Friday, September 12, 2014

More protests in Gujarat against manual scavenging; Wadhwan women workers demand minimum wages

By Our Representative
Following successes achieved by the protesting manual scavengers of Dudhrej municipality of Surendranagar district in Gujarat (read HERE to read), women workers of another neighbouring town, Wadhwan, have gone on strike against the despicable practice. Sitting on dharna in front of the Surendranagar district collector’s office with placards such as “manual scavenging continues in Modi’s Gujarat” and “real face of Vibrant Gujarat” in their hand, the women workers, employed through contractor, have demanded that they should be paid minimum wages and provided protective equipment for their work. Earlier, they took out a protest rally.
In a written representation to the district collector, Surendrangar, a delegation under the leadership of Sarojben Hasmukhbhai Valodara of the Mahila Adhikar Panch, the women workers simultaneously said that they want “early implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013”, which bans manual scavenging in all its manifestations, including manual cleaning of human excreta and cleaning up gutters without protective equipment. “The authorities should go out of the way to propagate about this law”, it said.
The representation complained, the 71 women workers working on contract get merely Rs 150 per day, “which is Rs 80.30 less than the minimum wages," adding, “Despite the type of work they do, they have not been regularized. They are not given any pay slips, nor do they have any identity card. While the contractor deducts money from their wage for employees’ provident fund, they have not been given any slip for this. We therefore demand that not only should they be paid minimum wages, they should get pay slips, identity cards and provident fund slips.”
Along with the women workers, 25 drivers collecting filth from around the city to be dumped at a land-fill site outside the town, have gone on strike with similar demands. The representation said, “The drivers are given Rs 100 per day as wages, which is Rs 132.30 less than the minimum wages, nor are they given pay slips, identity cards of provident fund slips. All this should be regularized for them as well.” It added, “Neither the women workers nor the drivers are given even the simple broom or the carrying box. In fact, they have to spend money from their own pocket for this. This should be immediately looked into.”
The representation further said that “despite their written plea to the deputy collector in Wadhwan and the authorities in the municipality, our problems remain unresolved.” It demanded, “We want that our pay should be deposited in our accounts opened in the nationalized bank under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Jan Dhan project.” It added, “We also want that action should be taken against the contractors who do not pay us minimum wages, and are involved in misappropriating funds given to them by the municipality to pay us wages. Also, action should be taken against them for not giving up protective equipment.”

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