LABOUR SNIPPETS - May 2023
Chennai Fisherfolk protest against illegal eviction
The Madras High Court directed for eviction of fish stalls in Marina Loop Road, Chennai on the ground of traffic. Subsequently, police and corporation personnel unilaterally and illegally evicted the fisherfolk without prior notice, gravely impacting their right to life and livelihood under Article 21 of the Constitution. The workers have been on protest against this illegal eviction.
Blinkit workers in Delhi strike against reduction in delivery payment from Rs.50 to Rs. 15
Despite massive revenue of Rs. 2616 crore in the financial year 2022, last minute delivery app reduced the per delivery fee of workers from Rs. 50 to Rs. 15, resulting in mass strikes by workers. These workers have to face poor conditions, risk of fatal accidents and lack of social security, and are deprived of their rights to dignity and wages. Due to the protest of the workers against the reduction in per delivery fee and also seeking social security, Blinkit stores have remained shut.
AICCTU approaches Ministry of Labour and employment against the shifting of Central Labour Department away from city centre!
AICCTU issued a representation to the Secretary, MoLE, after the office of the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) was shifted away from Parliament street, New Delhi to Dwarka, causing immense hardship to workers due to the difficult and time-consuming commute. We have sought for the office to be shifted back. Even in Karnataka, a few years ago, the Central Labour Department and CGIT was shifted to the outskirts of the city, causing immense difficulty in accessibility to workers.
Delays in reference of dispute to adjudication
Despite the mandate under the Industrial Disputes Act,1947 upon the government to refer dispute for adjudication upon failure of conciliation if the Government is of opinion that any industrial dispute exists or is apprehended, there have been a number of delays in this process. The Supreme Court has held that the process of reference is only administrative. However, delays in reference are placing a very real bar in the access of justice to workers, and are empowering managements to commit further unfair labour practices. In this regard, AICCTU has written to the Secretary, MoLE
Supreme Court holds that Government Employees cannot claim overtime pay as per Factories Act, 1948
The Supreme Court recently held that government employees cannot claim double wages for overtime work as per Factories Act, 1948 by holding that they enjoy other benefits over and above labourers under the Factories Act. The Court termed that the claim “an attempt to get the best of both the worlds" and held that the service rules did not give for any scope for claiming double overtime allowance.
ASHA and MNREGA Workers go unpaid in UP
Asha workers [Accredited Social Health Activists] have not been paid their wages for over 4 months in Uttar Pradesh. Their wages are a measly sum of Rs. 2000 a month, due to this amount being termed as ‘honorarium’. Despite their substantial contribution to rural healthcare, the workers are denied the label of workers, the right to minimum wages, and now, even earned wages. So too, as much as Rs. 313 Crore MNREGA wages are pending in Uttar Pradesh, and workers have not been paid since January in various regions.
Regressive anti-workers Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Act, 2023 passed by Karnataka Government
The Amendments brought in by the BJP Government in Karnataka increase the daily working hours from the present 9 hours (including an hour of rest) to a maximum of 12 hours, subject to a total of 48 hours in a week. By allowing industries to increase daily working hours from 9 hours to 12 hours a day, the Karnataka Government has reduced workers to machines and even denied them wages at the overtime rate, which they would have been otherwise been entitled to. Further, the Amendment increases the permissible overtime work from 75 hours per quarter (25 hours overtime per month) to 144 hours per quarter (48 hours overtime per month). Although the amendment says that such change can only be with the consent of the workers, it is an established fact that there is no space for consent in a relation of employer and workmen, which is a highly unequal relationship. Workers are most often forced to accept the terms of the management or threatened with dire consequences, which could even include termination.
The Amendment also allows women to work night shifts in factories, which was previously prohibited. The deletion of prohibition against employment in night shifts is nothing more than an extension of exploitative practices against women workers. In the name of freedom, women are compelled to work in the night. Consent taken from women workers to be employed at night would be nothing more than an unfree choice, thus a travesty of justice.
Strike by Largest Public Sector Union in Canada
Over one and a half lakh government workers across sectors in Canada went on strike in respect of the failure to adequately increase wages of workers, in view of the substantial rise in cost of living in the country. The workers are represented by their union - Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). Workers say that due to inflation, the actual basket of goods that they can afford has dropped substantially, and if the wages are not increased, in reality, workers are actual wages have been cut. Workers state that the demands for wage hikes would not even amount to any increase in fact, but would only allow for workers to keep pace and afford the same basket of goods. One of the reason for the ability of the union to mobilise such large number of workers for strike is due to low unemployment rates leading to scarcity of substitute workers.
Nationwide protests in France protesting amendment to pension rights
On May Day, 2023, workers burned effigies of President Macron in huge protests in France. They faced teargas from police while protesting against the pension changes, that were announced in 2022 by Macron. The result of the changes would be an increase in retirement age from 62 to 64 years. Not only this but by 2027, workers would be required to make contributions for 43 years instead of 42 years to be entitled to full pension from government. As a result of this, some workers would be required to work till 67 years.
While the proposals were unpopular in themselves, the government faced further massive popular outrage when it deployed Article 49.3 of the French Constitution to pass the reform in the lower house of parliament without vote in an undemocratic manner. Reports state that over two thirds of the country appears to oppose the so-called reforms.