Blind workers express concern over Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill

February 10, 2014

Blind Workers Union
(A Unit of All India Federation of Blind Workers)
T-44, Panjabi Basti, Near Gopal Dairy, Baljeet Nagar, New Delhi-110008
Contact: 9313730069. Email: blindworkersunion@gmail.com
07.02.2014
PRESS STATEMENT

Blind workers express concern over the recently debated Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill (2014)

The Rajya Sabha has recently been debating the bill on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which is a long pending piece of legislation introduced in order to enable India to fulfill its obligation as a signatory to UNCRPD (2007). The new legislation will replace the existing Persons with Disability (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995. Blind workers, however, remained unconvinced of the new legislation’s intentions and efficacy.
It is a well known fact that the UNCRPD (United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability) made it compulsory for the state parties to provide equal remuneration to the persons with disability and to prohibit discrimination in the labour market. Further it is also obligatory for state parties to ensure that persons with disability are not held in slavery or in servitude—a condition identified by the Supreme Court as one in which any employee is denied the basic labour right of minimum wage. Thus, according to several landmark Supreme Court rulings, many blind workers can be seen as working as bonded labour in private companies and NGOs.

Unfortunately, according to the Blind Workers’ Union (BWU), although the Indian state is well aware of the rampant exploitation of disabled workers across the private (and even in the public) sector where they are employed on contract, neither did the 2011 Bill, nor what was finally tabled in the Rajya Sabha, had any provision which would guarantee economic rights to the blind community, and check the bodies violating such fundamental rights. The government by passing such a piece of legislation has failed to curb the exploitation of the working class disabled persons, and has allowed erring NGOs and the private sector to prosper on the exploitation of the disabled community. The Union also sees the introduction of enhanced reservation as a piecemeal measure which will still fail to address the rampant unemployment problem faced by impoverished disabled persons in this country. This is because such enhanced reservation will be enforced in the public sector, where job creation has been limited. The private sector, meanwhile, will remain unregulated in this regard, and this is the sector where the majority of disabled are working.

Ramnath
(On behalf of BWU)