Followers of USi will be aware of our ongoing support for a unionisation drive in India’s brick kiln sector. Over the last couple of weeks a number of worrying developments have occurred leading to union project workers being bullied, intimidated, jailed and attacked. Please read and sign the petition organised by our partners Prayas to put an end to these breaches of human rights.
The incident represents violation of human rights of almost 200,000 brick kiln workers from Odisha toiling in AP under bondage, a practice banned under law. When workers and human rights activists raise demands for their rights, they are being violently attacked.
Chief Minster of Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister
Workers in brick kilns being forced to work under bondage and assault on human rights defender
We draw your attention to a gross violation of human rights right near the state capital of Hyderabad. Every year tens of thousands of workers from Odisha come to work in the brick kilns of Andhra Pradesh (AP). The workers are brought against advances and then not paid any wages while they work here. They are made to work up to 16 hours a day and work under most pitiable conditions.
Every year there are many cases of workers being released from bondage. I attach a list of such cases since 2006. Last year, for the first time workers demanded implementation of minimum wages and stopped work for two days in Dundigal area. The District Magistrate ordered a multi-stakeholder enquiry into work conditions. I enclose a copy of this report. The report clearly shows that bondage conditions prevail in brick kilns. This infuriated the owners and they started threatening the lead mobilizer, Krishna.
One week back, Krishna received a call from workers of brick kiln owned by Vemkataswarulu in Tukuguda village of Maheshwram mandal of Ranga Reddy district that they were being forced to work under gun point. Krishna went to investigate the matter along with a group of sympathisers from Central University that included two female students. The group spoke to workers to ascertain the actual conditions. While returning, the group was stopped by a large group of owners numbering more than 30 who gheraoed them. They attacked the male members of the party, tore their clothes and beat them up severally. A police party came but sided with the owners.
The most unfortunate part of the incident is that when the team met the ACP Shamsabad, Srinivas Rao on 17th March, he sided with the owners. He refused to listen to Krishna. He also asked the team not to go to the kilns. Sir, this is a most unfortunate that such large scale violation of human rights of migrant workers is taking place. The state machinery is not taking action and when civil society tries to intervene, there is violent assault and the state machinery sides with the attackers.
We demand that:
A police case be registered immediately in the case of assault on Krishna and his team members
ACP Shamsabad, Srinivas Rao, who sided with owners be reprimanded.
The bonded workers at the brick kiln of Venkatareswulu be released forthwith from bondage.
An enquiry be ordered into the working conditions of brick kilns and conditions improved.
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