- Lekha

Almond Workers Protest in Karawal Nagar, Delhi

More than 5,000 workers in Karawal Nagar (New Delhi) had a 10-day protest seeking an increase in their wages since March 1st. Almonds imported from California reach Khari Baoli region of Delhi, where thousands of workers shell, hull, clean, sort and pack almonds for consumption in India. However, the workers face no dignity of labour in the area with their rights being violated and no due respect being given to them. Reports have stated that men, who are mostly employed to operate machines are paid Rs. 5 per kg to process almonds, whereas women who are involved in manual work are paid Rs. 2 per kg. While the minimum wages stipulated is Rs. 673 per day, the workers struggle to earn even Rs. 300 a day, with the average at Rs. 200 a day. The workers do not have weekly holidays, and work for about 14 to 15 hours every day, without any overtime being paid to them. The workers also face occupational health hazards due to the chemicals used, the dust created, etc., with no health benefits extended to them.

Gender Keypoints at UNCSW

In the recently concluded 68th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in March 2024, gender equality and workspace democracy were keypoints that were highlighted. Payment of statutory minimum wages to women workers, implementation of ‘equal pay for equal work’, universal social protection policies, etc., were discussed. Participating trade unions spoke about the importance of workplace democracy which would help achieve gender equality through right to collectivization and collective bargaining. They stated that this would help eradicate women’s economic disadvantages and empower them to voice out their concerns better. It was also highlighted that the problem of unpaid care work must be addressed. The International Trade Union Confederation, a participant at UNCSW, stated “The ITUC, as the global voice for workers, is committed to advocating for these issues, aiming for a more inclusive, fair, democratic and equal workplace for women worldwide.”

Factory Workers in Bangladesh Not Paid Wages

Over 90% of the workers in Narayanganj of Bangladesh (which houses several factories and several thousand workers) have not been paid wages for several months, despite the closing of Ramzan month. Reports have stated that there is a risk of labour unrest due to the demand of payment of salaries and bonuses during Eid. The delayed payments have been spotted in 416 industrial establishments, including 71 from Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and 171 member establishments.

French Unions Issue Strike Notice

Amid Olympics and Paralympics being scheduled to take place in France this year, leaders of the most powerful workers unions have filed strike notices, to allow them to call for industrial action among public sector workers, including in essential services sector, during the Olympic games. They are seeking permanent recruitment, compensation for professional constraints generated by the games, holiday rights, right to choose work from home and to switch off from work. The unions in France have been issuing strike notices since January this year, due to the overwork situation that has been generated and the growing inflation rates, which has caused unrest among the workers, who were already protesting against the violation of their labour rights.

Power Plant Accident in Italy

An explosion at a hydro-power plant in northern Italy has left three workers dead and several injured. The explosion at the Enel Green Power Plant occurred as the company was testing the efficiency improvements that were made to the facility recently, which generates power from the water of a nearby dam basin. The explosion occurred underwater, and divers have been deputed to rescue workers, who are working in conditions of “zero visibility” in the rubble and debris of the explosion. They are manually removing debris and rubble, which is delaying the rescue operations. This incident has resulted in the unions calling for a general strike demanding safe working conditions and compensation in cases of death at workplaces.