April 18th, 19th protests by the Garment workers in Bangalore (majority of whom are women) took the country by surprise. Not known for having strong unions it was remarkable to see close to lakhs of women workers, working in atrocious working conditions, come out on the road and protest government’s proposal that constrained PF withdrawal. The protests which lasted for 2 days were so militant that government was forced to withdraw the scheme . However as expected, aftermath of this protests has been arbitrary detention of workers. Although close to 90 percent of garment workers are women, out of 256 workers who were arrested, only 3 were women.
As part of a fact finding team which comprised of members of Inquilab Mazdoor Kendra (Faridabad), Student activist from Delhi University and women political activist from Uttarakhand, Thozhilalar Koodam spoke to various members affiliated to GATWU (Garment and Textile Workers Union) to get a better understanding of their efforts at unionising garment workers and their engagement with workers prior to the April protests. The team also spoke to the women workers who were arrested and are out on bail now.
Conversation with Jayram, member of Executive council of GATWU
Conversation with GATWU members Madina Taj, Rathnamma and Raju
Conversation with Vimla, Mamta and Gangama (Bailed workers)
Over 1000 engineering graduates from various colleges in several cities including Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Indore, Hyderabad have been left in a lurch after L&T Infotech had withdrawn their offer of employment with no prior warning after making them wait for over 18 months. In Tamil Nadu, these included graduates from over 150 engineering colleges including RMK, SRM etc who had been recruited in late 2014 and early 2015. Over 70 candidates came together in a hunger fast organized by Knowledge Professionals Forum on May 30th Actions including protests and pamphleteering have been carried out in other cities including Hyderabad and Bangalore.
Workers of Greaves Cotton India Ltd, Petrol Engine plant at Gummudipoondi went on a one day symbolic hunger fast on Friday 17th June. Over 100 workers, with their family members participated in the hunger strike, highlighting the apathetic condition due to an illegal plant closure by Greaves Cotton India ltd management. The workers, who are affiliated to DTUC, refuse to accept the compulsory retirement offer forced by the management and demanded that the plant be reopened and they be allowed to continue their work like before. (click here for the article on plant closure by Greaves Cotton India Ltd and click here for more on the workers struggle)
Com. Chidambaranathan addressing workers at Hunger fast (Photo courtesy – DTUC)
The announcement of the Union Budget 2016, like all budgets before, was an opportunity for the country and its government to have a conversation about the priorities of the state. An increase in social sector spending was widely trumpeted but nothing significant is obvious when studying the actual document.
Education in India is mostly governed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). The ministry is split into two departments – School Education and Higher Education. The following chart shows the budgetary allocation for the two departments over the last three years:
In the first part of this two part series we looked at how Renualt Nissan Workers were moved towards forming a Union after 5 years of service. The second part of this story explores the various attempts by the Management to break up the workers union and to replace it with a management supported union.
United Labour Federation – Renault Nissan Workers at hall meeting
Over the past week, media has reported an unprecedented pay rise for Renault Nissan Workers. One of the headlines in a leading daily reported that the pay rise was over 50%. This is a historic high in the auto sector, and the reports alluded to a cascading effect of this pay rise on other auto makers in the belt. The actual wage agreement did provide for Rs 18000/- per month increment over the next three years. Along with upward revisions to various allowances like travel, insurance, and night shift , the pay increase will work out to be Rs 19000/-. This is definitely a significant increase for the ‘technicians’. How could the company that had hitherto raised wages by about Rs 3500/- every year, agree to a double wage hike? How could the company afford such a steep increase in wages when demand in auto industry remains sluggish and volatile? Why did the company that refused to recognize any union since it’s inception, and then sign an unprecedented wage agreement with a union formed only few months back after a management facilitated elections?
Ratify ILO convention C 189
Yesterday was International Domestic Workers Day. Domestic workers have an international day to recognize their labour, but have no minimum wage, legal recognition of work status, no protection against sexual harassment at workplaces or even the basic social security provisions that other workers are able to access in India. Highlighting this apathetic condition and demanding the Indian government to ratify the ILO convention on domestic workers (C189), Penn Thozhillalar Sangam, an affiliate of NTUI, had a demonstration and public meeting in Chennai.
Highlighting the many outstanding issues that domestic workers face, the domestic workers from many regions of Chennai, including Vandalur and Chemenchery, demanded that the government declare a minimum hourly wage of Rs 60/-, bring them under the Employees State Insurance scheme, stop evictions and provide housing within the city and to provide a monthly pension of not less than Rs 3000/- while reducing the retirement age to 55 years.
Posted in Domestic Workers, Informal sector, Labour Laws, labour reforms, News, Women Workers, Workers Struggles, Working class and housing
Tagged Campaign for minimum wages, Chemmenchery, Convention C 189, ILO, Minimum Wage, NTUI, Perumbakkam, PTS