Labour

The Life Of Labour: Delhi Hikes Minimum Wage, Tirupur Workers Strike, NREGA Dues Pile Up

A round-up of news and issues from the world of work

Tirupur workers. Credit: textilelearner.blogspot.in

Tirupur workers. Credit: textilelearner.blogspot.in

Delhi government hikes minimum wages of workers

The Delhi government has raised the dearness allowance (DA), adjusting it with the increase in prices of goods and services, says a PTI report. The new minimum wages will be as follows:

  • Unskilled workers (security guards, peons etc.):  Rs.9,568, which translates to Rs. 368 per day. It was Rs. 9,178 per month previously
  • Semi-Skilled workers (welders etc.): Rs. 10582, which translates to Rs 407 per day. Up from the previous Rs. 10,140 per month.
  • Skilled workers (masons, drivers etc.): Rs. 11,622 per month as opposed to Rs. 11,154 earlier. Rs. 447 will be the per day rate.

“These rates will be applicable in respect of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled categories in all scheduled employments except employment in the establishments where the workers are given facilities of meals or lodging or both by the employees,” the government order said.

Knitwear workers in Tirupur strike against amendment in EPF scheme

Workers from the knitwear cluster in Tamil Nadu’s Tirupur region are on strike demanding the rollback of a recent amendment in the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) scheme, 1952, that fixed the age limit of 58 years for withdrawing employer’s contribution from the provident fund account, says a report from Business Standard. Another report from The Hindu adds that knitwear exporters have petitioned the Union labour ministry asking for withdrawal of the new notification.

The Business Standard report says that its mostly north Indian workers who are on strike as they are the worst affected. These workers typically leave their jobs after working for a few years and thus can’t wait till they turn 58 to withdraw the money owed to them. “The cluster employs around 400,000 workers directly, and out of which 70 per cent are women. There are around 70,000 workers from other states including Odisha, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh,” the report adds.

The resentment from workers has sounded alarm bells as the strike has the potential to cripple the over Rs 20000-crore sector. The urgency of the situation can be gauged from this report on the central government’s Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) website that clearly states the value of the Tirupur cluster in India’s total export: “Tirupur has significant presence at the lower end of the international hosiery and knitwear market. The cluster accounts for 90% of the cotton knitwear exports.”

Mohali sanitation workers stop door-to-door garbage collection

Sanitation workers in Punjab’s Mohali, who have been on an indefinite strike since Friday, stopped door-to-door garbage collection this Monday. The workers had given many prior warnings, but neither were their demands addressed nor were any alternative arrangements made for garbage disposal by the municipal corporation. “It was a bad day for the city residents who had to bear with the stink rising from the heaps of garbage,” says a report in the Indian Express.

The workers have been demanding regularisation of contractual work, and their strike enters its seventh day today. Of the total 400 sanitation workers in the city, a majority of them are contractual employees even after having worked with the municipal corporation for years. “Leaders of various associations, who have united under Sanjhi Sangarsh Committee, said the strike would continue till their demands were accepted,” a report in The Tribune says.

Case to be booked against Bangalore contractor for death of 2 labourers

Following  the death  of two labourers and two passers-by in Doddaballapur town due to asphyxiation in a clogged 15 ft deep manhole, a preliminary enquiry by the Karnataka State Commission for Safai Karamcharis says, “The two labourers were forced to climb down the manhole to clear the blockage, even though the equipment to do the same work was available with the Doddaballapur City Municipal Council for hire.” A Supreme Court order has restricted using humans to get into manholes, and if inevitable, to do so only with proper safety equipment. The labourers were not provided with any safety equipment. The two passerby, who were workers in a garment factory, fell into the manhole while trying to help the labourers and succumbed to the effect of poisonous gases. The Hyderabad based contractor has been absconding since.

A recent report says “the Karnataka State Commission for Safai Karamcharis has directed the Doddaballapura DC to file complaints under The Prohibition of Employment As Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act against the contractor and the Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board.” Compensation of Rs 10 lakh each will be provided to the victims’ families.

MNREGA to be hit by unpaid bills

“The rural job guarantee scheme MGNREGA reported over Rs 8,000 crore in unpaid wages for the 2015-16 fiscal that ended on Thursday, the highest in recent years,” says a report in the Hindustan Times. Apart from the Rs 8,261 crore in unpaid wages, government records show another Rs 3,686 Crore not paid for material used in 2015-16. That makes a total of around Rs 12,000 crore in liabilities.

Nikhil Dey of the Majdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan argues that the states will spend a large sum of the current budget’s allocation (Rs 38,500 crore) in paying dues for last year and after doing so they will be left with only Rs 26,500 crore for the entire year, which is not even close to enough as rural welfare campaigners had demanded a minimum of Rs 50,000 crore for the current financial year to meet the demand for work.

In the previous fiscal, with an allocation of Rs 34,699 crore, as many as 12 states exhausted their funds by December, three months before the financial year closed, the HT reports.

“Archaic” labour Laws to be reformed

At the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) annual session on ‘Multidimensional Reforms Being Taken for Ease of Doing Business’ on Monday, Union labour secretary Shankar Aggarwal said “the government is in the process of reforming the labour laws that are “archaic” in nature and wants to ensure that the compliance of these laws becomes easier in the country,” reports PTI.  “We are in the process of replacing these 44 labour laws into four labour codes, one code is on wages, one code is on industrial organisations, third code on industry safety and security, and fourth on social security,” Aggarwal added.

Do you know of any other development we should highlight in this column? Write to me at Akhil@thewire.in