On the 108th birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, unorganised workers from various sectors and states organised a workers’ parliament Monday to deliberate on and adopt resolutions concerning their demands. These will be submitted to parliamentarians, political parties and state legislators for action.
Some of the important demands made by the workers included a minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month, no change in labour laws without consultation with workers, reservation for labourers in electoral bodies, below poverty line (BPL) and labour ID cards for all, abolition of contractualisation of labour, pension and provident fund (PF) for all, no dilution of MNREGA and wages for women and domestic workers at par with the men.
“We have been working on this first of its kind parliament for the last three months. A meeting was first held for consultation with various unions and individual workers, after which we drafted the charter of demands. Once finalised, they will be sent to the central and state governments,” said Rajesh Upadhyay, the convenor of National Alliance for Labour Rights (NALR) – under which the workers gathered.
Among those who participated were unions of rag pickers, MNREGA workers, hawkers, migrant labourers, homeless workers, rickshaw pullers, Dalit women workers, construction workers, garment workers and safai karamcharis.
Meanwhile, union leaders across sectors critcised the central trade unions for failing the workers’ cause. “Central trade unions have restricted themselves to the organised sector whereas the majority is in the unorganised sector. The trade leaders are only interested in netagiri…,” said Harish Patel, a union leader.