Lucky to get Rs.40 for 12 hours work on International Labour Day

May 1st, 2011 - 5:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, May 1 (IANS) For Purnima Bai, 50, International Labour Day on Sunday did not make any difference to her search for work at a labourers’ mart here. While the world celebrated workers’ rights and pride, Purnima was hired for a 12-hour job for just Rs.40.

For the past four years, Purnima has been travelling about 45 km daily by train to the labourers’ mart at Gandhi Maidan in this Chhattisgarh capital to find some work to take care of her five-member family.

The mart here, near the Congress headquarters, is one of the several such places in Raipur where daily-wage workers are hired every morning.

Purnima considered herself lucky as she, along with her two sons, had to jostle with about 150 other men and women to find an employer.

“I am lucky. It’s a ground levelling work in Shanti Nagar colony. I will get Rs.40 for this 12-hour work,” Purnima told IANS.

“But my sons, Vijay (22) and Ajay (19) have not been picked up, I pray they too get hired. I don’t want to return home with just Rs.40,” she said.

Like Purnima, there are about one million workers in Chhattisgarh’s unorganinsed sector despite trader union leaders regularly taking out rallies demanding better job conditions and pay for them.

“The condition of workers in the unorganised sector is worst in the state. There is hardly any scheme to protect their interests,” said C.R. Bakshi, a senior leader of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) in Chhattisgarh.

According to him, labour contractors are “given complete freedom to exploit the misery and poverty of workers who earns Rs.40-50 a day if they get hired”.

The Chhattisgarh government has set the minimum daily wage of Rs.106 for a worker in the unorganised sector, but 75 percent of them hardly get work on all the seven days, said Bakshi.

He added that half of the remaining 25 percent does not get more than Rs.50 a day as the workers agree for any price to avoid starvation in the family.

Tapan Chatterjee, former chief of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) in Chhattisgarh, said: “Unorganised sector workers have been left at the mercy of contractors and individuals in all the 18 districts.

“The most concerning factor is that trade union leaders are not exerting enough pressure on the government to ensure that workers earn a respectable amount daily.”

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