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Safai Karamchari Andolan campaigns against dry latrines

100-day campaign aims to end the unfair burden on Dalit women

09 Jan 2021

Safai karamchari

The Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA) has started a hundred-day campaign at Bhagwanpur Uttarakhand, to put an end to the inhuman practice of manual scavenging. They plan to take this campaign to seven states and their primary focus is to bring an end to dry toilet, which unfairly and disproportionately affects Dalit women. 

The campaign was announced by Safai Karmachari Andolan concvenor Bezwada Wilson on Twitter:

 


In a developing nation such as India, not everyone has access to hygienic toilets with flushing capacity. Many people often need to rely on dry toilets (toilets without flushes) to meet their needs.

The hon’ble Supreme Court in Safai Karamchari Andolan And Ors vs Union Of India And Ors (2014) held that there are 96 lakh dry toilets in India. These are the figures of 2014, when the government’s Swach Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) was only in its initial stages. This scheme incentivised rural areas to set up more toilets; however, due to lack of infrastructure, they could only set up dry toilets.

Here lies the irony of the SBA campaign, while it assures dignity to women by providing them with a toilet, it takes away the dignity of Dalit women who must clean these washrooms with their bare hands. The burden of cleaning dry toilets unfairly falls on women because these toilets are typically within households.

A report by the International Dalit Solidarity Network reveals that 95-98 percent of manual scavengers in India are women. This insidious practice robs women of all their dignity and reputation in the society, as members begin to shun them and tacitly declare them as untouchables. Along with this, the report also stated that women performing these tasks are sexually harassed by upper caste and even lower caste men. Moreover, unlike male manual scavengers who are paid Rs. 300/day, women are only paid Rs. 10-50/day.  

Women carry human excreta, from dry toilets to the disposal areas, in buckets which they carry on their heads and hips. When it rains, the excreta drips from the buckets onto the women’s clothes and their face. Baby, from Madhya Pradesh told Human Rights Watch, “I was 15 or 16, my sister-in-law and I cleaned toilets in 100 houses. I carried the basket on my head and during the rains it would leak all over my body. My hair fell out in patches. No one helped me. They ridiculed me.” 

Such abject humiliation is still a secondary concern, because human excreta carries dangerous viruses such as Hepatitis A, E. coli and Rotavirus. Which causes death in early 40’s in the manual scavenger community. Since manual scavenging falls under the informal sector, women find it difficult to enforce rights such as maternity leaves. Kiran, a manual scavenger, told the Human Rights Watch, “I was three or four months pregnant. There was no one to help me carry the heavy baskets. We that had to collect the feces, carry it on our head and our hip, and then go and throw it somewhere else. Because of that reason my baby miscarried.”

This barbaric practice eventually locks Dalit women of every generation into its evil tentacles. The burden of cleaning toilets is passed on to younger women within the family and any reticence, would instigate a social boycott by their villagers and even the family.

The discrimination faced by the women doesn’t stop at them, it goes to further haunt their children. Moreover, children from these families rarely get education, even if they do, they are forced to sit separately from the other students and have minimal interactions with the other kids because of the fear of getting polluted. Worse, many children are forced to clean the washrooms at their schools. Such humiliation causes children to undergo severe mental trauma which eventually leads to them dropping out of school and giving up on their dreams of becoming doctors and scientists.

Seema, a mother from Madhya Pradesh, told Human Rights Watch, “I learned my daughters were being made to sweep the floors in school. I went to the school and asked why my children were being made to sweep. First, the teacher said “They are not being singled out.” Then, she said, “What do you expect? Your caste is responsible for this work.”

The existence of such a task itself is an affront to the dignity of mankind at large and makes one wonder, whether humans are truly developing or is it just the ‘upper-castes’ and privileged people who are enjoying the fruits of development? 

Forcing women to do such tasks clearly violates article 14 of this constitution which promises not only equality, but also equity. Women who are forced to do such tasks are not given adequate pay, education, basic amenities, and healthcare. This forces them to continue doing what they are doing and are robbed of the chance to lead a better life. Articles 15 & 17 of the Constitution are also violated as there is sufficient evidence to prove that manual scavenging only propagates discrimination and untouchability. Further, it also violates article 21. In Kharak Singh v the State of Uttar Pradesh and Others it was held that “life” doesn’t mean mere animal existence, rather it means a life with dignity. 

Existence of manual scavenging also violates numerous international conventions such as articles 1 and 23 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which mandates States to uphold dignity, equality, fair remuneration and social security for all human beings. It also violates International Labour Organization’s conventions such as the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No 29) and the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (C100). 

The campaign taken up by Safai Karamchari Andolan is a noble one, and the State ought to support this initiative and it must also take up the additional responsibility of sensitising the masses on the evils of untouchability and caste-based discrimination. For ending dry toilets, won’t resolve this complex issue by itself.

 

Related:

Death down the drain

Manual Scavenging: Why the gov’t’s conscience is not clean about the Swachh Bharat Mission

Your Shit Kills!

Safai Karamchari Andolan campaigns against dry latrines

100-day campaign aims to end the unfair burden on Dalit women

Safai karamchari

The Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA) has started a hundred-day campaign at Bhagwanpur Uttarakhand, to put an end to the inhuman practice of manual scavenging. They plan to take this campaign to seven states and their primary focus is to bring an end to dry toilet, which unfairly and disproportionately affects Dalit women. 

The campaign was announced by Safai Karmachari Andolan concvenor Bezwada Wilson on Twitter:

 


In a developing nation such as India, not everyone has access to hygienic toilets with flushing capacity. Many people often need to rely on dry toilets (toilets without flushes) to meet their needs.

The hon’ble Supreme Court in Safai Karamchari Andolan And Ors vs Union Of India And Ors (2014) held that there are 96 lakh dry toilets in India. These are the figures of 2014, when the government’s Swach Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) was only in its initial stages. This scheme incentivised rural areas to set up more toilets; however, due to lack of infrastructure, they could only set up dry toilets.

Here lies the irony of the SBA campaign, while it assures dignity to women by providing them with a toilet, it takes away the dignity of Dalit women who must clean these washrooms with their bare hands. The burden of cleaning dry toilets unfairly falls on women because these toilets are typically within households.

A report by the International Dalit Solidarity Network reveals that 95-98 percent of manual scavengers in India are women. This insidious practice robs women of all their dignity and reputation in the society, as members begin to shun them and tacitly declare them as untouchables. Along with this, the report also stated that women performing these tasks are sexually harassed by upper caste and even lower caste men. Moreover, unlike male manual scavengers who are paid Rs. 300/day, women are only paid Rs. 10-50/day.  

Women carry human excreta, from dry toilets to the disposal areas, in buckets which they carry on their heads and hips. When it rains, the excreta drips from the buckets onto the women’s clothes and their face. Baby, from Madhya Pradesh told Human Rights Watch, “I was 15 or 16, my sister-in-law and I cleaned toilets in 100 houses. I carried the basket on my head and during the rains it would leak all over my body. My hair fell out in patches. No one helped me. They ridiculed me.” 

Such abject humiliation is still a secondary concern, because human excreta carries dangerous viruses such as Hepatitis A, E. coli and Rotavirus. Which causes death in early 40’s in the manual scavenger community. Since manual scavenging falls under the informal sector, women find it difficult to enforce rights such as maternity leaves. Kiran, a manual scavenger, told the Human Rights Watch, “I was three or four months pregnant. There was no one to help me carry the heavy baskets. We that had to collect the feces, carry it on our head and our hip, and then go and throw it somewhere else. Because of that reason my baby miscarried.”

This barbaric practice eventually locks Dalit women of every generation into its evil tentacles. The burden of cleaning toilets is passed on to younger women within the family and any reticence, would instigate a social boycott by their villagers and even the family.

The discrimination faced by the women doesn’t stop at them, it goes to further haunt their children. Moreover, children from these families rarely get education, even if they do, they are forced to sit separately from the other students and have minimal interactions with the other kids because of the fear of getting polluted. Worse, many children are forced to clean the washrooms at their schools. Such humiliation causes children to undergo severe mental trauma which eventually leads to them dropping out of school and giving up on their dreams of becoming doctors and scientists.

Seema, a mother from Madhya Pradesh, told Human Rights Watch, “I learned my daughters were being made to sweep the floors in school. I went to the school and asked why my children were being made to sweep. First, the teacher said “They are not being singled out.” Then, she said, “What do you expect? Your caste is responsible for this work.”

The existence of such a task itself is an affront to the dignity of mankind at large and makes one wonder, whether humans are truly developing or is it just the ‘upper-castes’ and privileged people who are enjoying the fruits of development? 

Forcing women to do such tasks clearly violates article 14 of this constitution which promises not only equality, but also equity. Women who are forced to do such tasks are not given adequate pay, education, basic amenities, and healthcare. This forces them to continue doing what they are doing and are robbed of the chance to lead a better life. Articles 15 & 17 of the Constitution are also violated as there is sufficient evidence to prove that manual scavenging only propagates discrimination and untouchability. Further, it also violates article 21. In Kharak Singh v the State of Uttar Pradesh and Others it was held that “life” doesn’t mean mere animal existence, rather it means a life with dignity. 

Existence of manual scavenging also violates numerous international conventions such as articles 1 and 23 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which mandates States to uphold dignity, equality, fair remuneration and social security for all human beings. It also violates International Labour Organization’s conventions such as the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No 29) and the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (C100). 

The campaign taken up by Safai Karamchari Andolan is a noble one, and the State ought to support this initiative and it must also take up the additional responsibility of sensitising the masses on the evils of untouchability and caste-based discrimination. For ending dry toilets, won’t resolve this complex issue by itself.

 

Related:

Death down the drain

Manual Scavenging: Why the gov’t’s conscience is not clean about the Swachh Bharat Mission

Your Shit Kills!

