UP: Unions Across Unorganised Sector Meet in Lucknow to Form Collective for Joint Struggles
Lucknow: Unions across the unorganised sector in Uttar Pradesh have come together to form their first-ever umbrella platform to press for their rights for minimum wages, social security, Ayushman Bharat cards, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, health insurance. They also want workers registered on the e-Shram portal to be included in the list of beneficiaries in government schemes and implementation of a law with the guarantee of 100 days of work in a year to each household, even in urban areas.
Daily wage earners from rural areas, agricultural labourers, domestic workers and those engaged in construction and mining sectors assembled in Lucknow to attend a general body meeting of the unorganised workers on Tuesday. At least 75 leaders of unorganised sectors from across the state were represented at the meeting.
Dinkar Kapoor, who is president, UP Workers' Front, pointed out that 8.30 crore labourers have been registered on the e-Shram portal in Uttar Pradesh.
"Article 21, 39, 41 and 43 of the Constitution gives the right to every citizen of India to lead a dignified life. But unfortunately, there is no plan for 95% of the workers working in the unorganised sector, which contributes 45% to the country's GDP. For their social security, a law was made in 2008, in view of the plight of laborers during the pandemic, an e-Shram portal was created on the orders of the Supreme Court. But till date the Social Security Act has not been implemented. The government talks big about the beneficiaries, if the government is honest then all the workers registered on the e-portal should be given the benefit of the schemes run by the government by giving them the status of beneficiaries," Kapoor said.
Brij Bihari, secretary of Mazdoor Kisan Manch said that labourers and common people should come together to strengthen the rights which they had gained after prolonged struggles. Despite the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act's (NREGA) provision for 100 days' employment in a year, the work and fair wages were being denied to the rural people, he said.
He said that the Modi government was "killing off" the scheme by cutting budgets and delaying payments, making it very difficult for rural workers to benefit from it.
The unorganised sector union leaders affirmed that the new union would fight against the Uttar Pradesh government's drive for privatisation of education and healthcare services and demanded the release of NREGA wages, pensions and monthly rations.
Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) state secretary Avinash Pandey said that most of the labourers in the state are forced to work for less than Rs 10,000 wages and somehow manage their family's livelihood. The condition is so bad in the state that even the minimum wages have not been revised for the last five years.
The leader of the Domestic Workers Rights Forum, Farida Jalees, said that despite the resolution signed by the Central government in the ILO Convention and the order of the Supreme Court, neither for domestic workers the law has been made and neither the board has been constituted.
Indian National Trade Union Congress' Sanjay Rai said that in the era of information revolution, there is no rule law for newly joined gig and platform workers. The Rajasthan government has already made a law and such a law is needed in Uttar Pradesh as well.
The Uttar Pradesh government has registered the maximum number of its unorganised sector workers, a whopping 8.30 crore, far surpassing the number from all labour-intensive states, on the Centre's e-Shram portal.
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