– By Sudhir Katiyar Rescued workers leave with their belongings in the Ajmer region Mandal, Bhiwara, Rajasthan After the successful strike in December, things have been a little quiet. The Union has attempted to consolidate. The employers on their side …
– By Sudhir Katiyar
Mandal, Bhiwara, Rajasthan
After the successful strike in December, things have been a little quiet. The Union has attempted to consolidate. The employers on their side have become ever more vigilant.
A public meeting was organized on 23rd March. This was not very successful as around 40 workers only attended it. The employers were able to persuade the workers to not attend the meeting. Their logic was that as the wage rate has been hiked, why should they go for the meeting? They were also able to pressurize the workers as the end of March and the festival marks a period when the mid-term settlement is done. Workers may get paid some advance amount at this point.
Union registration and membership
The Union registration process is in progress. All the objections made by the Registration Authority have been resolved. The membership drive is continuing. Almost 500 members have been enrolled. The exact number is not available as some of the membership diaries are still with the Union volunteers in charge of the registration drive.
Expansion to nearby district of Ajmer
A heartening development has been expansion of union activity to nearby district of Ajmer. The brick kiln workers from Ajmer, when they heard of the successful unionization in Mandal, invited the Union in their area. Two meetings have been held so far. The second meeting was attended by 100 workers. A memorandum to determine wage rate for the season has been given to the employers.
The Union received five group cases. There of these related to payment of wages where the employers were not paying the agreed upon wage rate. These cases were settled after the Union spoke directly with the employers. Two cases related to release of workers from bondage. In these cases, the workers were produced before the state officials. In both cases, workers were released from bondage after state intervention. One of these cases involved a group of 40 persons.
Ranga Reddy District, Andhra Pradesh
The Ranga Reddy district has posed tougher challenge. A public meeting was successfully organized on 25th February. There was a serious incident of violence when the Union team that went to a kiln to investigate a case of bondage was attacked violently by a large group of kiln owners. The Union is now working at multiple fronts
Filing minimum wage cases: Twenty minimum wage cases have been filed in the local Labor Court.
Visit of Member of Parliament on 10th April: Visit of a Member of Parliament from Odisha has been organized to highlight atrocities being committed on kiln workers.
An online petition has been started to put pressure on the Government to file police cases.
A public meeting is scheduled in Dundigal on 21st April. This will be followed by another meeting in a nearby area.
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