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Garbage piles up in Ahmedabad, as sanitation workers strike work

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s sanitation workers strike has entered its fifth day today

28 Dec 2020

sanitation workers
Image courtesy: Times of India
 

Stack of household garbage is reported to be piling up along the roadsides in several parts of Ahmedabad city. According to a new report a strike called by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s (AMC) sanitation workers has entered its fifth day today. The association stated that around 15,000 regular sanitation workers of the AMC are on strike. The workers, who are demanding the right to secure compassionate jobs to their kin, will continue the sit-in protest outside the corporation’s north-west zone office on Monday till  6 pm. On Tuesday, the protestors will gather at the corporation’s headquarters in Danapith and submit a representation, stated the news report.

The IE report quoted Ahmedabad Municipal Servants’ Association secretary Kalpesh Makwana saying: “Until we are assured that our kin will get jobs, we are going to continue with the dharna and not resume work. Since we are tagged as safai kamdar, our children do not get any other job. This is the reason we are raising this demand for our children.” According to Makwana  the AMC regularised 6,200 safai kamdars on April 4, 2018, but their kin are still being denied jobs on compassionate grounds. “The AMC is following two policies for safai kamdar. Except for these 6,200 regular sanitation workers, family members of all others are provided compassionate jobs,” he was quoted by IE, adding that as the workers’ dharna outside AMC’s Bodakdev zonal office continued garbage was seen dumped on the road in city’s Vastrapur area.

Sanitation workers often fall ill after prolonged exposure to all kinds of waste products. Hence many are unable to work beyond a point, or even succumb to various diseases, and thus a job on compassionate grounds for their kin becomes essential for the family. 

Though not related directly to this group an example of the risks sanitation workers, especially those working as ‘manual scavengers’, can be read in a report released recently by the ‘Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan’[1], stated that Gujarat reported 62 deaths of manual scavengers, followed by Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh reporting 29 deaths each. Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu followed this ignominious record, reporting 24 deaths each. These figures are in stark contradiction with the state-wise data released by National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), a statutory body set up by an Act of Parliament for the welfare of sanitation workers.

Related:

Valmiki sanitation workers go on strike demanding justice in Hathras case

Death by excreta: The cursed lives of India's manual scavengers

Garbage piles up in Ahmedabad, as sanitation workers strike work

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s sanitation workers strike has entered its fifth day today

sanitation workers
Image courtesy: Times of India
 

Stack of household garbage is reported to be piling up along the roadsides in several parts of Ahmedabad city. According to a new report a strike called by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s (AMC) sanitation workers has entered its fifth day today. The association stated that around 15,000 regular sanitation workers of the AMC are on strike. The workers, who are demanding the right to secure compassionate jobs to their kin, will continue the sit-in protest outside the corporation’s north-west zone office on Monday till  6 pm. On Tuesday, the protestors will gather at the corporation’s headquarters in Danapith and submit a representation, stated the news report.

The IE report quoted Ahmedabad Municipal Servants’ Association secretary Kalpesh Makwana saying: “Until we are assured that our kin will get jobs, we are going to continue with the dharna and not resume work. Since we are tagged as safai kamdar, our children do not get any other job. This is the reason we are raising this demand for our children.” According to Makwana  the AMC regularised 6,200 safai kamdars on April 4, 2018, but their kin are still being denied jobs on compassionate grounds. “The AMC is following two policies for safai kamdar. Except for these 6,200 regular sanitation workers, family members of all others are provided compassionate jobs,” he was quoted by IE, adding that as the workers’ dharna outside AMC’s Bodakdev zonal office continued garbage was seen dumped on the road in city’s Vastrapur area.

Sanitation workers often fall ill after prolonged exposure to all kinds of waste products. Hence many are unable to work beyond a point, or even succumb to various diseases, and thus a job on compassionate grounds for their kin becomes essential for the family. 

Though not related directly to this group an example of the risks sanitation workers, especially those working as ‘manual scavengers’, can be read in a report released recently by the ‘Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan’[1], stated that Gujarat reported 62 deaths of manual scavengers, followed by Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh reporting 29 deaths each. Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu followed this ignominious record, reporting 24 deaths each. These figures are in stark contradiction with the state-wise data released by National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), a statutory body set up by an Act of Parliament for the welfare of sanitation workers.

Related:

Valmiki sanitation workers go on strike demanding justice in Hathras case

Death by excreta: The cursed lives of India's manual scavengers

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A 2020 Report of 10 Worst Victims of Apathy: India’s Migrant Workers

How the unplanned and sudden lockdown led to chaos, suffering and even death

26 Dec 2020

migrant workers

The lockdown announced by the Government of India on March 23, 2020 has had a disproportionately large impact on the migrant workers. While countless faced starvation and homelessness, many even lost their lives. Here’s a look at how an apathetic State ignored some of the most vulnerable people in the country.

1) Mohammed Jamaluddin, a 39-year-old skilled mason who had been working in Mumbai for the last 13 years, was forced to leave the city and take an arduous journey back home to Birbhum, West Bengal. At first, he took two consequent journeys by bus, then travelled by truck, then a short distance even on foot, before again boarding a truck so that he could get home1 Along the way he was forced to bribe policemen who kept demanding he turn around and go back. Read more about his ordeal here.

2) A bus carrying 70 Odia migrant workers from Surat swerved off the road at KalingaGhati in Kandhamal district of Odisha killing one person and severely injuring another. 40 others sustained minor injuries.

3) Ranvir Singh, a migrant worker set on a foot-journey to his village 308 km away in Madhya Pradesh after losing his Job in Delhi due to financial uncertainty. He passed away after covering 200 kms due to a heart attack on Kailash Mod on National Highway - 2. He was last heard over the phone complaining of chest pain and asking for help.

4) Gangamma, a construction labourer in Ballari, who was on her way home to Raichur after having covered over 300 kms on foot, passed away on April 7, at VIMS hospital, Ballari allegedly due to starvation and negligence at the quarantine shelter.

5) Munna Sheikh, a 27-year-old auto driver, had moved to Mumbai from Bihar 15 years ago. He was living in Bandra’sShastri Nagar, a low-income neighbourhood with a few friends. When the lockdown began his source of income dried up. CJP came to his rescue with emergency rations, but his ordeal was far from over. Though he and his friends filled out forms to board Shramik trains, they did not receive any response. Thus, when they heard a rumour that a train was leaving for Bihar on May 19, they rushed to Bandra where police rained lathis on a large number of people desperate to go back home. Though Munna and his friends somehow managed to catch the train, it took them 62 hours to reach Katihar, Bihar! Read more about his ordeal here.

6) Locals in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh resisted the entry of the 200 migrants who were brought back home after they were stranded at Tamil Nadu due to the lockdown on May 1, despite the authorities explaining that they have tested negative for Covid-19. The arguments led to clashes and police had to resort to lathi charge to disperse the angry villagers, the situation was resolved when the migrants were allowed to quarantine at a local school.

7) RajuSahni, a 40-year-old migrant worker who may have been cycling to his home state, was found unconscious by a passer-by on the roadside who informed the police. Sahni was taken to the hospital where he was declared ‘brought dead’. A police officer said, “He worked at a private firm in Ankleshwar and had cycled from Ankleshwar till here. But we cannot say for sure whether he was travelling back to his native town all the way to UP or to Vadodara from where trains to UP have commenced.”

8) 35-year-old Ganesh Yadav, a cook from Madhubani Bihar had been living in Mumbai for 20 years. The sudden lockdown forced him to live indoors in his one room dwelling in the scorching heat with his family of five until May. With police patrolling the streets he and his family used the paid toilet once or twice a day. With his source of income coming to a standstill and earnings dwindling, CJP volunteers came to his rescue and provided him much-needed ration along with information regarding ways of getting home. When he did eventually manage to board a train, the 18-hour journey stretched to 72 hours! The family was given no food by authorities and had to depend on the biscuits they had carried and food-packets distributed by some people, a day after the journey began. Read all about his ordeal here.

9) A clip was widely circulated on social media on May 27, of a toddler playing with a shroud covering his dead mother at a railway station in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. According to the woman’s family, she died due to the heat and lack of food and water. The woman had boarded the train with her sister and her family from Ahmedabad, Gujarat to Katihar, Bihar and collapsed shortly before reaching Muzaffarpur.

10) In a shocking incident 16 migrant workers were crushed to death in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad region by a freight train on May 8. The workers were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna, 157 kms apart, to board a ‘Shramik Special’ train to return to Madhya Pradesh. Exhausted, they slept on the railway tracks thinking they would be safe if the trains were not running when the mishap occurred between Madnapur and Karmad stations in Nanded division. While 14 of them died immediately, 2 of them succumbed to their injuries later. 

 

Related

Migrant Diaries

A 2020 Report of 10 Worst Victims of Apathy: India’s Migrant Workers

How the unplanned and sudden lockdown led to chaos, suffering and even death

migrant workers

The lockdown announced by the Government of India on March 23, 2020 has had a disproportionately large impact on the migrant workers. While countless faced starvation and homelessness, many even lost their lives. Here’s a look at how an apathetic State ignored some of the most vulnerable people in the country.

1) Mohammed Jamaluddin, a 39-year-old skilled mason who had been working in Mumbai for the last 13 years, was forced to leave the city and take an arduous journey back home to Birbhum, West Bengal. At first, he took two consequent journeys by bus, then travelled by truck, then a short distance even on foot, before again boarding a truck so that he could get home1 Along the way he was forced to bribe policemen who kept demanding he turn around and go back. Read more about his ordeal here.

2) A bus carrying 70 Odia migrant workers from Surat swerved off the road at KalingaGhati in Kandhamal district of Odisha killing one person and severely injuring another. 40 others sustained minor injuries.

3) Ranvir Singh, a migrant worker set on a foot-journey to his village 308 km away in Madhya Pradesh after losing his Job in Delhi due to financial uncertainty. He passed away after covering 200 kms due to a heart attack on Kailash Mod on National Highway - 2. He was last heard over the phone complaining of chest pain and asking for help.

