(New Series No. 151, May '08)
Decision of the Supreme Court of the Gov't of India:
According to Article 23 of the Constitution, if the state or central gov't pays less than the statutory minimum wage to any worker it is considered forced labor. Workers who are paid less than the statutory minimum wage are bonded workers. Bonded labour, getting work done in a fuedal mode, is banned by law and the Indian Constitution.
UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY FOR WORKER’S RIGHTS
*IIT Kanpur, Delhi University and Jawarhalal Nehru University are Government of India institutions as well as major centers of knowledge-production.
-In a 1999 survey, some students of IIT Kanpur discovered that none of the contractors on campus were paying the statutory minimum wages to its workers.
-In 2004, 1,500 male and female workers were engaged in construction-repair work worth 28 to 30 crore rupees at twenty places. On the JNU campus, workers in construction, library, gardening, cleaning, cafeterias are hired through contractors. These workers are not paid the statutory minimum wage. Some students, employees, and teachers discovered this fact. In turn, they founded "University Community for Workers Rights."
Afternoon news on All India Radio on May Day. The Government of Delhi has set the daily minimum wage at 140 rupees, but all the workers the AIR correspondent interviewed were only paid 80 to 85 rupees.
-With the emergence of this opposition to bonded labor and fuedal mode of work on JNU's university campus, some students were punished in June 2007.
(Information taken from People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) publication "Fettered Lives: A Report on Contract System and Exploitation of Workers in JNU.") Contact PUDR: c/o Sharmila Purkayasth, S. Miranda House, Teachers Flat, Delhi University, Delhi 110007.
MINIMUM WAGE IN THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION
*We'll not talk about the extreme shamelessness or the conspiracy of generating a fearsome reality to make people passive… We will also not talk here about bonded workers at brick mills and stone quarries, now and then depicted as 'extraordinary' or unusual. Come, let's take a glance at factory production in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana.
First, let us take a look at the authorized factory areas by their block, sector, phase. Okhla Industrial area in Delhi is such a place. Udyog Vihar in Gurgaon is such a place. Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida in U.P. are major factory areas adjoining Delhi. Faridabad is mostly a city of factories. In factories, situated in unauthorized industrial areas in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana, 70 to 75% of all the workers in factories in authorized industrial areas are not in company documents. They are considered 'illegal workers.' These 70 to 75% of workers are not paid the statutory minimum wage. The statutory minimum wages in Uttar Pradesh is 2,699 rupees. In Haryana, it is 3,535 rupees. In Delhi, it is 3,633.
Among these workers, many are forced to sign in company and gov't documents that they have received statutory minimum wages when they are paid less than that. If one leaves or is kicked out after working for a week or ten days in a factory, payment is not given for that week of work.
In the national capital region spread over Delhi, U.P., and Haryana in registered factories located at authorized sites, 75 to 80% of workers are not paid minimum wages.In Delhi and Faridabad, there are lots of areas which are not authorized for factory production, but where large numbers of factories exist. Today a significant portion of factory production is taking place in these unauthorized areas. Those who made plans and policies for factories in Okhla, Udyog Vihar, Noida, Faridabad have not allotted any space for worker's housing nearby. In this situation, workers are compelled to live in unauthorized colonies...In these colonies, the destructive dance of workshops and factories continues day and night.
95 to 98% of workers engaged in industrial production are invisible in documents. 90 to 95% of workers engaged in workshops and factories in unauthorized areas of Delhi and Faridabad are not paid the statutory minimum wage.And to put salt on a wound- there is ‘honararium.’ The Gov't has taken the lead in paying 1/2, 1/3, 1/4th of the statutory minimum wage in the name of paying an honararium rather than what is actually owed.
CREATION OF THE WORLD MARKET
*Getting work done gratis was the basis of serfdom. Labouring masses have been tied up in many bonds. As a a part of their birthright, those living in forts and palaces extracted a part of the produce from laboring masses. Proponents of the market raised a slogan of opposition to taking things gratis. Traders declared "give with this hand, take with that hand." A new flag of independence. A major portion of serfs were then transformed into artisans-peasants. Representatives of the market left fuedals far behind in cruelty, oppression-exploitation...While they broke many old bonds, they still kept many bonds intact and created many new bonds. The valor of traders who dethroned fuedal mode through slave trade and bonded labour fructified in the making of the world market.
The world market became the basis of production for the market employing wage-labour. World market became the basis of wage-system. The new mode of production denouncing corruption, cruelty, slave trade, indentured labor of traders gave ‘less development’ as a reason for these. Establishing itself through steam, and coal-based machines, this mode declared progress and development as the cure for all ills. Cutting each and every bond, demolishing every shelter, the vehicle of progress-development glorified the free availability of wage workers as 'freedom'. The chariot of progress-development has played such havoc with the earth, oppression-exploitation are extremely pale in front of it.
In a few areas, some workers had slight relief from bonded labour and fuedal bonds. But, increasing numbers of labouring masses began to sink in fathomless whirlpools.
*Serfs transformed into peasants. Artisans became free from fuedal bonds. The illusions of peasant-artisans' freedom through labor produced for the world market...Production for the market employing wage work carries a social death for artisans-peasants.
In these 200 hundred years, production for the market, employing wage work has become world-wide. In these 200 years, the social death and social murder of artisanship-peasantry has been increasing throughout the earth. Increasing numbers of labouring masses have been transformed into wage workers. Ruined peasants. Artisans changing into wage workers. Reducing the demand of wage workers with new, newer machines!
This is the result of the process of progress-development. This process has created a situation today where only one worker is needed, but an hundred are available. This condition increases workers' compulsions to such an extent that there a multitude of workers available for work in any condition. The increasing compulsion of workers does increase pity. Pity is also extremely dangerous for the present social system. All governments, all courts, all big brains are acquainted with the present reality, but they are helpless to confront this reality. Therefore, face to face with bad to worse conditions, workers have to leave aside gov't- courts-big brains and think for themselves about to what to do...