MORE than a year since the government failed to implement minimum wages in Delhi, members of eleven trade unions including major ones like CITU, AITUC and INTUC have decided to go on strike on July 20 pressing for their demands. A formal notice was given to the chief minister and the lieutenant governor of Delhi on June 27.
While the minimum wage of workers in Delhi is declared to be Rs 13,896 by the government on March 3, 2017, it has not been implemented yet. Most of the workers are denied minimum wage even as they are forced to work for more than 12 hours a day. Given this scenario, the trade unions, in unison, demanded a minimum wage of Rs 20,000, keeping in view the inflation in recent times.
A conference held by the unions on June 2 noted that high inflation rates and lack of any social security are making it difficult for labourers to make ends meet. The workers, therefore urged the government to issue ration cards to all workers, including those in factories, industries, companies and shops.
Women workers, especially are among the most exploited lot as they are paid much less than their counterparts. The unions demanded the government to end gender-based discrimination and provide equal pay. Special security and hostels for women workers and installation of sufficient toilets and crèches for children should be made. Complaint Committees against sexual harassment at work sites should also be constituted, they demanded.
The union members claimed that the employers are keeping permanent workers out of work and are deliberately taking in young laborers on contractual basis, who are being made to work for more than 12 hours a day with paltry wages and no social security. The government is not showing any interest in widening the social security net for laborers by implementing the ESI, provident fund etc.
The unions demanded the government to intervene and stop the contractualisation of regular jobs. They also sought the state to confirm contract employees in the same place and apply equal pay for equal work according to the Supreme Court ruling.
The workers highlighted the recent incidents of casualties due to fire in Bawana, Narela, Sultanpuri, Nawada etc, and demanded stern action against the responsible ministers and officials. It is established by now that most factories in the city are set up in unauthorised premises where production is being managed by locking the gates from outside and covering the boundary wall with no provision for safe exit. The union members also demanded that the Delhi government constitute trilateral committees fairly and not to neglect the trade unions.
Pressing upon the need for stern implementation of rules, the unions demanded security for the workers at workplaces. They also demanded the government to adhere strictly to labor laws and make it possible for the trade unions to get registered in 45 days as per rules.
Reminding the ruling party, AAP (Aam Aadmi Party), of its election promises to make the contract jobs permanent, the workers demanded the government to fulfill them at the earliest, given that three years have passed with no action. The workers unions also pointed that privatisation and outsourcing of work in the Delhi Jal Board and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) are examples of AAP’s determination to encourage privatisation and liberalisation in the capital territory.
The union leaders also asked the ruling party to come up with a formula to make permanent the contract workers without imposing restrictions on the license distribution of various contracts in government offices including the Labour department and improve its functioning. The unions demanded the central government to withdraw all anti-worker changes in labor laws and disallow 'Fixed Term Employment’.
The workers’ conference exhorted the government to prevent corruption and end the incessant delay in solving industrial disputes. They also demanded that the labor courts be transferred to district courts for speedy clearance of cases.
In view of registration of construction workers being stopped since two months and eviction of lakhs of people who were engaged in self employment through rehri-patri in the name of building a smart city and non-declaration of scheme workers as workers, the workers demanded to register the construction workers in 30 days. They also demanded to restore the paused registration process and make payment in favour of beneficiaries before deadline. Separate staff should be recruited in the board and the recording of the opposition opinion in the board meeting should be made by making it transparent, they demanded.
Vacancies that are being created due to retirement in various departments of the Delhi government are not being filled up, affecting work in every department. On the other hand, jobs of permanent nature are being given for long-term contract employees. The employees are raising a demand for implementation of 7th Pay Commission recommendations. In addition, they also sought Patients Care Alliance 'PCA' as per the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission on health workers.
Trade union leaders of INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC, LPF and MEC jointly gave the strike call putting forth a set of 25 demands regarding the workers of Delhi.
· All workers should be given at least Rs 3,000 monthly pension. Apply old pension scheme.
· Increase the bonus limit. Remove bar on gratuity and bonus.
· Various scheme workers including anganwadi, Asha workers, mid-day meal etc should be declared as government employees. Benefits of minimum wage, social security and all other labour facilities should be provided to them.
· Issue licenses and register vendors. Ban the forced eviction by the municipal corporation and police in the name of smart cities.
· Stop FDI in education, health, electricity, water, DTC, transport and other public sector firms.
· Provide full status of workers to cleaning and health workers employed in MCD. Apply the benefits to all. Ensure wages on time.
· Give the right to trade union to Delhi Metro management staff. Fix the Delhi Metro management for irregularities in increments. Apply a single policy to a corporation.
· Formation of board for welfare of drivers, conductors and helpers working in private transport area. Union representatives should be appointed as a member in the board.
· Prevent discrimination on communal and caste grounds.
· Make GST 0 percent on life saving medicines. Medical and sales representatives to be given the status of skilled employees. Eight-hour work norm should be followed.
· Apply 10 percent service charge in the hotel industry and give its benefits to the employees. Security Guards should be included in schedule employment and a separate board should be set up for this purpose.
· Make laws for domestic workers and give them employee status.
· All the workers in unorganised sectors should be registered in the Board constituted by the Delhi government and its benefits should be given to them all.