Various unions organizing informal workers, including artisans, agricultural labourers, fish workers and domestic workers came together under Unorganized Workers Federation to release a charter of demands for the upcoming Tamilnadu Assembly elections. It was released on 6th April at Chennai Press Club.
Speaking at the press conference on the workers manifesto, R Geetha, leader of UWF, detailed the problems faced by informal workers under the government and demanded that the workers should only vote for those who address their issues. She listed the important demands that the organization raised that included rights to land, right to dignified work, total prohibition of liquor and improved and expanded social security. Mr. Ramamurthy, leader of the agricultural workers union, added that they were even planning to face the elections by nominating candidates in over 20 seats. “we shall provide an alternative to the workers, a choice for them to vote for those who will fulfill their demands” he said.
The Manifesto was released by T.M Chandran, president of Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangham and was received by the leaders of various organizations who had helped draft the manifesto. The leaders promised to take up election campaigns with the slogans ‘We shall not sell our vote’; ‘We shall struggle for our livelihood rights’ and ‘Workers vote for Workers Only’
Their press release highlighted other critical issues such as
- The lack of flood damage compensation for farmers in Tamilnadu
- The lack of funds for effective implementation of Unorganized Workers Welfare Board
- Non coverage under ESI for informal workers
- No minimum wage for Domestic Workers
- Low compensation for accidents, accidental death, natural death, pension etc in Tamilnadu
- 17 welfare boards has only one office causing major delays in registration
- No redistribution of ‘panchami’, surplus lands to land less families
- Eviction and forced resettlement
- Forced acquisition of fertile lands of small farmers
- Lack of decent housing for informal workers
- Domestic Violence and loss of productivity due to Alcoholism