We must ensure the Rule of Workers to secure the rights of labour!
“Survey of the rights of workers” is the campaign that is under process in Delhi’s Okhla Industrial Estate 1 & 2. Mazdoor Ekta Committee (MEC) has plans to run this campaign all over Delhi. It was begun in Okhla. The campaign took off on 13th May 2014 and was continuing even as this report was filed.
The campaign aims to raise the political and social awareness of the workers. The workers have to unite in one organisation and under one banner to forge their unity and not get divided politically. They have to become aware of the necessity to organise as a class so that the entire working class will become conscious and fight unitedly, and not just limit their struggles to a demand for higher wages, as is happening now.
Hundreds of workers filled have the survey form and narrated the story of their exploitation in their workplaces – “we have to work much longer than the stipulated number of hours under the contract system; we work two shifts back-to-back without rest. We get paid far less than minimum wages. We are forced to work for upto 12 hours without overtime, for a mere Rs.5000-6000, because of the collusion of the owner, contractor and the Labour department.”
The workers narrate how sometimes, after working for 2-4 days, their contracts abruptly terminated on the excuse that the work is completed. They have not been paid for it either. If they demand the money, then the goondas of the contractor threaten them. Some of the workers talk of the threats issued by the owners of their dismissal because they are trying to organise. The workers say, “we can expect no help from the police in fighting our exploitation either because the latter are paid off by the owners. Not only are we not paid the minimum wages declared by the government, we are not even paid the agreed upon contract wage by the contractor.
The Survey has revealed that it is common in the Okhla Industrial Area for factories to employ contract labour for regular jobs. The contractors get the workers to sign on plain paper. These workers get no social security benefits from the contractors. They are dismissed the moment they approach the courts in defence of their rights.They have no documentation to show evidence of working in the company.
Very many instances of such exploitation were narrated by the workers to the MEC activists. They are convinced that they have to organise themselves and intensify their struggle to win their rights.
The owners of the factories have called in the police on several occasions to interrupt the survey, so that the workers do not fill the forms. Several management representatives have come to the survey location to try and find out what MEC was surveying. Despite all these constraints, the MEC activists are militantly carrying on with the survey.
Workers have expressed their desire to form organisations of struggle so that they can earn wages according to the work performed. Several among them have said that they want to become a part of the organisation, whereupon they have been invited to join MEC.
Workers have enthusiastically purchased copies of Mazdoor Ekta Lehar in the course of the Survey. Large number of workers pick up copies of the Communist Ghadar party of India’s Manifesto, and the interview of Com. Lal Singh, entitled, “Corruption, Capitalism and the Indian State.”
MEC calls on the workers to join the organisation, and to step up the struggle and strengthen it by enjoining more and more people in it.