New Bengal Regime’s Dismal Record With Unorganised Sector Workers

December 23, 2011

A report received from Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity

The Asanghatit Khetra Shramik Sangrami Manch, a platform of 12 unions working for the rights of the unorganized sector workers, released a report, on 8th December, 2011, at the Kolkata Press Club. The report comprised an assessment of the first 200 days of TMC Government’s progress on issues and demands raised by the workers of the state.

The press conference which was attended by various leading newspapers and news channels addressed a number of issues like the progress of the MNREGA (100 days of work), the public distribution system for cheap food, minimum wages, state of contract workers and forest rights.

The Manch released a booklet containing data and information related to all the concerned issues addressed in the conference, and along with it, it also released a mark sheet on the Government’s performance regarding the issues in question. The Government failed in four areas where their performance was assessed (MGNREGA, minimum wages, protection of contract workers and forest rights), and barely passed in one (public distribution system for cheap food).

The organisers also pointed that fighting for better wages for unorganized sector workers was a dangerous pursuit, with death threats being received by Prithvish Bose, adviser of Shramjivi Sammanvay Committee, one of the constituents of the Manch, because of their demands to hike wages of Brick Kiln workers. They said that brick field owners, cutting across party lines, had held a secret meeting in Akash brick field and it was suspected that they had hired professionals to kill Prithvish Bose.

The PHE Water Supply Employees Union (WB), another constituent, whose members operate drinking water pumps of the State Government claimed that they had been cheated by both the present and the past Government. Pump operators receive a daily wage of Rs.169. Payment is irregular, with some workers having dues for 12-15 months. The work, which is of a perennial nature, continues to be contractual , in violation of the law. The PHE Water Supply Employees Union (WB) declared that it would be starting a dharna in front of their Minister’s office from 12th December, which would be then converted to a hunger strike if their demands for timely payments, permanent status and minimum wages were not met. They also said that all pump operators would also resort to mass casual leave from 26th December if the Government persisted in ignoring them.

The press conference clearly outlined that the unions who are part of the Manch are far from happy with the performance of the Government up till now, on issues related to the deprived classes and unorganized sector. There was enough evidence to believe that the Government was not doing what it can do, and that it had diverged from the pre poll path it had chosen.

With this note are attached the mark sheets in Bengali and English, and the detailed report in Bengali.

Full report in Bengali [PDF, 2.4 MB] »

Report card table in Bengali »

Report card in English