To ` 5th May 2015
The Labour Minister,
Government of Delhi.
Subject: Calling attention to Issues of Labour Law Violations in the National Capital Region of Delhi
Dear Mr. Gopal Rai,
The Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to some important cases and issues of labour law violations happening in the National Capital Region of Delhi. As an organization, PUDR has been consistently taking up issues related to various aspects of labour law violations, involving instances of non-payment of minimum wages, overtime payments, non-adherence to safety standards, accidents etc. Drawing on the fact that your party has in its manifesto pledged to work towards the welfare of workers by ensuring regularisation of contractual employment in the organised sector, some of the immediate concerns to which we would like to draw your attention, relate to the following:
1. An Enquiry be ordered into Violation of Labour Laws by Construction Companies involved in Commonwealth Games Projects
PUDR in a writ petition filed in the High Court of Delhi had been successful in bringing to light the collusion between private companies and government authorities such as the Labour Department of the Government of Delhi, in allowing widespread violation of labour laws at construction sites associated with the Commonwealth Games. Starting from non-maintenance of work and wage registers, to non-compliance with minimum wage payments or health and safety standards, in almost all cases, instances of violations were found to be true by several Committees set up by the High Court itself.
Enclosed with this letter is a copy of the report filed by the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner (North) on fraud in the maintenance of muster rolls at the Commonwealth Games Village – a public private initiative between Delhi Development Association and Emaar MGF a multinational company, subcontracted to Ahluwalia Constructions a private company based in Delhi. The Report confirmed fraud in the muster rolls after getting them forensically tested in a government laboratory, wherein it was found that the thumb impressions of workers on the muster rolls were found to be forged and belonging to one and the same person. Enclosed with this report are two separate samples of muster rolls as they were maintained at the work sites. Both these documents clearly show the complicity with which both private companies and the government authorities relegated questions related to labour in the background.
PUDR would urge you to reopen investigations into all Commonwealth Games related construction projects - taking cue from the forgery reported by the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner ( North) at the Commonwealth Games Village. PUDR would be willing to help out with the process by making available all the papers and documents related to violations before such a committee. You might recollect that the question of corruption arising on account of non-payment of stipulated wages on the part of private Companies was never addressed by the Shunglu Committee set up to look into Commonwealth Games related corruption.
2. End of Contractual Employment and Expansion and Recognition of New Categories of Work for Coverage under Labour Laws
Based on field experience in cases related to work in the unorganised sector, PUDR would urge you to bring within the fold of existing labour law protection certain vulnerable segments working in the unorganised sector such as domestic workers, labour employed in Group Housing Residential Societies, Security Guards, sanitation workers and other such forms of casual labour. These groups while providing many important services to the city of Delhi are not protected under the existing labour laws of the State. Moreover since many of them are migrant workers, they are at the receiving end of the employment chain and therefore have no legal rights to make any claims.
Also in the event of accidents or death, these vulnerable categories that otherwise are a part of the workforce, find themselves unable to either lay claim to compensation or any other benefits that accrues to workers injured during employment.
PUDR urges you to ensure that all Employers irrespective of status i.e. organised and unorganised, be asked to maintain a register with the names of all workers employed by them. Even in situations where subcontracting is rampant, it should be mandatory for all Employers to certify the number and names of all workers employed by them, in order to be able to carry out their business. Employers will be personally responsible for all the information provided and in the event of any reporting of violations such as accidents or termination, they would be personally answerable. These lists should be electronically available with the Ward Commissioners or the Office of the Regional Labour Commissioners for verification and inspection by unions and other civil society groups. At present, a large majority of workers engaged in work of perennial nature are not really covered under the category or the definition of labour, PUDR would urge you to expand the notion of labour to include all those categories of work where some form of remuneration is involved.
3. Right of Workers to form Unions and Protest
The fundamental right of workers to engage in a process of collective bargaining through the formation of unions has been severely affected under liberalisation. For a majority of workers employed under contract, the very act of collective engagement is actively disallowed by the Employers, leaving them with very little scope to articulate their day to day grievances related to wages and safety. In this context, we urge you to grant to all workers the right to form unions and carry out protests, without any fear of intimidation or threats within the state of Delhi.
Sharmila Purkayastha and Megha Bahl
Phone: 9971179595, 9013292099
Contact Address: A6/1 Aditi Apartments,
D Block, Janakpuri, New Delhi -110058