4) Gangamma, a construction labourer in Ballari, who was on her way home to Raichur after having covered over 300 kms on foot, passed away on April 7, at VIMS hospital, Ballari allegedly due to starvation and negligence at the quarantine shelter.

5) Munna Sheikh, a 27-year-old auto driver, had moved to Mumbai from Bihar 15 years ago. He was living in Bandra’sShastri Nagar, a low-income neighbourhood with a few friends. When the lockdown began his source of income dried up. CJP came to his rescue with emergency rations, but his ordeal was far from over. Though he and his friends filled out forms to board Shramik trains, they did not receive any response. Thus, when they heard a rumour that a train was leaving for Bihar on May 19, they rushed to Bandra where police rained lathis on a large number of people desperate to go back home. Though Munna and his friends somehow managed to catch the train, it took them 62 hours to reach Katihar, Bihar! Read more about his ordeal here.

6) Locals in Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh resisted the entry of the 200 migrants who were brought back home after they were stranded at Tamil Nadu due to the lockdown on May 1, despite the authorities explaining that they have tested negative for Covid-19. The arguments led to clashes and police had to resort to lathi charge to disperse the angry villagers, the situation was resolved when the migrants were allowed to quarantine at a local school.

7) RajuSahni, a 40-year-old migrant worker who may have been cycling to his home state, was found unconscious by a passer-by on the roadside who informed the police. Sahni was taken to the hospital where he was declared ‘brought dead’. A police officer said, “He worked at a private firm in Ankleshwar and had cycled from Ankleshwar till here. But we cannot say for sure whether he was travelling back to his native town all the way to UP or to Vadodara from where trains to UP have commenced.”

8) 35-year-old Ganesh Yadav, a cook from Madhubani Bihar had been living in Mumbai for 20 years. The sudden lockdown forced him to live indoors in his one room dwelling in the scorching heat with his family of five until May. With police patrolling the streets he and his family used the paid toilet once or twice a day. With his source of income coming to a standstill and earnings dwindling, CJP volunteers came to his rescue and provided him much-needed ration along with information regarding ways of getting home. When he did eventually manage to board a train, the 18-hour journey stretched to 72 hours! The family was given no food by authorities and had to depend on the biscuits they had carried and food-packets distributed by some people, a day after the journey began. Read all about his ordeal here.

9) A clip was widely circulated on social media on May 27, of a toddler playing with a shroud covering his dead mother at a railway station in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. According to the woman’s family, she died due to the heat and lack of food and water. The woman had boarded the train with her sister and her family from Ahmedabad, Gujarat to Katihar, Bihar and collapsed shortly before reaching Muzaffarpur.

10) In a shocking incident 16 migrant workers were crushed to death in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad region by a freight train on May 8. The workers were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna, 157 kms apart, to board a ‘Shramik Special’ train to return to Madhya Pradesh. Exhausted, they slept on the railway tracks thinking they would be safe if the trains were not running when the mishap occurred between Madnapur and Karmad stations in Nanded division. While 14 of them died immediately, 2 of them succumbed to their injuries later. 

 

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India yet to ratify the Convention on Migrant workers

As the migrant numbers in India have tripled over the years, it is yet to accede to the international treaty  

22 Dec 2020

migrant

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is a United Nations multilateral treaty governing the protection of migrant workers and families that was signed on December 18, 1990 and entered into force on July 1, 2003. December 18 is also observed as International Migrants Day. India, which is a major migrant receiving country has yet not ratified the Convention.  

As of December 2019, the following 55 states have ratified the Convention: Albania, Argentina, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo-Brazzaville, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

The UN Network on Migration was established by the UN Secretary-General to ensure coordinated UN system-wide support to States in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). It comprises 38 entities of the UN system working collectively to support states in addressing their migration priorities, including as regards upholding the rights and wellbeing of migrants and their communities. 

United Nations Human Rights (Asia) has appealed to countries to join them in standing up for the human rights of migrants and building human rights-based narratives on migration. On December 18, the Asia Pacific Migration Report 2020 was released, assessing the implementation of the Global Compact for migration.

 

 

The report states that the migrant numbers from India almost tripled from 6.6 million to 17.5 million over the years. China, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines also saw significant growth. The main migration corridors for migrants from Asia-Pacific countries and territories have also increased. Corridors between Asia Pacific countries and countries beyond the region have grown significantly, with the India-Oman; Bangladesh-India and Pakistan-Saudi Arabia; India-United Arab Emirates; and China and India-United States corridors have been experiencing major increases.

The report also highlights that migration for education is becoming more important in the Asia Pacific region due to settled populations of international migrants in destination countries seeking higher levels of education, large and growing university-age populations, greater wealth and development, increased educational aspirations among young people. This is particularly evident in China and India, where large student populations and expanding aspirations of young people and their families have driven growth in migration for education in recent years.

Highly-skilled migrants, with education and skills perceived as valuable, follow different migration paths to low-skilled migrants, the report states. Compared to the restrictive policies for migrants in low-status occupations, destination countries actively aim to attract highly skilled migrants, generally classified as migrants with tertiary education and/or engaged in high level positions or ones requiring specific technical skills, such as medicine. India and China supplied the largest groups of highly-skilled migrants in 2019, 3.1 million and 2.0 million respectively.  

Migration of health workers is an important subset of highly-skilled migration. Health workers, including doctors, nurses and others, are in particular demand globally, due to human resource shortages in many countries. These workers provide crucial services in destination countries, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asia-Pacific countries are important contributors of migrant health workers. In the United Kingdom and the United States, the two largest countries of destination for migrant health workers, India- and Pakistan trained doctors made up the largest share of foreign-trained doctors in 2017. China, the Philippines, the Russian Federation and Sri Lanka also constituted major countries of training of migrant doctors working in these two countries.

The report further mentions that India has also housed a total of 1,95,000 refugees and newly displaced due to disasters, with the largest numbers of such displacements taking place in India (over 5.0 million). Internal displacement due to disasters included around 5,90,000 Indians and 4,70,000 were displaced due to conflict and violence.

The mixed migration movement in India includes the one of Rohingya refugees’ overland from Bangladesh to India, and across the Andaman Sea to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Around 18,000 Rohingya refugees had registered with UNHCR in India in January 2019. Trafficked persons from Bangladesh and India have been detected in South-East Asia.

As a result of the impact of COVID-19, over 2 million Indians have returned through the government repatriation programme, "Vande Bharath Mission". Since many returning migrant workers have lost their jobs, the Government of India introduced the Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support to identify and record their skills profile. But this has not been a promising practice as lakhs remain unemployed and unequipped to navigate their way through such databases.

The report also mentions that in 2019, the exclusion of nearly 2 million people in the state of Assam from the National Register of Citizens, put them at risk of statelessness and indefinite detention. Citizens for Justice and Peace’s campaign that helps the excluded people to defend their citizenship before Foreign Tribunals, recently witnessed the institutional murder of one Gopesh Das who is the 109th person to die in connection with the citizenship crisis in Assam. His wife, Amala was declared a ‘foreigner’ and is lodged at the Kokrajhar detention camp.

Recently, 104-year-old Chandrahar Das died in Cachar district. He was a registered refugee who was declared foreigner only because the dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and heart condition afflicted man could not recollect the year in which he crossed over into India. The New Citizenship Amendment Law, 2019 that discriminates on the basis of religion is set to increase the plight of poor minorities who could be forced to migrate. Labelling, reductionism and categorising such groups is what the United Nations stands against and calls for unity.

The next step forward is to inform the first International Migration Review Forum by 2022 to further reiterated their commitment to joint advocacy on migration-related issues, with a view to highlighting how upholding the rights and wellbeing of migrants and their communities, and building on best practice in accordance with internationally agreed standards.

Related:

India fails to ratify International Convention on Enforced Disappearance that turns ten!

The institutional murder of Gopesh Das

India drops two ranks in the Human Development Index

India yet to ratify the Convention on Migrant workers

As the migrant numbers in India have tripled over the years, it is yet to accede to the international treaty  

migrant

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is a United Nations multilateral treaty governing the protection of migrant workers and families that was signed on December 18, 1990 and entered into force on July 1, 2003. December 18 is also observed as International Migrants Day. India, which is a major migrant receiving country has yet not ratified the Convention.  

As of December 2019, the following 55 states have ratified the Convention: Albania, Argentina, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo-Brazzaville, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

The UN Network on Migration was established by the UN Secretary-General to ensure coordinated UN system-wide support to States in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). It comprises 38 entities of the UN system working collectively to support states in addressing their migration priorities, including as regards upholding the rights and wellbeing of migrants and their communities. 

United Nations Human Rights (Asia) has appealed to countries to join them in standing up for the human rights of migrants and building human rights-based narratives on migration. On December 18, the Asia Pacific Migration Report 2020 was released, assessing the implementation of the Global Compact for migration.

 

 

The report states that the migrant numbers from India almost tripled from 6.6 million to 17.5 million over the years. China, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines also saw significant growth. The main migration corridors for migrants from Asia-Pacific countries and territories have also increased. Corridors between Asia Pacific countries and countries beyond the region have grown significantly, with the India-Oman; Bangladesh-India and Pakistan-Saudi Arabia; India-United Arab Emirates; and China and India-United States corridors have been experiencing major increases.

The report also highlights that migration for education is becoming more important in the Asia Pacific region due to settled populations of international migrants in destination countries seeking higher levels of education, large and growing university-age populations, greater wealth and development, increased educational aspirations among young people. This is particularly evident in China and India, where large student populations and expanding aspirations of young people and their families have driven growth in migration for education in recent years.

Highly-skilled migrants, with education and skills perceived as valuable, follow different migration paths to low-skilled migrants, the report states. Compared to the restrictive policies for migrants in low-status occupations, destination countries actively aim to attract highly skilled migrants, generally classified as migrants with tertiary education and/or engaged in high level positions or ones requiring specific technical skills, such as medicine. India and China supplied the largest groups of highly-skilled migrants in 2019, 3.1 million and 2.0 million respectively.  

