Unorganised sector labourers ask for fair pay

November 12, 2014 10:53 am | Updated November 16, 2021 04:46 pm IST - KOLKATA

Even the daima (midwife) at district health centre get a better pay than us, even though we serve as helpers to doctors, said Sarma Rajak, who works as a ‘link person’ at a health centre at Nasipur village in Malda district of West Bengal.

Several people like Ms. Rajak, assembled here on Tuesday to participate in a rally to protest for their rights and prepared a charter of demands, including the fixing of a minimum wage for all types of labourers. With the State witnessing the shutdown of several tea estates, the charter also demanded that the State government immediately open the tea estates, declare a minimum wage for tea workers and provide for land or a house for tea workers.

“I started working as a link person from 2005 and have been paid Rs. 100 per month ever since then. Today [Tuesday] at the meeting, we were told that our correct wage should have been Rs. 6,600,” Ms. Rajak said. She was accompanied by 50 other link persons from Malda.

As a link person, she is expected to accompany doctors during their visits and administer vaccines to pregnant ladies and infants. Writing letters and meeting officials at the local Block Development Office has been of no help as their pleas have fallen on deaf ears, she said.

Majority of India’s working force is employed in the unorganised sector, which denies them the benefits of government-regulated welfare schemes like minimum wages, public provident fund, pension, etc.

Many of those who had assembled from different parts of Bengal to participate in the rally complained that the MGNREGA scheme was a failed one. Majority of the labour unions were backed by the Left Front.

“No one from our village (Hasnabad in North 24 Parganas district) was employed under the 100-day scheme in the past one year. Wages of many people, who had earlier worked under the scheme, have still not been cleared. The situation has worsened ever since the ruling All India Trinamool Congress came to power,” Utpal Sarkar, who heads a union of unorganised sector labourers in the village, said.

Talking about workers employed in bidi factories, Mr. Sarkar said: “Workers mostly get paid Rs. 85-100 a month. The rising prices of fertilisers are making things worse as they are falling deeper into debt.”

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