The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has rendered an important judgment on 22nd April 2022 (Madurai Corporation vs. The Inspector of Labour, Madurai and Ors), confirming the order of conferment of permanent status on 390 sanitary workers of the Madurai Municipal Corporation under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Industrial Establishments (Conferment of Permanent Status to Workmen) Act, 1981.
Reading the judgment of the Supreme Court
Hunger feels like pincers, like the bite of crabs;
it burns, burns, and has no fur.
Let us sit down soon to eat with all those who haven't eaten;
let us spread great tablecloths, put salt in lakes of the world,
set up planetary bakeries, tables with strawberries in snow,
and a plate like the moon itself from which we can all eat.
The recent struggle of the workers working at M/s ITI Ltd., Bengaluru once again brings to the forefront the question of contract workers and the conditions under which they are forced to work, especially in public sector undertakings and the Government. These workers like thousands of other workers in various public sector undertakings have been termed as contract workers and denied their most basic rights despite working for several decades.
The devastation of the working class has been fast-forwarded during the Covid pandemic. Record level unemployment and a failing economy prior to the pandemic were further accentuated by the authoritarian imposition of the ill-thought lockdown, with the ILO reporting that about 400 million workers in the informal economy were at risk of falling deeper into poverty. The intervening period between the first and second coronavirus waves saw a continuing sharp drop in the labour participation rate.
[This is an abridged version of a booklet on Sanitation Workers being brought out by AICCTU]