Migration of health workers is an important subset of highly-skilled migration. Health workers, including doctors, nurses and others, are in particular demand globally, due to human resource shortages in many countries. These workers provide crucial services in destination countries, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asia-Pacific countries are important contributors of migrant health workers. In the United Kingdom and the United States, the two largest countries of destination for migrant health workers, India- and Pakistan trained doctors made up the largest share of foreign-trained doctors in 2017. China, the Philippines, the Russian Federation and Sri Lanka also constituted major countries of training of migrant doctors working in these two countries.

The report further mentions that India has also housed a total of 1,95,000 refugees and newly displaced due to disasters, with the largest numbers of such displacements taking place in India (over 5.0 million). Internal displacement due to disasters included around 5,90,000 Indians and 4,70,000 were displaced due to conflict and violence.

The mixed migration movement in India includes the one of Rohingya refugees’ overland from Bangladesh to India, and across the Andaman Sea to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Around 18,000 Rohingya refugees had registered with UNHCR in India in January 2019. Trafficked persons from Bangladesh and India have been detected in South-East Asia.

As a result of the impact of COVID-19, over 2 million Indians have returned through the government repatriation programme, "Vande Bharath Mission". Since many returning migrant workers have lost their jobs, the Government of India introduced the Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support to identify and record their skills profile. But this has not been a promising practice as lakhs remain unemployed and unequipped to navigate their way through such databases.

The report also mentions that in 2019, the exclusion of nearly 2 million people in the state of Assam from the National Register of Citizens, put them at risk of statelessness and indefinite detention. Citizens for Justice and Peace’s campaign that helps the excluded people to defend their citizenship before Foreign Tribunals, recently witnessed the institutional murder of one Gopesh Das who is the 109th person to die in connection with the citizenship crisis in Assam. His wife, Amala was declared a ‘foreigner’ and is lodged at the Kokrajhar detention camp.

Recently, 104-year-old Chandrahar Das died in Cachar district. He was a registered refugee who was declared foreigner only because the dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and heart condition afflicted man could not recollect the year in which he crossed over into India. The New Citizenship Amendment Law, 2019 that discriminates on the basis of religion is set to increase the plight of poor minorities who could be forced to migrate. Labelling, reductionism and categorising such groups is what the United Nations stands against and calls for unity.

The next step forward is to inform the first International Migration Review Forum by 2022 to further reiterated their commitment to joint advocacy on migration-related issues, with a view to highlighting how upholding the rights and wellbeing of migrants and their communities, and building on best practice in accordance with internationally agreed standards.

Related:

India fails to ratify International Convention on Enforced Disappearance that turns ten!

The institutional murder of Gopesh Das

India drops two ranks in the Human Development Index

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41 Orgns call for workers unions to join farmers protest

Over 41 networks and organisations from the unorganised sector have demanded a withdrawal of the three anti-farmer laws and for larger workers unions to join the mass protest

22 Dec 2020

Farmers

Making a strong pitch for Worker-Farmer Unity (Mazdoor Kisan ekta zindabad!). over 41  representatives of workers organisations, stand in solidarity with the historic farmers' protest in India and extend our full support to their demands. They have also appealed to the government to accept the farmers’ demands. The call is also for an ‘All India Workers Sangharsh Coordination Group (AIWSCG)’ to join farmers' protest, in support of the demand to withdraw the three laws

In a statement issued today the signatories say,

“The unprecedented unity of the farmers, and the determination and militancy of the struggle has deeply impressed people across classes and sectors in the whole country. The attempts of a section of the ruling party and government to paint those who produce food for the nation, as terrorists and anti -nationals, has found no takers beyond their own camp followers. When such large numbers of farmers who are the food producers of the country, are on the streets, people in the country have to listen to them and their concerns, and support their just demands,

“On June 5, 2020, amidst the spread of COVID -19 pandemic, the Government of India hastily passed three ordinances namely Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. By September 2020, these ordinances were made into law without sufficient parliamentary discussion or any talks with the farmer’s representative and its potential repercussions on their lives. The laws and the entire farm policy of the government is an attempt to push big corporate control over all aspects of farming, especially to allow farm produce to be bought by big corporates at low prices. The farmers are demanding an unconditional roll back of all the three bills. The government prefers to indulge in a battle of wills with the farmers, rather than engaging with their demands. On the other hand they are waging a propaganda war against the farmers.

“The movement has stayed strong, and it has inspired and awakened consciousness across all segments of society. A large number of marginal farmers are also informal workers. The rural poor travel to far off destinations from their homes in search of work to support their families back home. We saw the sheer numbers involved when thousands of migrant workers took to the highways, walking hundreds of miles back to their homes during the COVID lockdown when they were left stranded without income and without shelter. Most of the workers in the informal sector are also victims of the deep agrarian crisis. Without access to jobs, or land and decent livelihood, the poor in the rural areas are forced to leave their homes in search of work and income. In the cities to which they go, many of them are barely earning a minimum wage, have no security of employment and are deprived of protection of labour legislations. 

“The government has recently passed four labour codes to ‘reform labour laws’. One of the key promises of these reforms was to include over 400 million informal workers who were ignored by all governments to date. Though informal workers were given hopes, they soon realized that they have cheated once again under the garb of illusionary reform, and again left to the mercy of the ‘market’.

“The farm laws bills lead to greater control on the farm and labour market by the big corporations. Such control over farmers and worker lives will have far reaching implications on commodity prices, financial structure, wages, public health and environment. Farmers and workers are both producers and consumers. Such control will provide dictating powers in the hands of few corporations, leaving the majority of farmers and workers in unimaginable distress.

“At this historical juncture we call upon all workers organisations, whether in the informal sector or formal sector, to join an ‘All India Workers Sangharsh Coordination Group (AIWSCG)’ to join farmers' protest, in support of the demand to withdraw the three laws.

”We, as part of the All India Workers Sangharsh Coordination Group (AIWSCG), unanimously resolve to join the farmer movement in solidarity, to demand the repeal the three anti- farmer laws.We further demand that informal workers in the urban and rural sector should have guaranteed minimum wages, social security and timely payment of wages.

Jai Mazoor, Jai Kisan! Mazdoor Kisan ekta zindabad! 

The Names of the signatory organisations and networks in alphabetical order : 

1.      Asangathit Kaamgaar Adhikar Manch (AKAM),

2.      Assam Mazdoor Union (AMU)

3.      Asangathit Shramik Samajik Suraksha Manch (ASSSM)

4.      Aravali Nirman Majdoor Suraksha Sangh (ANMSS)

5.      Andhra Pradesh Domestic Workers Federation (APDWF)

6.      Confederation of Free Trade Union (CFTUI)

7.      Campaign against Camp Coolie System (CACCS)

8.      Delhi Shramik Sangathan (DSS)

9.      Dihari Mazdoor Sangathan (DMS)

10.  GRAKOOS

11.  Gruhakarmikula Union Telangana State (GUTS)

12.  Hawkers Joint Action Committee (HJAC)

13.  Hamal Panchayat

14.  Indian Federation of App Based Transport Workers (IFAT)

15.  KOOGU

16.  Karkhana Shramik Suraksha Sangh (KSSS)

17.  Kamgaar Ekta Union (KEU)

18.  Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatta Labour Union (LJPBLU)

19.  Maharashtra Nirman Mazdoor Sangathan (MNMS)

20.  Maharashtra Rajya Hamal Mapadi Mahamandal (MRHMM)

21.  Maharashtra Kashtakari Sangharsh Mahasangh (MKSM)

22.  Majoor Adhikar Manch (MAM)

23.  Manrega Mazdoor Union (MMU)

24.  New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)

25.  National Centre for Labour (NCL)

26.  National Hawkers Federation (NHF)

27.  National Domestic Workers Movement (NDWM)

28.  National Campaign Committee on Central Legislation for Construction Workers (NCC-CCW)

29.  National Solidarity Committee of Brick Kiln Workers ( NSCBKW)

30.  National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour (NCCEBL)

31.  National Workers Movement (NWM)

32.  National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI)

33.  National Campaign Committee for Rural Workers (NCCRW)

34.  Patthar Gadhai Shramik Suraksha Sangh (PGSSS)

35.  Rajasthan Asangathit Mazdoor Union (RAMU)

36.  Rajasthan Mahila Kamgaar Union (RMKU)

37.  Sarvahara Jan Andolan (SJA)

38.  Shramik Adhikar Manch (SAM)

39.  Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI)

40.  Integrated Trade Union Federation (ITUF)

41.  United Nurses Association (UNA)

 Working Peoples’ Charter Network (WPC), December 21, 2020 

 https://workingpeoplescharter.in/media-statements/call-workers-organisations-solidarity-action-support-farmers-protest/ 

41 Orgns call for workers unions to join farmers protest

Over 41 networks and organisations from the unorganised sector have demanded a withdrawal of the three anti-farmer laws and for larger workers unions to join the mass protest

Farmers

Making a strong pitch for Worker-Farmer Unity (Mazdoor Kisan ekta zindabad!). over 41  representatives of workers organisations, stand in solidarity with the historic farmers' protest in India and extend our full support to their demands. They have also appealed to the government to accept the farmers’ demands. The call is also for an ‘All India Workers Sangharsh Coordination Group (AIWSCG)’ to join farmers' protest, in support of the demand to withdraw the three laws

In a statement issued today the signatories say,

“The unprecedented unity of the farmers, and the determination and militancy of the struggle has deeply impressed people across classes and sectors in the whole country. The attempts of a section of the ruling party and government to paint those who produce food for the nation, as terrorists and anti -nationals, has found no takers beyond their own camp followers. When such large numbers of farmers who are the food producers of the country, are on the streets, people in the country have to listen to them and their concerns, and support their just demands,

“On June 5, 2020, amidst the spread of COVID -19 pandemic, the Government of India hastily passed three ordinances namely Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. By September 2020, these ordinances were made into law without sufficient parliamentary discussion or any talks with the farmer’s representative and its potential repercussions on their lives. The laws and the entire farm policy of the government is an attempt to push big corporate control over all aspects of farming, especially to allow farm produce to be bought by big corporates at low prices. The farmers are demanding an unconditional roll back of all the three bills. The government prefers to indulge in a battle of wills with the farmers, rather than engaging with their demands. On the other hand they are waging a propaganda war against the farmers.

