Labour

The Life of Labour: Software Firms Might Cut Jobs Drastically, Noida’s Domestic Workers’ Take on The ‘Madams’

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Illustration by Aliza Bakht

Illustration by Aliza Bakht

Noida’s domestic workers’ take on the ‘madams’ 

Maya John, Sunita Toppo and Manju Nochhary of the Gharelu Kamgar Union have an investigative report published in Kafila and EPW on the incidents surrounding the alleged abduction of Zohra Bibi. “Overall, the filing of three separate FIRs against the workers has worked towards building a convenient sequence of events as each FIR consists of additional details that cover up for weaknesses in the FIR filed prior to it. The filing of three separate FIRs in this incident is an outright violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure… Undoubtedly, the police’s express purpose is to harass the migrant workers and to trap them in jail by complicating the bail procedure.” Read more here.

Labour is cheap even in death

A year after nine workers died in an construction accident in Pune, their 46 dependents are yet to receive the compensation that was promised to them by the labour court in December 2016. The total compensation, as per the Employee Compensation Act, amounts to an abysmal Rs 77 lakhs. Even after six months, only a third of this amount has been disbursed. “It is a societal problem as the common man’s life is valued cheaply. For instance, victims of airplane accident get much more than those who die on roads or industrial accidents,” said Nitin Pawar, general secretary, Bandkam Mazdoor Sabha. The lawyers feel this is one of the better cases as in most other cases, the developer never pays up.

Kerala electricity board to enforce safety norms for contract workers

The recent accident leading to the electrocution of a migrant contract worker has forced Kerala State Electricity Board to enforce stricter safety norms. The data on accidents reveals that 531 fatal accidents have been reported in 2015 and 2016. A preliminary investigation by the KSEB has found that the contractors are deploying labourers who are not even aware of the risks involved while working on power lines. The Hindu reports that a safety meeting is being organized to review and implement safety guidelines.

IT sector bleeding jobs, software firms might cut jobs ever more drastically

Five major IT companies in India have reported 1800 less jobs for the quarter ending June. Three of the five major companies, including TCS, have cut down on their workforce and most of the increase in jobs at Wipro has come from acquisition of companies rather than fresh recruitment. Overall, the sector is struggling to create more jobs and might find it difficult to achieve NASSCOM’s prediction of 1.5 lakh more jobs this year. LiveMint reports that given the increase in automation, it is even likely that the year might end with a net loss of employment in the sector that accounts for a million jobs.

Labour minister sidesteps questions about job loss and jobless growth

In response to several questions on the issue in the parliament, the labour and employment minister Bandaru Dattatreya has in the ongoing monsoon session avoided key questions while hiding behind the comfort of spelling out the features of key central schemes for employment generation. While the labour minister is left to respond to these queries, BJP President Amit Shah has been touting the loans disbursed through Mudra Bank as a way of creating entrepreneurs who generate jobs rather than seek jobs. The Wire reports that such methods, instead of addressing the issue of mounting job losses, tend to obfuscate the facts on the ground.

160 sanitation workers shed clothes to protest against job loss due to privatization

The Hindu reports that in Faridabad, “nearly 160 semi-naked sanitation workers, who were rendered “jobless” after the HUDA handed over maintenance of certain sectors to the municipal corporation, carried out a protest march here demanding restoration of their jobs.” Even though orders have been passed to absorb them into the municipal corporation, it has not been implemented leaving them without wages for many months. The workers said if their jobs are not restored, they will launch a protest on August 9 carrying “begging bowls” in their hands.

Municipal finances straining bus transport services, workers bearing the brunt

The Times of India reports that, “A two-hour boycott of work was observed by several trade unions representing workers of the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation. Workers were protesting that their salaries were being sent late, and that they had not been paid for the months of June and July yet. Retired employees were being denied retirement benefits and pension, and about 4,000 pensioners were stranded in difficult circumstances. The boycott was observed across the state, throwing the bus network out of whack.”

In Mumbai, similar financial strain has led workers of the transport wing of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) to go on a hunger fast. The BEST union members have decided not to strike and disrupt services but rather put pressure on the municipality through an indefinite fast. Shashank Rao, leader of BEST workers union and member of BEST action committee, remarked that BMC wanted “us to cut down on routes and still want BEST to hire buses on contract. Which is nothing but pushing BEST under more financial burden and privatizing it”. “Therefore from August 1 onwards, we will go on a hunger strike,” he said.

JK Tyres workers on strike demanding trade union recognition

Thozhilalar Koodam reports that, “Permanent workers belonging to CITU in the JK Tyres factory near Manimangalam, Kanchipuram district, have struck work since July 24, demanding recognition of their union to represent them on the shop floor. CITU has claimed that over 600 workers from permanent and trainee categories are members of their union and has alleged that the management has propped an internal union to suppress the legitimate voices of the workers. In a dispute raised under Industrial Disputes Act, CITU has challenged the management to either conduct secret ballot or show documentary evidence of the internal union’s strength.”

International:

Workers pitch tent, camp outside Haifa Chemicals: In Israel, environmental and labour issues collide as a Haifa chemical plant has to shut down and fire 800 workers after receiving orders from the court. Read more here.

Thousands of teachers in Peru march to Lima as strike continues: TeleSur reports that, “An estimated 10,000 teachers reached the capital city of Lima as the indefinite education strike in Peru is close to reaching its 50th day, demanding the government of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski allocate more funds for this sector.” Read more here.

Cafeteria workers in Silicon Valley vote to unionise

500 workers working in the cafeteria of the Facebook office voted to form a union. This comes on the heels of cafeteria workers employed by Google and Intel organising into unions. The Nation reports that cafeteria workers embody the extreme inequalities of big tech’s economic dominion. Dining-hall servers generally earn less than $700 a week, and sink about two-thirds of each paycheck into monthly rent (median rent in Silicon Valley costs nearly $1,800). Read more here.