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Brick kiln workers’ protest continues even as Mehsana counterparts get hike

After the brick kiln workers in Sanand tasted some success over the issue of wage hike,workers in Adalaj (place with the largest number of kilns in the state) and Mehsana had joined the movement,which the Int Bhatta Mazdoor Union later launched as a statewide agitation.

Written by Amrita Didyala | Ahmedabad |
January 24, 2009 12:17:01 am

After the brick kiln workers in Sanand tasted some success over the issue of wage hike,workers in Adalaj (place with the largest number of kilns in the state) and Mehsana had joined the movement,which the Int Bhatta Mazdoor Union later launched as a statewide agitation.

On Thursday,the agitating workers from Mehsana decided to end their 10-day strike after their wages were hiked from the present

Rs 220 per 1,000 bricks to

Rs 300. It was decided to match the wages decided upon by the Sanand factory owners in a meeting between factory owners and the workers’ union.

The labour union argues that three labourers together take 16-18 hours to make 1,000 bricks for which they are paid Rs 122 for 8 hours. For additional hours the wage should double. But the worker trio,after getting Rs 230 for 16 hours,receives approximately Rs 50 individually. Those who opt for overtime have to fund the cost of lighting kerosene lamps as well.

Traditionally,Mehsana has a system of workers bringing in all equipment required. However,according to the Labour department,the minimum wages are Rs 112 for a set of 1,000 to 1,100 bricks depending on the pattern followed in the place.

R M Patel,Principal Secretary,Labour department,said: “We have already issued a notification for wage revision from the present

Rs 112.30 to Rs 187.80. It is under consideration and will be finalised soon. However,facilities like kerosene,instruments and housing will have to be negotiated by the workers themselves.”

Workers of about 35 brick kilns in Mehsana,100 in Adalaj,28 in Sanand,100 in the Dholka-Bavda cluster,20 in Sidpur and 50 in Mehmedabad had been mobilised to join the movement. The state has about 15,000 big units and about 20,000 small units (Int Wada) in total,employing about two lakh workers.

According to the union,workers in the state,at present,get wages between

Rs 220 and Rs 240 for

every thousand bricks they make. An additional 100 bricks are made free for every thousand.

Reena Parmar,a union worker,said: “Since January is the peak season for brick making,we have to mobilise workers right now so that they can reap some benefit of the wage hike. The season will end by Holi. The present wage rates have not been

revised in the last five years. Now that workers in two places have secured a

hike after agitating for

days,workers in other areas are willing to join the

movement.”

The union also held a meeting in Chiyada village in Dholera taluka on Friday with similar demands.

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