“The movement has stayed strong, and it has inspired and awakened consciousness across all segments of society. A large number of marginal farmers are also informal workers. The rural poor travel to far off destinations from their homes in search of work to support their families back home. We saw the sheer numbers involved when thousands of migrant workers took to the highways, walking hundreds of miles back to their homes during the COVID lockdown when they were left stranded without income and without shelter. Most of the workers in the informal sector are also victims of the deep agrarian crisis. Without access to jobs, or land and decent livelihood, the poor in the rural areas are forced to leave their homes in search of work and income. In the cities to which they go, many of them are barely earning a minimum wage, have no security of employment and are deprived of protection of labour legislations. 

“The government has recently passed four labour codes to ‘reform labour laws’. One of the key promises of these reforms was to include over 400 million informal workers who were ignored by all governments to date. Though informal workers were given hopes, they soon realized that they have cheated once again under the garb of illusionary reform, and again left to the mercy of the ‘market’.

“The farm laws bills lead to greater control on the farm and labour market by the big corporations. Such control over farmers and worker lives will have far reaching implications on commodity prices, financial structure, wages, public health and environment. Farmers and workers are both producers and consumers. Such control will provide dictating powers in the hands of few corporations, leaving the majority of farmers and workers in unimaginable distress.

“At this historical juncture we call upon all workers organisations, whether in the informal sector or formal sector, to join an ‘All India Workers Sangharsh Coordination Group (AIWSCG)’ to join farmers' protest, in support of the demand to withdraw the three laws.

”We, as part of the All India Workers Sangharsh Coordination Group (AIWSCG), unanimously resolve to join the farmer movement in solidarity, to demand the repeal the three anti- farmer laws.We further demand that informal workers in the urban and rural sector should have guaranteed minimum wages, social security and timely payment of wages.

Jai Mazoor, Jai Kisan! Mazdoor Kisan ekta zindabad! 

The Names of the signatory organisations and networks in alphabetical order : 

1.      Asangathit Kaamgaar Adhikar Manch (AKAM),

2.      Assam Mazdoor Union (AMU)

3.      Asangathit Shramik Samajik Suraksha Manch (ASSSM)

4.      Aravali Nirman Majdoor Suraksha Sangh (ANMSS)

5.      Andhra Pradesh Domestic Workers Federation (APDWF)

6.      Confederation of Free Trade Union (CFTUI)

7.      Campaign against Camp Coolie System (CACCS)

8.      Delhi Shramik Sangathan (DSS)

9.      Dihari Mazdoor Sangathan (DMS)

10.  GRAKOOS

11.  Gruhakarmikula Union Telangana State (GUTS)

12.  Hawkers Joint Action Committee (HJAC)

13.  Hamal Panchayat

14.  Indian Federation of App Based Transport Workers (IFAT)

15.  KOOGU

16.  Karkhana Shramik Suraksha Sangh (KSSS)

17.  Kamgaar Ekta Union (KEU)

18.  Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatta Labour Union (LJPBLU)

19.  Maharashtra Nirman Mazdoor Sangathan (MNMS)

20.  Maharashtra Rajya Hamal Mapadi Mahamandal (MRHMM)

21.  Maharashtra Kashtakari Sangharsh Mahasangh (MKSM)

22.  Majoor Adhikar Manch (MAM)

23.  Manrega Mazdoor Union (MMU)

24.  New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)

25.  National Centre for Labour (NCL)

26.  National Hawkers Federation (NHF)

27.  National Domestic Workers Movement (NDWM)

28.  National Campaign Committee on Central Legislation for Construction Workers (NCC-CCW)

29.  National Solidarity Committee of Brick Kiln Workers ( NSCBKW)

30.  National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour (NCCEBL)

31.  National Workers Movement (NWM)

32.  National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI)

33.  National Campaign Committee for Rural Workers (NCCRW)

34.  Patthar Gadhai Shramik Suraksha Sangh (PGSSS)

35.  Rajasthan Asangathit Mazdoor Union (RAMU)

36.  Rajasthan Mahila Kamgaar Union (RMKU)

37.  Sarvahara Jan Andolan (SJA)

38.  Shramik Adhikar Manch (SAM)

39.  Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI)

40.  Integrated Trade Union Federation (ITUF)

41.  United Nurses Association (UNA)

 Working Peoples’ Charter Network (WPC), December 21, 2020 

 https://workingpeoplescharter.in/media-statements/call-workers-organisations-solidarity-action-support-farmers-protest/ 

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Wistron Factory Vandalism: Karnataka Gov’t registers FIR against 7,000 employees

Karnataka State IT/ITes Employee Union, and other organisations have condemned the criminal charges pressed against the contract workers

21 Dec 2020

Wistron Factory Vandalism

The Karnataka Government has pressed criminal charges against 7,000 employees, including 5,000 contract workers of Wistron Private Limited over the destruction and violence that led to the company suffering a whopping loss of four hundred and thirty-seven crores on December 12.

The first registered IT union in Karnataka called Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union (KITU) has demanded the immediate withdrawal of criminal charges against the employees of the iPhone manufacturing plant, run by the Taiwan-based tech giant Wistron Corporation at Narasapura, 60 kilometres from Bengaluru in Kolar district.

A demonstration organised by Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) along with other progressive organisations like All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS), Student’s Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) was joined by KITU office bearers condemning the arrests and police repression on workers on Sunday, December 20.

According to the Financial Express, the Wistron administration admitted that some workers were not paid correctly, or on time at its Kolar iPhone manufacturing plant. “Since unfortunate events at our Narasapura facility we’ve found that some workers were not paid correctly, or on time. We deeply regret and apologize to all of our workers. We are removing the Vice President who oversees our business in India. We are also enhancing our processes and restructuring our teams to ensure these issues cannot happen again,” said Winstron in a statement.

A report released by All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) revealed the horrific conditions the factory workers were forced to work through including compulsory 12-hour shifts, delay and non-payment of wages, no grievance redressal mechanism for them and night shifts for women.

Despite being promised rupees twenty thousand, the report mentioned that they received substantially less wages even after having worked overtime on all days without leave. They have yet not received their wages for November. The vandalism of the factory was a result of months of pent-up frustration and angst over not having received their dues from the HR and other Wistron officials. Around 150 workers have already been arrested. The entire report may be read here.

KITU has been vocal about the approach of the Karnataka Government as they have turned a blind eye to the litany of labour law violations by the company and supported the police action of filing criminal cases against several contract workers. It is appalling that despite the Apple Corporation having accepted the shortcomings of their branch office, the workers are all set to be prosecuted.  

Related:

Wistron Factory violence: AICCTU blames State and management for exploitation

Wistron Factory Vandalism: Karnataka Gov’t registers FIR against 7,000 employees

Karnataka State IT/ITes Employee Union, and other organisations have condemned the criminal charges pressed against the contract workers

Wistron Factory Vandalism

The Karnataka Government has pressed criminal charges against 7,000 employees, including 5,000 contract workers of Wistron Private Limited over the destruction and violence that led to the company suffering a whopping loss of four hundred and thirty-seven crores on December 12.

The first registered IT union in Karnataka called Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union (KITU) has demanded the immediate withdrawal of criminal charges against the employees of the iPhone manufacturing plant, run by the Taiwan-based tech giant Wistron Corporation at Narasapura, 60 kilometres from Bengaluru in Kolar district.

A demonstration organised by Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) along with other progressive organisations like All Indian Kisan Sabha (AIKS), Student’s Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) was joined by KITU office bearers condemning the arrests and police repression on workers on Sunday, December 20.

According to the Financial Express, the Wistron administration admitted that some workers were not paid correctly, or on time at its Kolar iPhone manufacturing plant. “Since unfortunate events at our Narasapura facility we’ve found that some workers were not paid correctly, or on time. We deeply regret and apologize to all of our workers. We are removing the Vice President who oversees our business in India. We are also enhancing our processes and restructuring our teams to ensure these issues cannot happen again,” said Winstron in a statement.

A report released by All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) revealed the horrific conditions the factory workers were forced to work through including compulsory 12-hour shifts, delay and non-payment of wages, no grievance redressal mechanism for them and night shifts for women.

Despite being promised rupees twenty thousand, the report mentioned that they received substantially less wages even after having worked overtime on all days without leave. They have yet not received their wages for November. The vandalism of the factory was a result of months of pent-up frustration and angst over not having received their dues from the HR and other Wistron officials. Around 150 workers have already been arrested. The entire report may be read here.

KITU has been vocal about the approach of the Karnataka Government as they have turned a blind eye to the litany of labour law violations by the company and supported the police action of filing criminal cases against several contract workers. It is appalling that despite the Apple Corporation having accepted the shortcomings of their branch office, the workers are all set to be prosecuted.  

Related:

Wistron Factory violence: AICCTU blames State and management for exploitation

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Wistron Factory violence: AICCTU blames State and management for exploitation

Compulsory 12-hour shifts, delay and non-payment of wages, no grievance redressal mechanism, night shifts for women are just some instances that pushed helpless workers to a point of desperation

18 Dec 2020

Image Courtesy:enca.com

The All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) has submitted a report to the Chief Minister and Labour Minister of Karnataka over the labour law violations by Wistron Narasapura Industrial Estate, suggesting measures to be taken by the state to ensure industrial peace.

The report also indicts the factory management for terrible working conditions elucidating the plight of the workers for the past few months. On December 12, thousands of workers protested at Wistron factory raising several demands, which ended in properties of the factory being destroyed and police action against the workers. Wistron, a multinational corporation from Taiwan, has its establishment at Narasapura Industrial Estate, Karnataka where iPhones are assembled for Apple Inc.

