SHILLONG, June 24 (Newmai): Workers Power along with Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) has threatened to resort to various constitutional means of agitation to make the government take notice of the various demands including increasing the minimum wage to Rs. 350 for unskilled workers and Rs. 462 for skilled workers.
Workers Power – a federation of 13 plus workers unions from across Meghalaya, along with Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) had submitted a memorandum to the Meghalaya Deputy chief minister with additional charge of Labour, Prestone Tynsong on May 10, 2018, highlighting the fact that Meghalaya has the lowest minimum wage in India inspite of the fact that the cost of living and inflation in the State is higher than most other states in the country. Moreover, the schedule of employment in Meghalaya does not reflect the reality of working conditions, whereas workers are denied their statutory rights like PF, Health facility through ESI, Paid Leave. Also, many of the establishments employ contract workers through Labour Contractors, even though the work is perennial and regular in Nature.
Additionally, central establishments in Meghalaya do not even pay Central Minimum Wages.
Workers’ Power demanded that the minimum wages should be increased to bring it in line with either the Central Wages or be made a Living wage reflecting the living realities of Meghalaya.
The memorandum had stated that the demands of workers be met in a time bound manner and consultative manner. Workers power also insisted that on the minimum wage, leave, PF, ESI, maternity benefit, crèche, a process of tripartite consultation should be completed in a month’s time so that the workers are not forced to agitate.
“Workers Power has already sent a reminder to the government that the consultations have yet to begin on these demands and thus the Workers of Meghalaya may have to resort to various constitutional means of agitation to make the government take notice of these demands,” TUR leader Angela Rangad said.
Mentionably, the charter of demands include – revision of Statutory Minimum Wage, revision of schedule of employment, categorization of workers into unskilled/ Semi-Skilled/ Skilled/ Highly Skilled should be based on experience and qualification; all establishments in Meghalaya that fall under Central Sphere should pay wages according to central sphere minimum wage; to have an easy system of complaints if wages are below statutory minimum wage; enforcing of all the leaves like CL, EL/PL, sick leave as per Factory Act & Meghalaya Shops & Establishment Act including for contract and outsourced workers; besides enforcing of payment of overtime as per law.
Other demands are immediate implementation of equal pay for equal work; stopping outsourcing of work through labour contractors in the government, semi government, private sector besides abolishing contract works in perennial jobs; strict enforcement of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act in all work establishments in the state; immediate constitution of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and Local complaints committee (LCC) as specified under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
The association further demanded setting up of Meghalaya Workers’ Welfare Fund to support various social security and welfare schemes for the workers for temporary, casual, daily-wage and contract workers in organized and unorganized sector which include PF, health insurance/ESI, Gratuity & pension for all workers besides implementation of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
It also demanded immediate implementation of the Central Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014; funding and developing workers’ housing and promote workers housing cooperatives with interest free loans. All Workers Unions & Association should be offered land at one rupee per square feet and making subsidized bus passes and public transport arrangements for all workers (To & Fro). All hawkers and street vendors should also be extended godown and transport facilities, whereas all commercial buildings in the urban area should have space for street vendors and hawkers, the charter said.
It has also sought protection of labour rights of migrant workers. The association has also demanded reservation for local and domicile residents of Meghalaya in all civilian jobs in defence establishments in Meghalaya, besides implementation of Meghalaya Reservation Policy in letter and spirit.