Andhra Pradesh: Trade unions in the state are intensifying the workers’ struggle protesting against the worsened economic conditions, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent countrywide lockdwon. On Tuesday, June 23, contract and outsourced employees in gram panchayats across districts participated in protest demonstrations demanding regularisation of their jobs even as the municipal workers’ protest demanding regularisation has reached the 12th day. Besides, workers are raising their voices against illegal layoffs, increase in fuel and essential items prices and are demanding job security and protection from COVID-19.
“We are questioning why Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy is not keeping his assurance (made when in opposition in Assembly) to regularise the jobs of all contract and outsourced workers even after more than a year of his regime. Since the outbreak of coronavirus, six municipal workers and three gram panchayat workers have died in the state. These crucial frontline workers are not even being provided with safety equipment or transport facilities in their covid-19 duties,” said K Uma Maheswara Rao, state general Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Municipal Workers and Employees Federation, which is affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions .
He added that it is crucial for the government to recognise the hard work of contract and outsourced municipal and gram panchayat workers categories as non muster roll staff, part-time workers, Dwakra, CMEY and so on, and provide them with job and health securities.
Over 90,000 municipal and gram panchayat contract and outsourced workers will benefit from regularisation of jobs.
Also read: Andhra: Municipal Workers to Intensify Protests Demanding Regularisation of Jobs
Meanwhile, 10 trade unions including in the state including Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) and the ruling party affiliated YSR Trade Union are campaigning for their joint one day strike call for ‘civil disobedience, non cooperation’ termed as ‘sahaya nirakarana, shasana ullangana’ on July 3.
Alongside the July 3 strike campaign, transport workers joined by trade unions are protesting against the increased petrol and diesel prices.
Workers’ movement is intensifying mainly because the working class especially the unorganised sector workers are severely hit due to the pandemic, said Ch Narasinga Rao, state CITU president. “The July 3 strike will be followed by a two-day protests by coal sector workers against the central government’s move to commercialise coal mining,” said Rao.
ASHA Workers Regularisation
On June 25, about 40,000 ASHA workers in the state will be participating in ‘All India ASHA Workers Demands Day’ with the main demand for regularisation of their workforce. “ASHA workers do not have assigned working hours, holidays, maternity and insurance benefits. Workers who are at the forefront of COVID-19 duties are not even being provided with proper safety equipment forcing them to risk their lives. ASHA workers are also being denied benefits of government schemes. The only way to resolve all the issues is to regularise them,” explained C Dhanalakshmi, Andhra Pradesh ASHA Workers’ Union General Secretary.
In a representation submitted to the Chief Minister’s Office and other government authorities, the union has urged the government to provide Rs 10,000 COVID-19 allowance to the ASHAs.
Dhanalakshmi told NewsClick that 16 ASHA workers have died in the state after the virus outbreak and 14 of them were doing COVID-19 related duties. She demanded that the government should immediately provide Rs 50 lakh insurance to all the deceased workers.
As of June 23 morning, the state reported 9,384 COVID-19 positive cases of which 5,123 are active cases and 119 are dead.