Date and time: 2:00pm to 9:00pm, 25 February 2013. Venue: Near Bus Stand, Dundigal village, Quthbullhapur mandal, Ranga Reddy district. Every year thousands workers from Bolangir, Nuapada, Titlagarh, Kalahandi, Sambalpur districts of Western Odisha mig …

Walton Pantland

Date and time: 2:00pm to 9:00pm, 25 February 2013.

Venue: Near Bus Stand, Dundigal village, Quthbullhapur mandal, Ranga Reddy district.

Every year thousands workers from Bolangir, Nuapada, Titlagarh, Kalahandi, Sambalpur districts of Western Odisha migrate to Ranga Reddy, Nalgonda and Medak districts of Andhra Pradesh to work in brick kilns here. The workers that are involved in the brick making and loading work that goes on from November to June every year are mostly from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes with some from the Other Backward Castes. Usually about one lakh families come with their children to work in the kilns in this region around Hyderabad every year.

The districts of Odisha that these workers come from have little work and income to offer these thousands of families after their rain-fed crop is harvested every year. Out of desperation people in these districts take loans at very high interest rates from exploitative moneylenders. The debt that results forces the labourers to go out seeking work accepting the advances given by the “Sardars” (labour contractors) in Odisha who form a nexus with the brick-kilns owners.

These advances are given with the condition that the labourers go work at pre-determined brick kilns for a specified period. Thus they end up in the brick-kilns around Hyderabad. The nature of the contract with the Sardar and the working conditions here in the brick kilns come very close to, if not constitute, bonded labour. All the workers in all the brick kilns are paid below statutory minimum wages.

According to our estimates, the advance they are given (and they get little else in all the months that they’re working here) if we go by the stipulated minimum wages, correspond to only the first two-three months of their work here. The rest of the months they basically do the work for practically no pay. There are no employee records or wage records in these brick kilns. There is no surveillance and regulation by the labour department. The living conditions are sub-human, nutrition is non-existent. Children of these migrant labourers are particularly vulnerable in terms of access to education, food, shelter and parental care.

Major issues include:

  • Lower than minimum wage payment
  • Health hazards like malnutrition and lack of sanitation
  • No access to the public distribution system for workers in brick kilns
  • Work harassment for more production of bricks seasonally
  • All labourers in semi-bondage condition
  • No schools, I.C.D.S or Anganwadi in/near the brick-kilns
  • Non-implementation of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

To address these issues, we’ve come together to establish a union of Odisha migrant workers in Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh. The first meeting of the Brick-kiln Workers’ Union will be held on 25 February 2013 at Dundigal village, Quthbullhapur Mandal, Ranga Reddy district.

Speakers are as follows:

2 PM TO 9 PM

1. Sri S. Jeevan Kumar (Human Rights Forum)

2. Sri. K.V.S Ramachandra Rao (Advocate of High Court)

3. Sri. B. Pradeep (I.F.T.U State president

4. Sri. G. Vijay (Central University Professor)

5. Sri. Prafull Samantara ( Eminent Odisha Rights speaker)

6. Sri. Sudheer Kumar Katiyar (Prayas)

7. Sri. Charles Wesley Meesa (The Dalit Alliance)

8. Sri. Vengal Reddy (committment)

9. Sri. Vijay Gopal Rao (Advocate of High court)

10. Sri. Trilochan Punji (Advocate of Odisha)

11. Sri. P. Madhavi (Human Rights Forum)

12. Sri. S.L. Padma (I.F.T.U)

13. Sri. U. Praveen (I.F.T.U)

14. Central University students

On behalf of

Brick-kiln Workers’ Union of Ranga Reddy District committee

Contact Persons:

1) A.Krishna-09959098737

2) Tathagata Sen Gupta-09440486707

3) Praveen-09492431440

4) Raghunath Rana -09938607710

 


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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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