Indian brick kiln workers are rising up: almost 1,000 workers attended a recent meeting of Majdoor Adhikar Manch, a general workers Union in Gujarat, in the middle of a campaign with construction workers of Ahmedabad. Meeting to be held at Ashok Udyan, …

Walton Pantland
Indian brick kiln workers are rising up: almost 1,000 workers attended a recent meeting of Majdoor Adhikar Manch, a general workers Union in Gujarat, in the middle of a campaign with construction workers of Ahmedabad.

Indian brick kiln workers are rising up: almost 1,000 workers attended a recent meeting of Majdoor Adhikar Manch, a general workers Union in Gujarat, in the middle of a campaign with construction workers of Ahmedabad.

Meeting to be held at Ashok Udyan, Kayad, near Ajmer, Beawar Kishangarh Highway on 10th December 2013

Nearly 2,500 brick kiln workers of 15 brick kilns around Ajmer have called for a public meeting on 10th December, 2013 in support of their demand charter asking for higher wages across different categories of work. It is likely that if the brick kiln owners do not negotiate and reach a mutually acceptable solution, the workers may go on strike from that day. The workers are demanding Rs. 525 per 1000 bricks for thapera workers (who constitute almost two third of the workers). Last year the workers received Rs. 400. Similar hikes have been demanded for other categories of workers.

Majority of the workers are dalits and belong to the Bavri caste.
There are also some migrants from Chhattisgarh. Brick kiln workers constitute one of the most exploited sections of the working class in India. Hired against advances, they are paid a low piece rate. Wages are settled only at the end of the season lasting six months or more.
Workers have to work for up to 16 hours a day and are forced to deploy even their children for work. Violence is frequent and there is high probability of sexual exploitation. Nearly all the workers come under the category of bonded labor. Last year the Union got a large group of workers released from bondage from a brick kiln near Ajmer.

The workers have been organized by Rajasthan Pradesh Int Bhatta Majdoor Union since last year. Meetings were held last year also, however a wage struggle could not be launched as the season was getting over. The Union had given the demand charter to the employers and the Ajmer Labor Department seeking fixation of wages in the industry three months back. The employers responded by threatening the Union activists. Meetings have been held with the workers in their villages in the off season. A meeting was held on 4th December at Ashok Udyan Kayad where it was decided to give employers some more time for negotiations.

We call upon all progressive people, and especially in Rajasthan in Ajmer Jaipur region, to support the struggle and attend the meeting on 10th December. Joining the struggle for human rights of one of the most exploited sections of society would be a fitting way to celebrate International Human Rights Day.

Madan Vaishnav (9468579073), Secretary of the Union, is the contact person.


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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