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No contractorisation of work of permanent/perennial nature!

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No contractorisation of work of permanent/perennial nature!
Same wages and benefits for Same Work

Under the neoliberal regime, the number of contract workers has been increasing not only in the private sector but also in the public sector and in the central and state government departments. This has reached alarming proportions now.

Today, in most of the establishments in the private sector including in the Multi National Corporations (MNCs), the number of workers with the so called ‘non formal employment relations’ – contract workers, casual workers, temporary, part time workers, apprentices, trainees, fixed term employees etc – far outnumbers the permanent workers. The government is also adopting the same approach by handing over jobs of permanent and perennial nature to contract workers or outsourced workers. Majority of the small number of around 15.6% salaried employees today are on contract. It is found that on an average, 50% of the total workforce in the public sector units and over 70% in the private sector are contract workers.

Reducing the number of permanent workers and getting the same job done by contract workers and other such workers under the so called ‘precarious employment relations’ is one of the strategies adopted by the employers to increase their profits. In most of the establishments, the contract workers are paid only a fraction of the wages paid to the permanent workers even when they do the same job. For example, Hyundai Motors India Ltd in Chennai employs 2300 permanent workers and 8000 workers under ‘non formal’ employment relations including apprentices, apprentice trainees, contract workers etc who are all directly involved in the production process. While the permanent workers are paid a monthly wage of around Rs 35000, the contract workers, apprentices etc are paid between Rs 6000 and Rs 12000 a month.

These vast sections of contract workers, barring rare exceptions, are deprived of almost all the statutory benefits including minimum wages, social security benefits etc. Their employment is always under threat by the respective contractor and the principal employer. The situation continues to be the same despite the provisions in the Contract Labour (R&A) Act and the Supreme Court judgment that same wages and benefits should be paid to workers doing the same work. Contractorisation also denies the statutory right to reservation of the SC/ST workers. This is nothing but a creeping form of privatisation.

This has given rise to a grave situation in most of the workplaces where, under the same roof two sets of workers doing the same job but with vastly different conditions of employment are employed. Existence of such a situation for a long period poses a threat to the service conditions of the regular workers also. The wages and working conditions of permanent workers also come under attack. This is already happening in many establishments in the private sector. Today many employers place their counter demands and insist that they should be discussed first, whenever the unions give their charter of demands. Employers’ demands include reduction of wages, other benefits, increase in workload on the pretext of productivity targets etc.

Because of such practices, despite increase in profits for the employers, the average level of wages has been going down.

The CITU has long been struggling against such exploitation of the workers through contractorisation. It has directed all its unions of permanent workers to take initiative to organise the contract workers employed in their establishments; to include the demands of contract workers in their charter of demands. This is being done by several unions of permanent employees affiliated to CITU in various sectors. In several establishments contract workers are getting organised in trade unions braving severe repression and retrenchment. There are instances of contract workers’ unions fighting on their demands including going on strike and achieving successes. Thousands have succeeded in raising their wages and in getting regularised. However compared to the total and increasing numbers of contract workers, much more efforts are required to organise them.

The 43rd Indian Labour Conference held in November 2010 recommended appropriate amendment to the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act 1970 to ensure same wages and benefits to the contract workers for doing the same and similar nature of jobs as the regular workers. But till now the government has not taken concrete measures to implement it. This clearly indicates the unflinching dedication of the government to the employers’ interests.

The present BJP led government has gone several steps ahead in amending the labour laws in favour of the employers. It has amended labour laws exempting the implementation of Contract Labour (R&A) Act and promoting employment of workers under such precarious working conditions.

We demand that there should be no contractorisation of permanent and perennial nature of work. We demand that contract workers doing the same or similar job should be paid the same wages and other benefits.

The ‘mahapadav’ near Parliament on 9-11 November 2017 is to demand that there should be no contractorisation of permanent and perennial nature of work; and to demand that contract workers doing the same or similar job should be paid the same wages and other benefits.

It is against such anti worker and pro employers policies of the government. Not only contract workers, but permanent workers also have to join the ‘mahapadav’ in tens of thousands on each day.

 

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