Peoples Union for Democratic Rights
The Chief Minister,
Uttar Pradesh 23rd September 2009
Subject : Drawing Attention to Grave Violations of Labour Law in Gorakhpur
This is to draw your attention to the grave violations of labour law and increasing repression on workers organised under the Sanyukt Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Morcha, agitating against the non–implementation of labour law and regulations, in two factories Modern Laminators Ltd and Modern Packaging Ltd., located in Gorakhpur town. For over a month and a half, workers of both these factories have been sitting in protest against the rampant malpractices such as non-observance of minimum wage rules, issue of job cards, wage slips, ESI and PF benefits etc., by the management.
Given this situation PUDR would like to draw your attention to the following developments, which impact on the situation as it exists on the ground.
First, despite several petitions placed before concerned District Officials such as the District Labour Commissioner, the workers have yet to receive any justice. Following the notice issued by the workers on August 3rd, demanding information related to wages and benefits, there have been 10 meetings at the Office of the Regional Labour Commissioner, none of which have been attended by the management.
Second, despite the notification given by workers of the arbitrary closure of the factories by the management, the office of the DLC has yet to investigate and produce its report on the matter. Even a verbal assurance by the Collector on the 12th of September that the management comply with labour laws has not been pursued by the DLC. Indefinite postponement due to repeated absence of one party, and the reluctance of the Labour Department to intervene in a pro-active manner, amounts in our opinion to a serious dereliction of duty on part of concerned officials. It may be recalled that under Section 8(4) of the Factories Act, the District Magistrate is empowered to exercise the powers of an Inspector, reporting thereby on any discrepancies that may exist with respect to issues related to labour.
Third, during this period, while the struggle has been avowedly peaceful, there have been repeated attempts by the District administration in connivance with the factory management to malign the movement by defaming it as a ‘maoist’ agitation. In conjuring up a threat of Maoism where none exists, the District administration is deflecting attention from the real issues and thereby failing in fulfilling the responsibility constitutionally assigned to it.
Fourth, there has been a spate of unwarranted attacks and harassment of workers during this period. There have been repeated attempts to intimidate individual workers especially those leading the struggle. In incidents where workers are the victims, the Police have not been forthcoming in recording complaints brought forward by the workers.
In drawing your attention to the above mentioned points, we expect you to take immediate notice of the situation and call upon the District administration to ensure that labour law and regulations are adhered to within its jurisdiction. In this context, we would also like to bring to your notice a case from Harda (Madhya Pradesh) where the High Court (W.P.No.2083, 2009) on appeal by workers, imposed fines on the Saw Mill Factory Owners Association for violating the stipulated rules regarding minimum wages and workers safety, guaranteed under the Factories Act in India.
Gautam Navlakha & Moushumi Basu
Email : pudrdelhi@ yahoo.com