When AICCTU visited the factory site on December 14, they stated that the entire area was inaccessible to the public and the police refused to allow anyone near the factory. It states that the workers, especially those from the nearby villages in Kolar district are from extremely poor backgrounds and a large number of them belong to the Dalit community. During appointment, they were informed that they would receive wages of rupees twenty-two thousand per month including overtime wages.

But the working conditions have been rather horrific. Workers in the factory that operated in 2 shifts from 6 AM to 6 PM; and 6PM to 6AM), were compelled to do 12- hour shifts every day/night and could not opt for the shift they’d like. Women were made to work the night shift and for every four days of work, the workers were provided two days off. There was no grievance redressal mechanism for workers, who got up at 4 AM everyday for a 6AM shift and never reached home before 8PM.

Despite being promised rupees twenty thousand, the report mentions that they received substantially less wages even after having worked overtime on all days without leave. They have not received their wages for November. The vandalism of the factory was a result of months of pent-up frustration and angst over not having received their dues from the HR and other Wistron officials.

The report has requested the police to investigate and inquire into a particularly disturbing video in the public domain that shows workers being made to lie down on the ground on the stomachs and being beaten by the police. Reportedly 150 workers have been arrested but no the family members have not been provided with any details.

“The response of the State Government has been one of outright condemnation of the destruction of property and little sympathy for the plight of the workers. The events of December 12, 2020 are an act of desperation on the part of the workers, who are exploited and unorganised, with no avenue of grievance redressal”, the report states.  

Violations

Section 5 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 mandates that the wages of every worker employed shall be paid before the expiry of the 10th of every month in case of industrial establishments with over 1,000 workers but the Wistron factory workers have not been paid on time. Minimum wages, which is mandatory under the Minimum Wages Act and extra wages or overtime (more than 9 hours a day) under the Factories Act (section 59) are some labour protections that were not offered to the poor workers. This essentially constitutes forced labour which is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court in People’s Union for Democratic vs Union Of India & Others (AIR 1982 SC 1473), has held that: “Where a person provides labour or services to another for remuneration which is less than the minimum wage, the labour or service provided by him clearly falls within the scope and ambit of the words “forced labour” under Article 23. Such a person would be entitled to come to the court for enforcement of his fundamental right under Article 23 by asking the court to direct payment of the minimum wage to him so that the labour or service provided by him ceases to be ‘forced labour’ and the breach of Article 23 is remedied.”

Section 51 of the Factories Act, 1948 provides that performance of overtime work cannot be made compulsory but the workers were forced into 12-hour work shifts. Rule 23 of the Karnataka Minimum Wages Rules, 1958 and Rules 7 and 9 of the Karnataka Payment of Wages Rules, 1963 mandate that work hours, wage periods, rate of wage and date of payment of wages for two months in advance should be displayed. However, neither were such details put up, nor did the State take steps to inspect the said factory, thus leaving the workers completely in the lurch.

The Industrial Dispute Act (section 43) provides for a Works Committee to promote measures for securing and preserving amity and good relations between the employer and workmen. Further, Section 9C mandates that every industrial establishment employing 20 or more workmen shall have one or more Grievance Redressal Committee, consisting of equal number of members from the employer and the workmen, for the resolution of disputes. But the workers have been deprived of that too.

Above all, the management compulsorily engaged women to work in night shifts for 12 hours without complying with proper transportation facility from residence accompanied by security guards in vehicles with CCTV cameras, hygienic working conditions, medical facilities, sufficient rest rooms, canteens, etc.

Suggestions

AICCTU has informed the Government that an establishment employing more than 10,000 workers that does not have a workers Union is alarming. The presence of a union helps in strict compliance with laws and harmony between the employers and employees. The right to organize and collectivize is protected under Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution and in order to ensure that it is given complete meaning, it is necessary that the Labour Department take necessary steps to inform workers of these rights which have certainly not been implemented yet.

Section 9 of the Factories Act empowers the inspectors to inspect any factory within his jurisdiction. Similarly, section 14 of the Payment of Wages Act and Section 19 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 lays down the same powers, putting a positive obligation and duty on the Labour department to ensure regular monitoring. In the given situation, they have been advised to immediately inquire and take necessary actions.

It is also very apparent that Wistron has seriously violated the statutory codes and laws set out and hence a thorough investigation into their unfair labour practices must be looked at.

The Union has appealed to the Karnataka Government to contextualise the plight of the arrested workers in light of them being engaged in extremely exploitative sweat-shop like working conditions in gross violation of labour laws including the most basic right to earn wages of workers who are already poor. They have asked for the release of the detained workers and ensure that their families are informed as mandated under Article 22 of the Constitution.

The entire report may be read here: 

Related:

Labour laws and rights in peril in India?
Dilution of labour rights & protection condemnable: Trade Unions

Wistron Factory violence: AICCTU blames State and management for exploitation

Compulsory 12-hour shifts, delay and non-payment of wages, no grievance redressal mechanism, night shifts for women are just some instances that pushed helpless workers to a point of desperation

Image Courtesy:enca.com

The All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) has submitted a report to the Chief Minister and Labour Minister of Karnataka over the labour law violations by Wistron Narasapura Industrial Estate, suggesting measures to be taken by the state to ensure industrial peace.

The report also indicts the factory management for terrible working conditions elucidating the plight of the workers for the past few months. On December 12, thousands of workers protested at Wistron factory raising several demands, which ended in properties of the factory being destroyed and police action against the workers. Wistron, a multinational corporation from Taiwan, has its establishment at Narasapura Industrial Estate, Karnataka where iPhones are assembled for Apple Inc.

When AICCTU visited the factory site on December 14, they stated that the entire area was inaccessible to the public and the police refused to allow anyone near the factory. It states that the workers, especially those from the nearby villages in Kolar district are from extremely poor backgrounds and a large number of them belong to the Dalit community. During appointment, they were informed that they would receive wages of rupees twenty-two thousand per month including overtime wages.

But the working conditions have been rather horrific. Workers in the factory that operated in 2 shifts from 6 AM to 6 PM; and 6PM to 6AM), were compelled to do 12- hour shifts every day/night and could not opt for the shift they’d like. Women were made to work the night shift and for every four days of work, the workers were provided two days off. There was no grievance redressal mechanism for workers, who got up at 4 AM everyday for a 6AM shift and never reached home before 8PM.

Despite being promised rupees twenty thousand, the report mentions that they received substantially less wages even after having worked overtime on all days without leave. They have not received their wages for November. The vandalism of the factory was a result of months of pent-up frustration and angst over not having received their dues from the HR and other Wistron officials.

The report has requested the police to investigate and inquire into a particularly disturbing video in the public domain that shows workers being made to lie down on the ground on the stomachs and being beaten by the police. Reportedly 150 workers have been arrested but no the family members have not been provided with any details.

“The response of the State Government has been one of outright condemnation of the destruction of property and little sympathy for the plight of the workers. The events of December 12, 2020 are an act of desperation on the part of the workers, who are exploited and unorganised, with no avenue of grievance redressal”, the report states.  

Violations

Section 5 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 mandates that the wages of every worker employed shall be paid before the expiry of the 10th of every month in case of industrial establishments with over 1,000 workers but the Wistron factory workers have not been paid on time. Minimum wages, which is mandatory under the Minimum Wages Act and extra wages or overtime (more than 9 hours a day) under the Factories Act (section 59) are some labour protections that were not offered to the poor workers. This essentially constitutes forced labour which is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court in People’s Union for Democratic vs Union Of India & Others (AIR 1982 SC 1473), has held that: “Where a person provides labour or services to another for remuneration which is less than the minimum wage, the labour or service provided by him clearly falls within the scope and ambit of the words “forced labour” under Article 23. Such a person would be entitled to come to the court for enforcement of his fundamental right under Article 23 by asking the court to direct payment of the minimum wage to him so that the labour or service provided by him ceases to be ‘forced labour’ and the breach of Article 23 is remedied.”

Section 51 of the Factories Act, 1948 provides that performance of overtime work cannot be made compulsory but the workers were forced into 12-hour work shifts. Rule 23 of the Karnataka Minimum Wages Rules, 1958 and Rules 7 and 9 of the Karnataka Payment of Wages Rules, 1963 mandate that work hours, wage periods, rate of wage and date of payment of wages for two months in advance should be displayed. However, neither were such details put up, nor did the State take steps to inspect the said factory, thus leaving the workers completely in the lurch.

The Industrial Dispute Act (section 43) provides for a Works Committee to promote measures for securing and preserving amity and good relations between the employer and workmen. Further, Section 9C mandates that every industrial establishment employing 20 or more workmen shall have one or more Grievance Redressal Committee, consisting of equal number of members from the employer and the workmen, for the resolution of disputes. But the workers have been deprived of that too.

Above all, the management compulsorily engaged women to work in night shifts for 12 hours without complying with proper transportation facility from residence accompanied by security guards in vehicles with CCTV cameras, hygienic working conditions, medical facilities, sufficient rest rooms, canteens, etc.

Suggestions

AICCTU has informed the Government that an establishment employing more than 10,000 workers that does not have a workers Union is alarming. The presence of a union helps in strict compliance with laws and harmony between the employers and employees. The right to organize and collectivize is protected under Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution and in order to ensure that it is given complete meaning, it is necessary that the Labour Department take necessary steps to inform workers of these rights which have certainly not been implemented yet.

Section 9 of the Factories Act empowers the inspectors to inspect any factory within his jurisdiction. Similarly, section 14 of the Payment of Wages Act and Section 19 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 lays down the same powers, putting a positive obligation and duty on the Labour department to ensure regular monitoring. In the given situation, they have been advised to immediately inquire and take necessary actions.

It is also very apparent that Wistron has seriously violated the statutory codes and laws set out and hence a thorough investigation into their unfair labour practices must be looked at.

