Why Are AAP And DTC Silent Over The Demands Of Contractual Workers?
After staging protests for quite a long time, contractual workers reinforced their demand silently by not showing up for work. Commuters around Delhi faced inconvenience on Sunday as a section of contractual drivers and conductors working with the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) went on a mass leave in support of various demands, including their demand to revert the decrease in their wages. As per the workers, DTC has reduced the wages of contractual workers (including drivers and conductors) following a high court order. On August 5, the Delhi High Court had quashed a March 2017 notification of revising the minimum wages for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers in the city, saying that it was “ultra vires Article 14” of the Constitution of India.
Following the high court judgement, the DTC issued a circular saying that it has decided to pay the minimum rate of wages to its workers. The circular read, “Pending receipt of the orders from GNCTD on the subject, it has now been decided by the DTC to pay the minimum rates of wages to its workmen/ contractual employees as per the following formula: Last minimum wages paid to all class of workmen/employees before issuance of GNCTD’s notification dated 3.3.2017 which was effective from 1.10.2016 plus two DA applicable w.e.f. 1.4.2017 & 1.4.2018.”
Since the issuance of the circular, disgruntled workers have been protesting and urging the DTC to withdraw its decision. “After receiving the circular workers decided that rather than protesting, they should go on a mass leave. They burnt all the circulars,” said Abhishek, General Secretary, AICCTU, Delhi, who has been following the development on the ground.
A WAY TO LET THEIR VOICE REACH THE AUTHORITIES
Sources believe that the decision of ‘mass leaves’ was not just a mark of protest but a way to establish the fact that their absence at work can hamper the working of the corporation. “And yes, it happened. Permanent employees from both the shifts were asked to work in a single shift and twice in a day. Almost 80 per cent of the contractual workers didn’t come on Raksha Bandhan. There was unity, which showcases that everyone is distressed by this new development. Yet, as many as 50 buses were active, which again shows that they work tirelessly the entire day and are paid less than the permanent workers,” said Abhishek.
“The high court order has quashed the order of revising the minimum wages, they haven’t asked to reduce the maximum wage or the current wage. The workers are working relentlessly, how will they survive at this amount. It is a legitimate demand and has to be seen like that,” added Abhishek.
Sources have revealed that the DTC is also planning to recover the bonus and the “hike” they had given to workers. “We just got to know that our hike and bonus will be recovered from our salary. It’s sad. The high court didn’t ask them to recover previous payments. Why are they doing this to poor people like us? After the circular by the DTC, the contractual driver’s salary has been reduced by Rs. 10,000 and the contractual conductor’s salary by Rs. 6,000. The saddest part is that nobody came to listen to our grievances. They haven’t even acknowledged the problems.” said Naresh, a contractual driver, who has been working for 13 years.
Newsclick also tried speaking with several officials of the DTC, but they dodged the question saying that the reporter should talk to the PR. They even said that they don't know anything about this matter. Umpteen attempts were made by Newsclick to contact the Delhi Labour Minister Gopal Rai but it was unable to get through.
Why Not Implement Section 25?
The demands of the workers are not limited to their rejection of the reduction in the wages but also the discrimination faced by them when they work for the same hours as permanent workmen. According to Section 25 in the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Central Rules, 1971 – in cases where the workman employed by the contractor perform the same or similar kind of work as the workmen directly employed by the principal employer of the establishment, the wage rates, holidays, hours of work, and other conditions of service of the workmen of the contractor shall be the same as applicable to the workmen directly employed by the principal employer of the establishment on the same or similar kind of work.
“Why don’t they implement Section 25? The contractual workers are working more than the permanent workers. Even the nature of their work is same. This is not a seasonal job but a regular job. Then why this discrimination? Any notice which is against the workers is applied without any prior thought. They are poor people. How will they survive?,” Abhishek told Newsclick.
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