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National Convention for Working Women Resolves to Strengthen Organisation in New Sectors

The Convention, in which delegates from various states participated noted how across the country, women were facing harassment in their workplaces, and that there was disparity in pay structures for working women, particularly in private offices.

Kolkata: The recently concluded 12th National Convention for Working Women, organised by the All India Coordination Committee for Working Women (AICCWW) held at Binani Hall here, has called for reaching out to unorganised women workers across the country. The Convention, in which delegates from various states participated noted how across the country, women were facing harassment in their workplaces; that there was disparity in pay structures for working women, particularly in private offices.

The rule of ‘same work, same pay’ was not being pursued by the private sector of the country, discussions at the Convention observed. Delegates asserted that the present BJP government at the Centre had not formulated any laws to address this problem, nor were the present laws being used efficiently.

Speaking at the Convention, K Hemlata, president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) emphasised how more and more working women should be enthused to join the organisation. She said that women should be more politically aware of their situation and in new sectors the organisation should build its reach.

“Rightly, in various states, Ola and Uber women cab drivers have been brought under the ambit of the organisation and the organisation of domestic helpers is also gathering strength. However, it should be noted that in rural India, during the menstruation cycle women are not allowed to work in sugar cane fields or in paddy fields,” she said, raising demand for their free access to the fields. Hemlata added that the organisation should try to reach to the agrarian women labourers and daily wage earners.

The problems of working women like the Anganwadi and ASHA workers, whereby they do not receive any maternity benefits, was also discussed in the Convention. Although, there is a law in this regard, it is still disregarded in many states. Private organisations give maternity leaves but not without salary deductions, the delegates complained in the Convention.

The issue of sexual abuse of women in the workplace was also discussed in the Convention. It was pointed out that in many offices women work on night shifts without any safety net. When they complain, they face termination of their work from the organisation. Fearing this, women are forced to maintain a stoic silence, the delegates said.

"Under such conditions, work ethics are not maintained and if the work productivity of women workers decreases, then throughout the country there will be a negative economic impact.

The condition of agrarian working women is not much better,” said AR Sindhu, the outgoing convenor of the organisation.

From the Convention, a 70-member committee of the organisation has been constituted. Sindhu has been re-elected as the convenor of the organisation .

Earlier on Saturday, Sindhu had placed the draft political-organisational report in the convention. She called on the assembled women delegates from various organised sections of the working class movement to do time management while making the chart of upcoming struggles and movements. She also highlighted the steps taken by CITU to make the AICCWW under the CITU into a more cohesive unit.

Over 300 delegates from all over the country took part in the convention. The Convention area was renamed Ranana Nirula Nagar, and the stage was renamed after Shibani Sengupta and Nisha Roy Mancha.

On Saturday, Tapan Sen, general secretary of CITU inaugurated the delegate session of the conference and highlighted that not Manuvaad, but on the contrary only more and more participation from the working women of the country can make the country into a happy secular society. He also took potshots at the RSS for its “gender discriminatory outlook” that tries to keep women indoors.

Addressing the delegates, Sen said that “CITU had started this work of organising working class women since 1979. Now other Left trade unions are also doing the work.” He also appealed to the women working in renowned organisations to reach out to the women who are not so privileged.

Advocate and Rajya Sabha MP Bikashranjan Bhattacharya as the president of the reception committee spoke about the heritage of Bengal and said that “Kolkata as a city of Ram Mohan Roy to Gurudev Tagore is the seat of women empowerment. It also enthusses us when we see women in the first row of struggles against inequality and gender discrimination. The city where Vidyasagar worked or Ram Mohan started his movement for stopping the sati system should be an inspiration for the women delegates present in the convention."

Prior to the Convention a huge meeting was also held at Burrabazar area, where Tapan Sen, AR Sindhu, CITU West Bengal leaders Anadi Sahoo and Subhash Mukherjee spoke. The session was presided over by another trade union leader, Madhumita Bandhyapadhya.

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