Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, President, Centre of India Trade Unions(CITU) J&K State Committee addressed the press conference today at Srinagar, appealing the trade unions, employees plate forms to join the countrywide general strike on 2nd September, 2015
He was accompanied by Ab. Gani Bhat, Ab. Rashid Najar CITU leaders, Jammela Sabri General Secretary Angan wari Workers/Helpers Union, Misra, President ASHA Workers Union, Nisar Ahmad, President Kashmir Handicraft Workers Union, Javid Pandit, President Centaur Hotel Union, Tariq Rasool, Vice-President Kashmir Casual Workers Union
The dismal scenario of social security benefits to the workers, rampant violation of labour laws, non-implementation of minimum wages act, extensive contractualization of workforce and attacks on trade union rights have proved detrimental to the interests of the working class.
Working class is enduring minimum wages and overtime violations, hazardous working conditions, discrimination, and retaliation for speaking up or trying to organize. They have little recourse because of their need for work, especially during the pressing times of inflation and price rise.
The frequent amendments to labour laws have so far armed the employers further and this continuing process of fiddling with the rights of workers have deprived the working class who need coordinated efforts and a united resistance to safeguard their interests.
The policies of globalization pursued by the Modi Government are drastically affecting the workforce especially working in the unorganized sector across the country virtually reducing them to the status of bonded labour.
The number of complaints for not receiving even minimum wages galore owing to administrative inertia which is resistant to probe the deep rooted nexus between management and the officers at the helm.
While receiving minimum wages is still a distant dream in the state, the labourers are presently worried about termination of their jobs without prior notice.
Social Security schemes
Several schemes (yojanas) were announced by the government of India ostensibly for the unorganised sector workers which hardly benefit them. Social security benefits including gratuity, pension, provident fund, medical facilities etc should have been provided to all workers who act as the backbone of all centrally supported schemes.
It is more than six years since the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act has been enacted in 2008. But despite unanimous recommendation by Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Board that workers in the country should be universally covered by certain basic welfare measures related to old age, health, maternity, disability etc not a single new social security scheme has been formulated under this Act.
Most of the existing social welfare schemes to the unorganised workers are limited to only those below the poverty line, which is so ridiculously low that more than 90% of the unorganised workers are left out of the purview of these schemes.
Instead the Modi government has adopted a deceptive ploy of announcement of social security scheme which is just to hoodwink the unorganised sector of working class in the country. These social security schemes are all self contributory without any financial support from the central government.
As per Social Security Act every unorganised worker would be provided by the district administration with a smart card carrying a unique identity number. It is more than six years since the Act has come into force. Not a single smart card has been issued under this Act – neither during the erstwhile UPA regime, nor during the past one year of the ‘Modi Sarkar’.
The anganwadi workers and helpers, ASHA, the mid day meal workers, the teaching and non teaching staff or other working in centrally supported schemes like National Child Labour Project, National Rural Livelihood Mission, or Agriculture Technology Management Agency have all been totally neglected by the BJP led union government.
`The 45th Indian Labour Conference has already recommended that all these ‘scheme workers’ who are given various names like ‘social workers’, ‘volunteers’, ‘activists’, ‘friends’, ‘guests’ etc should be treated as ‘workers’, that they should be paid minimum wages and provided with social security benefits. But no initiative has been taken in this regard so far. The present union government did not even increase their meagre remuneration. Instead, with the drastic reduction in the allocation to all these schemes, their future has become totally uncertain.
Though the government of India claims of increasing the financial devolution to the state governments many state governments have disputed this claim and argued that in fact their shares as percentage of GDP has come down, while they are being burdened with increased share of the central government schemes.
In this situation, trade unions apprehend how many state governments would be continuing these schemes in the present form? What will be the future of the lakhs of workers engaged under different schemes like Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), National Health Mission (NHM), Sarva Shiksha Abhyan (SSA) and Mid Day Meal (MDM), ASHAs who have served the poor women and children all their lives with a nominal ‘honorarium’? What answer does this BJP government have to these questions? Till now it is totally silent on these issues.
It is ironical that on the one hand central government claims lack of funds for basic welfare measures of the unorganized workers but it has no dearth of money when it comes to heaping bonanzas on the big corporations! Corporates are being benefitted by tax exemptionsof Rs 4 to 5 Lakh crores as “revenue foregone” year after year in addition to another Rs 4 to 5 Lakh crores uncollected tax claims every year. For whom the government in Delhi works, requires no rocket science to understand.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the unemployment is still a major problem and the condition of already existing causal labourers, daily rated workers, daily wagers, CPWs, NYC is no different than the qualified unemployed youth in the state. Regularization of the services of these workers in different departments is distant dreams for thousands of families who are directly depend on these workers. Instead of addressing the unemployment problem in the state, efforts are on to privatize Public Sector Undertaking like Centaur Hotel thereby rendering hundreds of hapless employees jobless.
Unfortunately, instead of addressing their grievances the government has been adopting a policy of force and browbeating against them. Use of batons, water cannons and tear smoke shells against these hapless causal labourers has become a norm which needs to be changed immediately.
The undue obstructions created by Construction Welfare Board in registering the genuine labourers has multiplied the sufferings of workers. The registration process has been made draconian which pushes a worker from pillar to post to get himself registered.
Similarly, the miserable condition Handicrafts sector and the plight of thousands of artisans has sofar gone unnoticed by the successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir. Not only Handicrafts is hit but thousands of artisans whose livelihood depends on this sector are at the verge of starvation and the government seems least bothered about their plight.
All the workforce of the State should unite on a single plate-form and intensify the struggle against the anti-workers policies of the Government. All sections of working class and employees are appealed to observe a complete strike called by trade unions on September 2, 2015 in protest against the anti-people policies of the Central government.