New Delhi: Thousands of outsourced workers from across Himachal Pradesh are reaching Shimla to gherao the Vidhan Sabha on February 13 against widespread violation of labour laws and exploitation. There are a total of 42,000 outsourced workers in the hill state, according to union sources.
“The state government has consistently adopted an ignorant behaviour towards outsourced employees. Neither any permanent policy is being formed for them, nor are they being regularised. It is not being implemented despite the decision of similar pay for the similar job, as mandated by the Honorable Supreme Court of India. There is open violation of labour laws by outsourcing agencies, but the state government is silent, which is evident from the fact that this government is promoting exploitation,” said a statement issued by the president of Himachal Pradesh Outsourced Workers Union, Yash Pal, and General Secretary Nokh Ram.
The protest, which is being backed by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), will also highlight the fact that most outsourced employees work for 10-12 hours but are not even being paid minimum wages.
“They are being heavily exploited by not being paid for overtime and recruiting fewer employees. They are being deprived of the facilities like EPF, ESI, Bonus, gratuity, holidays etc. In this way these employees are victims of heavy exploitation” Vijender Mehra, CITU State Secretary, told Newsclick.
He said that number of outsourced workers in the state is close to 42,000, out of nearly 2.5 lakh outsourced workers in the country. “Like the former Congress government, the current Bharatiya Janata Party government is also working to mislead outsourced employees. Instead of forming a policy for these employees, the government is trying to mislead them by telling them that their number instead of 42,000 is 10,000” Mehra said.
Part-Time Patwari Assistants Angry
On October 26, 2016 The Supreme Court had declared equal pay for equal work. In a recently concluded meeting of State Committee of Himachal Pradesh Part-time Patwari Sahitya Sanghatna held in Shimla, there was anger over the increase of only Rs 500 for these employees in the state budget. The union expressed strong objection to changing the category of part-time Patwari Assistants in the budget into Revenue Watchmen and demanded that the decision be revoked.
Part-Time Patwari Assistant Union’s state president Suresh Nosheta said the state government was trying to deceive them. “All kinds of work are being done by us, including issuing settlement, mutation, summon, demarcation, certificate issuing from regular families, but we are paid a monthly salary of only Rs 3,000, which is not even half of the minimum wage declared by the state government. Despite making us work for eight hours, we are not being given equal pay for the same work as directed by the Supreme Court.”
Nosheta said the recent budget had done “terrible injustice” to them by changing their category into a Revenue Watchman and the increase of only Rs. 500 in the recent budget has only “sprinkled salt on their wounds”.
He said instead of regularising these employees, the state government by repeatedly trying to change their designation and category, was exploiting them. “When the advertisement was issued for appointment of these patwari assistants in 2017, their post was given as part-time patwari assistant. But upon joining, the name of this post was changed to a part-time class four employee. Now in the budget, have been designated as Revenue Watchmen, which is unconstitutional and illegal. The union has decided that the struggle against this will be intensified” he told Newsclick.