The Life of Labour: Aadhaar Being Forced on Jharkhand Workers; Two Lakh Beedi Workers Lose Jobs

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

Beedis being rolled by workers. Credit: Plan International

Beedis being rolled by workers. Credit: Plan International

Jharkhand workers allege they aren’t given work under NREGA if they don’t have Aadhaar card

Jharkhand was the first state to experiment with linking payments for NREGA with Aadhaar, and the workers in the state say it has helped them greatly as they don’t have to walk to the bank anymore and also receive the correct amount owed to them. A 2015 Supreme Court ruling says that Aadhaar based payments would be voluntary, but activists have pointed out that it’s being imposed on the poor by the government in the state. “When we did not have an Aadhaar card, we never got work. When we used to go ask for work, we were never given any,” 35-year-old Shila Devi from Khunti told NDTV. The state government maintains that it hasn’t made Aadhaar mandatory for payment of wages but hopes more people would sign up for it.

Over two lakh beedi workers in Telangana lose jobs

Over two lakh beedi workers in Karimnagar district of Telangana have been rendered unemployed due to the closing down of units following protests against the health ministry’s directive to include 85% pictorial warning on beedi packets. The companies have expressed strong disagreement with the ministry’s decision saying the printing of enlarged pictorial warning would affect their business. “The beedi companies announced the closure of companies from April 1. Following closure of units, beedi workers particularly the womenfolk were left in the lurch without employment,” says a report in The Hindu.

Tirupur knitwear sector workers ink wage deal with owners

After three months of negotiations following the lapse of the previous wage agreement on January 30, eight trade unions and six prominent textile associations in Tirupur signed a new agreement on Tuesday which will be valid for the next four years. These are the highlights of the new agreement, as reported by The Financial Express and The Hindu:

  • Employees working under categories such as cutting, tailoring, ironing, packing, fabrication, checking, label putting, hand folding, damage spotting and fabrication will get a 33% hike in basic wages, spread over 4 years in the ratio of 18%, 5%, 5% and 5%, respectively.
  • Introduction of a group insurance scheme for workers and issuance of identity cards to all workers in Tirupur knitwear cluster.
  • Dearness allowance had been raised from Rs. 860 to Rs. 1,500 a month for Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 15,000 points. For every increase in the CPI points, 13 paise would be given.
  • Travel allowance had been increased to Rs. 20 a day from the earlier rate of Rs. 10.
  • Under the family benefit fund, an amount of Rs 17,000 will be given to the dependents of workers who die in harness.
  • For unmarried girls, when they reach the legal age, marriage allowances varying from a minimum of Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 will be provided based on their years of service.


Government to simplify labour inspection norms

The Minister for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya said on Tuesday that the Government was working on simplifying the labour inspection process and would come out with a unified portal for online registration of units and reporting of inspections. The ministry is also developing a single unified portal for online registration of units, reporting of inspections, submissions of annual returns and redressal of grievances, Dattatreya added.

The ministry is also developing a webinar centre “to increase reach to all stakeholders for imparting training and providing information pertaining to occupational safety and health, “a PTI report says.

India signs MoU with Saudi on labour cooperation

Among the five MoUs India recently signed with Saudi Arabia, one is on labour cooperation between the Ministry of Labour of Saudi Arabia and Indian Ministry of External Affairs for the recruitment of general category workers. According to a statement on Prime Miniser Modi’s official website, “[The two leaders] welcomed the signing of an agreement on labour cooperation for recruitment of General Category Workers. Both sides also welcomed the establishment of a Joint Working Group on Consular issues under the umbrella of the India-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission to discuss consular issues on a regular basis.”

The details of the MoU are yet to be released.

Do you know of any other development we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected]