The Life of Labour: Coal India Hikes Wages; Tayo Rolls Workers Face Police Brutality

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Illustration by Aliza Bakht

Illustration by Aliza Bakht

Coal India hikes wages for workers; stockbrokers unhappy

Coal India Limited (CIL) announced a new wage agreement with its employees – agreeing to a 20% wage hike for a period of five years. CIL has approximately three lakh employees and unions that represent about 20-30% of them were party to the agreement. This agreement has been due since July 2016 and the workers initially demanded a 50% hike. The agreement also includes provisions related to pension and a medical trust.

Unsurprisingly, Livemint reports that investors and analysts dislike this move as it’s expected to cost the company around Rs 5,667 crore per year. The standard expectation is that any pro-labour action by a company will signal to shareholders that they aren’t the one and only concern of the business. Which is why it’s ‘interesting’ that “the CIL stock did not react too much to the wage hike announcement, which came after market hours on Tuesday”.

Pressure from teachers’ union hastens cabinet approval of pay revision for university teachers

In early October, the All-India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisations (AIFUCTO), an organisation with a presence in about 400 state universities across India, called for protests in November against the non-implementation of Seventh Pay Committee provisions for teachers.

A few days later, after a cabinet meeting, Union minister of human resource development Prakash Javadekar announced that the pay scales from the Seventh Pay Commission would apply to the “nearly eight lakh teachers and other academic equivalent staff in higher educational institutions under the purview of the University Grants Commission and in centrally funded technical institutions”.

Women workers of Unitex International face an uphill battle for compensation

One and a half years after their factory closure, workers from Unitex International are still talking to the labour department for fair compensation. Unitex International is a garment factory in Thiruvallur district that closed down in March 2016. By then, the management had effectively ensured that most workers resigned by delaying salary payments each month. This was to ensure that the total number of workers went below 100 so that there would be no necessity to seek permission from the government for closure. But 80 workers remained, most of them women, who are still knocking on doors trying to get their unpaid dues. Thozhilalar Koodam reports on how the owner of Unitex, P. K. Radhakrishnan, has allegedly swindled workers before.

Three workers from Assam rescued from poultry unit in Tamil Nadu

Chennai-based Udal Uzhaippu Thozhilalar Sangam, affiliated to the CITU, presented three people before the district collector of Namakkal who claimed they had been treated as bonded labour in a poultry unit. They say they were given food only twice a day and haven’t been paid wages in six months. The three Assamese workers claim that four more people remain trapped. The district collector asked the sub-collector to look into the matter.

Tata Steel subsidiary’s workers face police brutality for protesting plant closure

According to a report on the IndustriALL website, workers and their families faced a brutal police attack as they were protesting at the factory gates of Tayo Rolls, a Tata Steel subsidiary in Jamshedpur. About 40 workers were injured. The factory had filed a closure application but 284 workers petitioned the labour department and had the application rejected. Angered by this, the company stopped paying wages. This was almost one year ago. The workers are now fighting to receive their wages.

Major protest in Chennai against Motor Vehicles Amendment Act

Ahead of the Rajya Sabha session in which the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2017 will be discussed, 17 organisations in Tamil Nadu came together to register their demand that the amendment be repealed. The organisations which participated in the one-day strike were largely “lorry owners federations, driving instructors unions and federations, two wheeler, four wheeler, and six wheeler vehicles service mechanics associations, vehicle spare parts associations, and auto/taxi drivers associations”. Thozhilalar Koodam reports:

“There is palpable fear among various workers aligned with this sector about the proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988. Earlier versions of these amendments that were proposed in 2015, had also been vehemently contested by the workers. The concern is that instead of creating regulatory mechanisms and strengthening the existing ecosystem, the proposed measures might facilitate major corporate companies to take control of the licensing, registration, maintenance and spare parts market at the cost of small traders and self employed mechanics.”

Weekend reading

Overworked and underpaid anganwadi workers
The Wire

Shruti Jain writes about the women who care for Rajasthan’s children without a minimum wage or a toilet. She writes,

“In Rajasthan, anganwadi workers earn a monthly honorarium of Rs 4,730, helpers earn Rs 2,565 and ASHAs Rs 1,850.”

“We don’t even get minimum wages, because the AWCs open for four hours and the government counts our working hours as only six hours – two hours less than the eligibility criteria for minimum wages,” said Khushboo Sharma, an anganwadi worker in Fauji basti. “They won’t consider the time consumed in additional activities they use us for.”


“The government is unable to keep the existing youth employed, let alone create new jobs”

Collective action against sexual harassment at the workplace?

“Rather than trying to fight back against a harasser on her own, the safest bet for a women is to find a vehicle to fight the issue collectively. Not only can this strengthen the power on her side — if she can only do so much on her own, her power multiplies with each colleague who stands beside her — but it protects her.”

Has the Left given up on economics?
The Disorder of Things

“With the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression continuing to slowly unfold, one of the most surprising consequences has been a non-event: the dearth of high-quality economic theorizing in leftist groups.”

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