The Union has appealed to the Karnataka Government to contextualise the plight of the arrested workers in light of them being engaged in extremely exploitative sweat-shop like working conditions in gross violation of labour laws including the most basic right to earn wages of workers who are already poor. They have asked for the release of the detained workers and ensure that their families are informed as mandated under Article 22 of the Constitution.

The entire report may be read here: 

Related:

Labour laws and rights in peril in India?
Dilution of labour rights & protection condemnable: Trade Unions

Related Articles


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Jharkhand: Unpaid for 9 months, Pakur forest labourers move HC

The PIL has been filed by a forest range officer who wrote several letters to authorities demanding the workers’ salaries

17 Dec 2020

Image Courtesy:thewire.in

The forest labourers of Pakur, Jharkhand who are staging a protest demanding their pending salaries of 9 months have now approached the High Court. The court is yet to issue notice in the case.

About 250 labourers hired to ensure the upkeep of one range of Pakur Forest Division have been unpaid for the past 9 months, and despite sending repeated letters to concerned authorities there was no redress in sight.

The petition has been filed by Anil Kumar Singh, a forest range officer who acted as a good samaritan throughout this phase and was helping the labourers by paying them small sums from his pocket, albeit that only brought them temporary relief. He said the money owed to 250 labourers since the Covid-19 pandemic broke amounts to Rs 10 lakh.

Singh’s PIL blamed the wage delay on the ‘non availability’ of the divisional forest officer. It said Singh is being ‘compelled to give advances’ to labourers which is causing ‘great hardships’ to both the workers and himself. “That it has become difficult to remain in headquarters and keep the ‘mobile phone on’ due to lack of funds. The petitioner in person is not in a position to even fill the fuel in government vehicle and maintain the same to help combat the illegal transit of the timber, incidence of which is increasing day by day. That this attitude of the officers…is creating a bad image of the department,” reported Indian Express.

The plea states that the issue has not been resolved due to the highly insensitive attitude of the authorities as several letters written by Singh himself have gone unheard. The plea also raises the issue of having inadequate frontline forest staff consisting of only 7 forest guards and 2 foresters.

The workers said they live hand-to-mouth and have little option but to survive on loans. Ram Hansda, who also cultivates paddy in his fields, said he lives off whatever he earns by selling his produce in the market. “I buy vegetables with the money I make from my produce. We are desperately short of cash. It would help if the forest department releases Rs 65,000 in unpaid wages. I hope the high court will resolve our problem at the earliest,” Hansda told IE.

The IE report states that the labourers, on December 15, locked the Pakur Forest Division office, demanding their dues as they don’t have enough money to even feed their children.

Pakur district is populated largely by rural Paharia and Santhal people.

Related:

AIUFWP writes to the President of India over Farmer protests
MP Adivasi farmers send memorandum to Prime Minister decrying Centre’s farm laws
Tribal leader V.K Geetha leads struggle against destructive development

Jharkhand: Unpaid for 9 months, Pakur forest labourers move HC

The PIL has been filed by a forest range officer who wrote several letters to authorities demanding the workers’ salaries

Image Courtesy:thewire.in

The forest labourers of Pakur, Jharkhand who are staging a protest demanding their pending salaries of 9 months have now approached the High Court. The court is yet to issue notice in the case.

About 250 labourers hired to ensure the upkeep of one range of Pakur Forest Division have been unpaid for the past 9 months, and despite sending repeated letters to concerned authorities there was no redress in sight.

The petition has been filed by Anil Kumar Singh, a forest range officer who acted as a good samaritan throughout this phase and was helping the labourers by paying them small sums from his pocket, albeit that only brought them temporary relief. He said the money owed to 250 labourers since the Covid-19 pandemic broke amounts to Rs 10 lakh.

Singh’s PIL blamed the wage delay on the ‘non availability’ of the divisional forest officer. It said Singh is being ‘compelled to give advances’ to labourers which is causing ‘great hardships’ to both the workers and himself. “That it has become difficult to remain in headquarters and keep the ‘mobile phone on’ due to lack of funds. The petitioner in person is not in a position to even fill the fuel in government vehicle and maintain the same to help combat the illegal transit of the timber, incidence of which is increasing day by day. That this attitude of the officers…is creating a bad image of the department,” reported Indian Express.

The plea states that the issue has not been resolved due to the highly insensitive attitude of the authorities as several letters written by Singh himself have gone unheard. The plea also raises the issue of having inadequate frontline forest staff consisting of only 7 forest guards and 2 foresters.

The workers said they live hand-to-mouth and have little option but to survive on loans. Ram Hansda, who also cultivates paddy in his fields, said he lives off whatever he earns by selling his produce in the market. “I buy vegetables with the money I make from my produce. We are desperately short of cash. It would help if the forest department releases Rs 65,000 in unpaid wages. I hope the high court will resolve our problem at the earliest,” Hansda told IE.

The IE report states that the labourers, on December 15, locked the Pakur Forest Division office, demanding their dues as they don’t have enough money to even feed their children.

Pakur district is populated largely by rural Paharia and Santhal people.

Related:

AIUFWP writes to the President of India over Farmer protests
MP Adivasi farmers send memorandum to Prime Minister decrying Centre’s farm laws
Tribal leader V.K Geetha leads struggle against destructive development

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Meghalaya sets stringent guidelines for migrant workers

Cabinet approves draft rules as per recently passed law to check influx of migrant labourers

10 Dec 2020

migrant workers

In September 2020, Meghalaya enacted the The Meghalaya Identification, Registration (Safety & Security) of Migrant Workers Act. On December 7, the state Cabinet approved the draft rules of the Meghalaya Identification, Registration (Safety & Security) of Migrant Workers Rule 2020 to prevent an unchecked influx of migrant workers in the state.

As per the new rules, migrant workers would be required to register themselves and obtain a registration card prior to engaging in any manner of work in the state. Any migrant worker or their employer found to be violating this rule will be fined. The Registering Officer is required to maintain a register with the Migrant worker’s local address, contact details, name and address of the owner of the establishment. The migrant worker’s Aadhaar or Election Photo Identity Card, permanent address and contact details of next kin would also be recorded.

Prestone Tynsong, Deputy Chief Minister in-charge Labour, told The Sentinel Assam, “The cabinet has approved the draft rules framed by the labour department. Once the rules are in place, the implementation for registration of labourers will immediately take off.”

The Act passed in September 2020, says, “Every Migrant Worker shall have to register himself/herself and obtain a separate Registration Card as issued under the provisions of this Act and rules made thereunder.” It adds, “It shall be the duty of every person, employing or engaging any Migrant Worker in any manner whatsoever to ensure the registration of such Migrant Worker failing which, the owner of any such establishment shall be liable to a fine which may extend to five thousand rupees.” Similarly, any migrant worker if found to be working in Meghalaya in violation of the law “shall be imposed with a fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.”

The entire Act may be viewed here:

 

Related:

Why is the government still ignoring migrants’ lives?

Gov't admits that over 1 crore migrant labourers returned home on foot!

Meghalaya sets stringent guidelines for migrant workers

Cabinet approves draft rules as per recently passed law to check influx of migrant labourers

migrant workers

In September 2020, Meghalaya enacted the The Meghalaya Identification, Registration (Safety & Security) of Migrant Workers Act. On December 7, the state Cabinet approved the draft rules of the Meghalaya Identification, Registration (Safety & Security) of Migrant Workers Rule 2020 to prevent an unchecked influx of migrant workers in the state.

As per the new rules, migrant workers would be required to register themselves and obtain a registration card prior to engaging in any manner of work in the state. Any migrant worker or their employer found to be violating this rule will be fined. The Registering Officer is required to maintain a register with the Migrant worker’s local address, contact details, name and address of the owner of the establishment. The migrant worker’s Aadhaar or Election Photo Identity Card, permanent address and contact details of next kin would also be recorded.

Prestone Tynsong, Deputy Chief Minister in-charge Labour, told The Sentinel Assam, “The cabinet has approved the draft rules framed by the labour department. Once the rules are in place, the implementation for registration of labourers will immediately take off.”

The Act passed in September 2020, says, “Every Migrant Worker shall have to register himself/herself and obtain a separate Registration Card as issued under the provisions of this Act and rules made thereunder.” It adds, “It shall be the duty of every person, employing or engaging any Migrant Worker in any manner whatsoever to ensure the registration of such Migrant Worker failing which, the owner of any such establishment shall be liable to a fine which may extend to five thousand rupees.” Similarly, any migrant worker if found to be working in Meghalaya in violation of the law “shall be imposed with a fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.”

The entire Act may be viewed here:

 

Related:

Why is the government still ignoring migrants’ lives?

Gov't admits that over 1 crore migrant labourers returned home on foot!

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Manual Scavengers Act: Karnataka HC issues directions over implementation

The court noted that manual scavenging is most inhuman and that it infringes the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21

10 Dec 2020

Manual Scavengers Act
Image courtesy: The Indian Express
 

The Karnataka High Court (Bengaluru Bench) has issued several directions to the State Government over proper implementation of the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty, while hearing a petition filed by All India Council of Trade Unions (AICTU) and High Court Legal Services Committee has directed the State Government:

·To place on record the details about the number of FIR’s registered for the offences punishable under the Manual Scavengers Act and all other details of the cases

·To call for the data from all the Districts for ascertaining whether the District Level Survey Committees have conducted surveys of manual scavengers and whether the Committees have published the final list of Manual Scavengers of the respective Districts

·To place on record comprehensive data about the survey of insanitary latrines throughout the State and the details about the conversion/demolition of insanitary latrines

·To place on record the details relating to final publication of the District-wise final lists and State level final list of Manual Scavengers

·To call for reports from the authorities/authorized officers specified for implementing the provisions of the Act and to ensure that the directions are issued to authorized officers/authorities to comply with the requirements of Section 19 (duty of District Magistrates and authorised officers)

·To place on record the details about number of meetings held at the Districts, Sub-Divisional and the State level Vigilance Committees

·To issue directions to all the Local Authorities to implement the provisions of the Manual Scavengers Act and the Rules by specifically referring to the obligations and duties under various provisions

·To direct all the Local Authorities to comply with the obligations under subsections (2) and (3) of Section 4 and to immediately ascertain the requirement of number of sanitary community latrines within their respective jurisdictions and thereafter, make construction of such latrines

·To immediately initiate awareness campaigns on a large scale for elimination of the practice of open defecation and ensure that all Local Authorities comply and also take help of NGOs and the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority to conduct the campaigns in rural areas.

