The Life of Labour: Mine Collapse, Bahrain Protest, Jallikattu’s Shadow

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Credit: nevilzaveri/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Credit: nevilzaveri/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

1. In Surat, majority of workers don’t receive provident fund benefits

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) estimates that a mere 1 lakh of the 15 lakh workers employed in the diamond and textile industries in Gujarat are covered under the EPF schemes due to non-disclosure by employers. To rectify the situation, the EPFO is undertaking a large-scale campaign to convince employers to take advantage of the voluntary disclosure scheme that runs till March 31. But this might not be successful as employers in Surat seem to not even pay their workers’ salaries. The Times of India reported that 500 workers pelted stones at the Surat office of a leading Mumbai-based diamond company. They were angry over the non-receipt of three months’ wages. Recently the Global Risks 2017 report by the World Bank highlighted the fact that 93% of Indians do not receive any social security benefits, citing an India Spend report on the looming demographic disaster.

2. High Court reverses controversial land-acquisition scheme by Telangana government

Rahul Maganti writes in the Caravan about the 200-day-long struggle by farmers in Vemulaghat: “The protests in these villages began in August 2015, when the district’s revenue officials began visiting the area to survey the land. Villagers from Vemulaghat told me that it was when they questioned the land officials that they found out that the Telangana government intended to acquire their land… Many of these protests were attacked and lathi charged by the police – on July 24, for instance, when a group of villagers, belonging to villages such as Yeravalli and Pallepahad, started to walk towards the Hyderabad-Karimnagar highway and block it as a form of protest, the police fired into the air to disperse the protestors, and lathi charged them. The attack injured at least 20 people, some of whom were young children.”

3. Four workers killed, many injured as mine collapses in West Bengal

The Hindu reported this week that an illegally operated coal mine in Bankaru district of West Bengal collapsed on January 12 killing four miners and possibly trapping over 50 more. As the mine was operated illegally by some kind of local mafia, rescue attempts had not commenced at the time of reporting. The police are allegedly refusing to register any complaint and are denying the existence of such mines.

4. UN Report states that unemployment will rise in 2017

Livemint reports that “The United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) released its 2017 World Employment and Social Outlook report on Thursday, which finds economic growth trends lagging behind employment needs and predicts both rising unemployment and worsening social inequality throughout 2017. Job creation in India is not expected to pick up pace in 2017 and 2018 as unemployment rises slightly, representing a near stagnation in percentage terms.”

5. Indian worker killed during Bahrain protest

A worker was killed in Bahrain following a large protest involving more than 200 people turned violent. The protesters were demanding the payment of their salaries. While the Bahrain government has claimed the death was due to natural causes, action by police to curb the protest is suspected to be the likely cause of death. The Indian external affairs ministry is in consultation with the Bahrain government to de-escalate the situation.

6. 11 of 33 benches of tribunal for government staff grievances headless

The Times of India reported that “At least 11 of the 33 benches of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which adjudicates disputes and complaints of government staff, are headless on account of non-availability of judicial members. Five of these benches have no members at all, making them non-functional.”

7. Health and Anganwadi workers go on national strike on January 21

Health workers including Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and Anganwadi workers went on a nationwide strike on January 21, according to the Times of India. There were reports on the strikes in Gurgaon and Karnataka. Their demands included that “the budget allocation for Anganwadi workers to be increased to Rs 36,000 crores, no privatisation of the sector, permanent stature to the workers as Grade 3 and Grade 4 workers of government with a minimum salary of Rs 18,000 per month, paid maternity leave of at least 180 days and all benefits such as gratuity and pension.”

8. Jallikattu protests overshadow labour struggles all over Chennai

The workers of the Chennai factory of Integra Automations, an automotive ancillary of Hyundai, have been camping at the gates since Pongal. The company, allegedly in violation of a number of orders from the LabourDepartment, was trying to close the factory and remove the machinery to its Coimbatore facility. To prevent this, workers are not moving from the gates. Tents have been pitched and food is cooked at the site itself. But this struggle for the right to work has been lost in the din surrounding the massive outpouring of support for jallikattu at Marina beach

9. Update: Delhi sanitation workers’ strike ends

Hindustan Times reported that 83% of the sanitation workers went back to work by January 14. While this will be a relief for citizens who have been hard-pressed by the strike, the workers have stated that they will continue to fight for the implementation of the recommendations of the fourth Delhi Finance Commission report and the payment of pending arrears.

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