KARNATAKA LABOUR MINISTER GHAR CHALO !
Demanding VDA and Prompt Disbursal of Wages every month.
BBMP (Bangalore Municipal Corporation) Sanitation Workers of AICCTU organised
KARNATAKA LABOUR MINISTER GHAR CHALO!
Today, 27 Aug. 2014, over 1000 guttige powrakarmikas (Contract Sanitation Workers) of AICCTU (ALL INDIA CENTRAL COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS) have assembled at the Gandhi Statue (near Mourya Hotel, Race Course road) to march to the residence of the Hon’ble Labour Minister’s demanding that the State Government take all steps necessary towards payment of minimum wages to guttige powrakarmikas.
The failure to pay contract powrakarmikas amounts to nothing less that sheer daylight robbery of their wages. Furthermore they are not paid their wages regularly, and in numerous wards the powrakarmikas have not been paid their wages for 1 – 4 months. It is also experienced that the wages, when paid, are subject to arbitrary deductions and made anytime during the month but never before the 2nd week. It is also seen that the ESI and PF benefits are denied to powrakarmikas in several wards.
It is undeniably unacceptable and unconscionable that in this silicon city, in this capital of Karnataka, the contract powrakarmikas who slog to keep the city clean and protect the health of all people, are treated literally as slave labour and are paid a pittance, which is much below the State Government notified minimum wages. This is not merely a violation of labour laws but amounts to a serious violation of the fundamental rights of the contract powrakarmikas. In Peoples Union for Democratic Rights vs. Union of India and Others [AIR 1982 SC 1473], commonly known as the Asiad Games case, the Supreme Court has held that “…We are therefore of the view that where a person provides labour or service to another for remuneration which is less than the minimum wage, the labour or service provided by him clearly falls within the scope and ambit of the words 'forced labour' under Article 23…”
There is complete breakdown of state machinery in this regard with all the concerned departments including the Labour Department and the BBMP regarding the failure to pay notified minimum wages to the contract powrakarmikas on monthly basis and within time but no action has been initiated on their part. This aspect has also been drawn to the attention of the Hon’ble Labour Minister during the last meeting of the Contract Labour Advisory Board, who had indicated that a meeting would be called in this regard.
About 18,709 contract powrakarmikas and about 3000 permanent workers are employed to keep Bangalore’s city clean and protect the health of its citizens. While the permanent powrakarmikas receive wages of more than Rs, 20,000/- and get all the benefits, the contract powrakarmikas receive wages of about Rs. 5,054/, and are deprived of any benefits including pension, housing, leave, etc. Even the basic safety equipment such as gloves, masks and gum boots are denied and they are forced to work 365 days a year. The Government has notified minimum wages (basic + VDA) for contract BBMP powrakarmikas. However, the contract BBMP powrakarmikas are paid Rs. 5,054/ and lesser too and are being denied payment of the Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA) from atleast April 2011 onwards. The VDA of Rs. 408/- per month from April 2011, additional Rs. 408/- per month from April 2012, additional D.A. of Rs. 542/- per month from April 2013 and further additional D.A. of Rs. 846/- per month from 1/4/2014.
In this regard it most appropriate to remember the words of Jawaharlal Nehru spoken on 2nd January, 1964, at a huge gathering of safaikaramcharis at Ramlila Ground, New Delhi: “I cannot refuse to meet you. So I have to come here. I don’t know what I shall tell you as I feel ashamed. Long back I had a chance to visit your bastis, where you live. On seeing the most pitiable conditions, I was very much shocked I realized that even after independence of the country, you have been suffering in the same way as you had been before independence. All this worries me and therefore I was hesitating to be in your midst.”
Yes, even 67 years after Independence, the contract powrakarmikas, all of whom are dalit, and predominantly women, are still waiting for their dreams to be fulfilled. One small step in that direction would be the ensuring of payment of, at the very least, the government notified minimum wages and benefits.
Hence, there is no option for us other than coming in large numbers to meet the Karnataka Labour Minister today and personally acquaint the minister with the injustices heaped on us. The demonstrators urge d the Labour Minister to take an immediate decision and issue express orders to the concerned departments directing payment of minimum wages to each and every contract powrakarmikas including as below:
1. Immediate payment of notified minimum wages (including VDA) from September 2014 onwards.
2. Immediate payment of VDA arrears from the year 2011 onwards.
3. Payment of wages before the 7th of each month.
4. ESI and PF benefits to be extended to each and every contract powrakarmika.
|Police Blocking Com. Balan from advancing further. Confrontation with the Police.|
|Com. Balan addressing workers.|
|Com. Clifton addressing workers.|
|Com. Shankar addressing workers.|