Top
Home > Feature Post > Laborers: The Deprived Class

Laborers: 'The Deprived Class'

Laborers: The Deprived Class

Our world is like a vehicle. It is like any other vehicle, which runs on it's wheels and needs all of them to run in a sync to maintain balance. Unfortunately the vehicle called the "Society" does not run in sync as all of it's wheels does not receive equal treatment and care. One of such wheels who do not receive proper care are the laborers belonging to the unorganized sector.

There are two types of workforce, the organized sector and the unorganized sector. In local terms, organized sector or formal sector in India refers to licensed organizations, that is, those who are registered and pay GST. These include the publicly traded companies, incorporated or formally registered entities, corporations, factories, shopping malls, hotels, and large businesses. Unorganized sector, also known as own account enterprises, refers to all unlicensed, self-employed or unregistered economic activity such as owner manned general stores, handicrafts and handloom workers, rural traders, farmers, etc. India's Ministry of Labor, in its 2008 report, classified the unorganized labor in India into four groups. This classification categorized India's unorganized labor force by occupation, nature of employment, especially distressed categories and service categories. The unorganized occupational groups include small and marginal farmers, landless agricultural laborers, sharecroppers, fishermen, those engaged in animal husbandry, beedi rolling, labeling and packing, building and construction workers, leather workers, weavers, artisans, salt workers, workers in brick kilns and stone quarries, workers in saw mills, and workers in oil mills. A separate category based on nature of employment includes attached agricultural laborers, bonded laborers, migrant workers, contract and casual laborers. Another separate category dedicated to distressed unorganized sector includes toddy tappers, scavengers, carrier of head loads, drivers of animal driven vehicles, loaders and un�loaders. The last unorganized labor category includes service workers such as midwives, domestic workers, barbers, vegetable and fruit vendors, newspaper vendors, pavement vendors, hand cart operators, and the unorganized retail. Over 94 percent of India's working population is part of the unorganized sector. The unorganized sector has low productivity and offers lower wages. Even though it accounted for over 94 percent of workers, India's unorganized sector created just 57 percent of India's national domestic product in 2006, or about 9 fold less per worker than the organized sector. Agriculture, Dairy, Horticulture and related occupations alone employ 52 percent of labor in India. About 30 million workers are migrant workers, most in agriculture, and local stable employment is unavailable for them. Many issues plague unorganized labor. India's Ministry of Labor has identified significant issues with migrant, home or bondage laborers and child labor. India has numerous Labor laws such as those prohibiting discrimination and Child Labor, those that aim to guarantee fair and humane conditions of work, those that provide social security, minimum wage, right to organize, form trade unions and enforce collective bargaining. India also has numerous rigid regulations such as maximum number of employees per company in certain sectors of economy, and limitations

on employers on retrenchment and layoffs, requirement of paperwork, bureaucratic process and government approval for change in labor in companies even if these are because of economic conditions. Despite of having these laws laborers from the unorganized sector faces discrimination and harassment in their workplace. Often they are not paid their wages or salaries properly, women face sexual harassment at work and are forced to tolerate all the wrong doings of the employers. Workers are exploited in many ways, paid lesser wage, are made to work longer hours without any extra money, children are forced to work instead of studying. Building and Construction workers face extortion, they are trapped and looted by the employer in the name of Retention money where they take huge amount of money which belongs to the laborers in the name of security deposit but actually never returns the money to the workers, this is an illegal practice but unfortunately this still is heavily practiced. In today's date when the world is facing a deadly pandemic many laborers are struggling to arrange two square meals for themselves, many workers had to walk for thousands of kilometers due to the lack of money and transport, the government did not arrange any help for the migrant workers to return home, thousands of workers had walked miles after miles, many died due to sunstroke, many were run over by trains while resting, and many had to spend the days walking and crying themselves to sleep at night as they were starving, so many pregnant women, children had to walk thousands of kilometers in the scorching heat, still they didn't receive any help from the government, those workers did not have money to treat themselves when sick. Many employers left their employees in this deadly situation which is wrong in so many ways. It is the responsibility of an employer to help the workers in such difficult situations on humanitarian ground. An example of such an incident is the issue which the Contractual laborers of BSNL are facing. 80,000 laborers nationwide did not receive their salary for 17 months, they are forcefully being removed from their jobs and even amidst this pandemic the BSNL Authority didn't help them. 11 workers have already committed suicide and the rest are still fighting tooth and nail in the hope that one day they will get their rights upon. BSNL comes under the Central Government but unfortunately the workers are still deprived from their rights and are left to suffer when it is the duty of both the Central Government and BSNL Authority to look after these workers. A similar thing happened with the SWIGGY delivery persons where the company was not paying them properly and also threatened to terminate the employees who

complained against such injustice. Though the situation with SWIGGY delivery persons is a little better than before the contractual laborers of BSNL along with uncountable other workers whose story we don't know are struggling, dying, seeking help but unfortunately the people who are responsible for their well-being have shut off their eyes & ears, they refuse to see or hear the pain of these people experience. Our society stands on pillars out off which one pillar is our labor workforce, if they fall the entire world falls. This situation makes me ask a question, How long will they have to endure such pain and why? How long will they be neglected?? WHERE ARE WE GOING?? WHY IS THE EXPLOITATION OF THE POOR BY THE PRIVILEGED STILL BEING ACCEPTED?? WHY??

—The Hawk Features

Updated : 18 Oct 2020 4:32 AM GMT
Tags:    

SOUMYA SHANKAR BOSE

INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION, West Bengal Chapter


Next Story
Share it
Top