·To place on record the steps taken for rehabilitation of manual scavengers as provided in Section 13 by stating whether there are any Schemes of Central and State Government for rehabilitation of the manual scavengers

The Union of India was also directed to place on record the copies of the notifications, (if any), issued in exercise of the powers under explanation (b) to clause (g) of Section 2 of the Manual Scavengers Act.

Explanation (b) provides that if a person is engaged to clean excreta with the help of such devices, using such protective gear, as the Central Government may notify in this behalf, he would not fall under the category of a manual scavenger.

The High Court has directed the Karnataka State Government to file compliance affidavits on or before January 30, 2021.

Matter before the Court

Two writ petitions were filed by AICTU and High Court Legal Services Committee praying to discontinue the practice of allowing/forcing sanitary workers to physically enter manholes, sewer lines, septic tanks etc and to direct the State and Union Government to give a report on the action taken by them for removal of the inhuman practice and the implementation of the provisions of the Act.

The petitions also concerned itself with the incident of three manual scavengers who died due to suffocation, while cleaning a pit in an apartment complex at Bengaluru. A writ of mandamus has been sought in the said petition for implementation of the directions issued by the Apex Court in the case of Safai Karamchari Andolan and others vs Union of India and other (2014) 11 SCC 224.

This was one of the landmark decisions of the Supreme Court after the 2013 Act which laid down further guidelines on rehabilitation of manual scavengers and compensation payment of rupees 10 lakh to the family of the deceased. The case was filed by Safai Karamchari Andolan, an NGO working for the rights of manual scavengers and to bring an end to this practice. It was filed against the flouting of the provisions of the 1993 Act as well as to recognize the practice of manual scavenging as violative of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Karnataka HC’s observations

After hearing the submissions of both parties, the court opined that continuous monitoring will be necessary and the power of issuing continuing mandamus will have to be exercised in this matter.

The Bench said, “We have found that there is hardly any implementation of the provisions of the Manual Scavengers Act and the Rules in the State of Karnataka.” Further, they said, “There can be no dispute that our Constitutional philosophy does not permit any form of manual scavenging. Right of a citizen to live with dignity is an integral part of the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The preamble of the Constitution shows that the Constitution seeks to protect the dignity of an individual. There can be no dispute that manual scavenging is most inhuman and it infringes the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21.”

The Division Bench also observed that, “If any citizen is forced to do manual scavenging, it will be a gross violation of his fundamental right conferred under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Under Article 47 of the Constitution of India which is a part of Directive Principles of the State Policy, the State is under an obligation to endeavour to improve the standard of living of its people.”

The court also highlighted the major difference between the old act (Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines [Prohibition] Act, 1993) and the Act of 2013. It said that the definition of ‘manual scavenger’ in the Manual Scavengers Act is much wider than the definition of manual scavenger defined under clause (j) of Section 2 of the old Act.

“Under sub-section (1) of Section 5 of the Manual Scavengers Act, there is a complete prohibition on manual scavenging. Under Section 3 of the old Act, the State Government was required to issue a notification for prohibiting engagement or employment of any person for manual scavenging,” said the Court, adding, “Thus, under the old Act, the prohibition was not automatic. The provisions of the new Act are more comprehensive.”

The court further looked at the Preamble of the Manual Scavengers Act and added emphasis on points, “And Whereas the right to live with dignity is also implicit in the fundamental rights guaranteed in part III of the Constitution. And whereas it is necessary to correct the historical injustice and indignity suffered by the manual scavengers, and to rehabilitate them to a life of dignity.”

Finally, the court issued the above-mentioned directions and posted the matter for February 2, 2021.

The order dated December 9, 2020 may be read here:

Related:

Death by excreta: The cursed lives of India's manual scavengers

Govt aims to eliminate manual scavenging by August 2021

Sanitation & Justice: Classify Sanitation Workers as Health Workers

Manual Scavengers Act: Karnataka HC issues directions over implementation

The court noted that manual scavenging is most inhuman and that it infringes the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21

Manual Scavengers Act
Image courtesy: The Indian Express
 

The Karnataka High Court (Bengaluru Bench) has issued several directions to the State Government over proper implementation of the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty, while hearing a petition filed by All India Council of Trade Unions (AICTU) and High Court Legal Services Committee has directed the State Government:

·To place on record the details about the number of FIR’s registered for the offences punishable under the Manual Scavengers Act and all other details of the cases

·To call for the data from all the Districts for ascertaining whether the District Level Survey Committees have conducted surveys of manual scavengers and whether the Committees have published the final list of Manual Scavengers of the respective Districts

·To place on record comprehensive data about the survey of insanitary latrines throughout the State and the details about the conversion/demolition of insanitary latrines

·To place on record the details relating to final publication of the District-wise final lists and State level final list of Manual Scavengers

·To call for reports from the authorities/authorized officers specified for implementing the provisions of the Act and to ensure that the directions are issued to authorized officers/authorities to comply with the requirements of Section 19 (duty of District Magistrates and authorised officers)

·To place on record the details about number of meetings held at the Districts, Sub-Divisional and the State level Vigilance Committees

·To issue directions to all the Local Authorities to implement the provisions of the Manual Scavengers Act and the Rules by specifically referring to the obligations and duties under various provisions

·To direct all the Local Authorities to comply with the obligations under subsections (2) and (3) of Section 4 and to immediately ascertain the requirement of number of sanitary community latrines within their respective jurisdictions and thereafter, make construction of such latrines

·To immediately initiate awareness campaigns on a large scale for elimination of the practice of open defecation and ensure that all Local Authorities comply and also take help of NGOs and the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority to conduct the campaigns in rural areas.

·To place on record the steps taken for rehabilitation of manual scavengers as provided in Section 13 by stating whether there are any Schemes of Central and State Government for rehabilitation of the manual scavengers

The Union of India was also directed to place on record the copies of the notifications, (if any), issued in exercise of the powers under explanation (b) to clause (g) of Section 2 of the Manual Scavengers Act.

Explanation (b) provides that if a person is engaged to clean excreta with the help of such devices, using such protective gear, as the Central Government may notify in this behalf, he would not fall under the category of a manual scavenger.

The High Court has directed the Karnataka State Government to file compliance affidavits on or before January 30, 2021.

Matter before the Court

Two writ petitions were filed by AICTU and High Court Legal Services Committee praying to discontinue the practice of allowing/forcing sanitary workers to physically enter manholes, sewer lines, septic tanks etc and to direct the State and Union Government to give a report on the action taken by them for removal of the inhuman practice and the implementation of the provisions of the Act.

The petitions also concerned itself with the incident of three manual scavengers who died due to suffocation, while cleaning a pit in an apartment complex at Bengaluru. A writ of mandamus has been sought in the said petition for implementation of the directions issued by the Apex Court in the case of Safai Karamchari Andolan and others vs Union of India and other (2014) 11 SCC 224.

This was one of the landmark decisions of the Supreme Court after the 2013 Act which laid down further guidelines on rehabilitation of manual scavengers and compensation payment of rupees 10 lakh to the family of the deceased. The case was filed by Safai Karamchari Andolan, an NGO working for the rights of manual scavengers and to bring an end to this practice. It was filed against the flouting of the provisions of the 1993 Act as well as to recognize the practice of manual scavenging as violative of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Karnataka HC’s observations

After hearing the submissions of both parties, the court opined that continuous monitoring will be necessary and the power of issuing continuing mandamus will have to be exercised in this matter.

The Bench said, “We have found that there is hardly any implementation of the provisions of the Manual Scavengers Act and the Rules in the State of Karnataka.” Further, they said, “There can be no dispute that our Constitutional philosophy does not permit any form of manual scavenging. Right of a citizen to live with dignity is an integral part of the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The preamble of the Constitution shows that the Constitution seeks to protect the dignity of an individual. There can be no dispute that manual scavenging is most inhuman and it infringes the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21.”

The Division Bench also observed that, “If any citizen is forced to do manual scavenging, it will be a gross violation of his fundamental right conferred under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Under Article 47 of the Constitution of India which is a part of Directive Principles of the State Policy, the State is under an obligation to endeavour to improve the standard of living of its people.”

The court also highlighted the major difference between the old act (Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines [Prohibition] Act, 1993) and the Act of 2013. It said that the definition of ‘manual scavenger’ in the Manual Scavengers Act is much wider than the definition of manual scavenger defined under clause (j) of Section 2 of the old Act.

“Under sub-section (1) of Section 5 of the Manual Scavengers Act, there is a complete prohibition on manual scavenging. Under Section 3 of the old Act, the State Government was required to issue a notification for prohibiting engagement or employment of any person for manual scavenging,” said the Court, adding, “Thus, under the old Act, the prohibition was not automatic. The provisions of the new Act are more comprehensive.”

The court further looked at the Preamble of the Manual Scavengers Act and added emphasis on points, “And Whereas the right to live with dignity is also implicit in the fundamental rights guaranteed in part III of the Constitution. And whereas it is necessary to correct the historical injustice and indignity suffered by the manual scavengers, and to rehabilitate them to a life of dignity.”

Finally, the court issued the above-mentioned directions and posted the matter for February 2, 2021.

The order dated December 9, 2020 may be read here:

Related:

Death by excreta: The cursed lives of India's manual scavengers

Govt aims to eliminate manual scavenging by August 2021

Sanitation & Justice: Classify Sanitation Workers as Health Workers

Related Articles


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