Mathadi workers have decided to go on a fast unto death from June 18 at Azad Maidan here. According to the Maharashtra State Mathadi, Transport and General Workers’ Union, the state government is trying to merge 36 Mathadi district boards into one. It wants the government to stop this move.
Their other demands include the scrapping of government decisions they say are against Mathadi workers, appointing Mathadi leaders to the state advisory board and giving preference in jobs to children of Mathadi workers. Mathadi workers are those who carry heavy loads and are employed across industries. There are approximately 4-5 lakh Mathadi workers in the state.
“We have been protesting for the last several months demanding to scrap of the move to merge the 36 district boards. During the Budget Session, the government gave an assurance in writing but has again started talking about it,” said Narendra Patil, NCP legislator and general secretary of the Mathadi workers’ union.
Patil said the government was trying to weaken the Maharashtra Mathadi, Hamal and Other Manual Workers (Regulation of Employment and Welfare) Act 1969 rather than strengthening it. “The Act will complete 50 years next year. So, we want certain amendments to be made in the Act as many changes have taken place in the last five decades. But, rather than taking a decision to protect workers’ rights, the government is trying to weaken the law,” he added.
If the government doesn’t take a positive approach towards our issues, we will further intensify our protest, he said.
In March last week, the State Labour Department (SLD) gave an assurance in writing that Mathadi workers’ interests would be protected. SLD officials said a meeting would be convened soon to resolve their issues.