Pourakarmikas stage protest for better working conditions

Protesters at the rally

Workers gathered from all over the city at Town Hall, in a united front against the unjust labour laws and the injustices they face.

On May Day, pourakarmikas working in Bengaluru staged a protest demanding better working and living conditions. Some of their other demands included the abolition of contract system and to regularise all workers, fix a minimum wage of Rs 21,000, to withdraw all anti-worker amendments in all labour laws and to seek the immediate release of the Maruti and Pricol workers.

The protest was staged by All India Central Council of Trade Union (AICCTU).  The rally started at Freedom Park at 11:00 am and ended at Town Hall. It culminated outside Town Hall where a public meeting was held.

In a flyer handed out, the protesters made following remarks on how cheap labourers are treated in India: “Who would you rather employ: One German worker, two Americans, five  Taiwanese,  eight Brazilians or 128 Indians? The hourly wage bill for each of these five groups of workers turns out to be the same. If an Indian manufacturing worker can be hired for only 1/4th of a dollar an hour compared to 42 dollars an hour for a German worker for an hour, of course the capitalist will opt for the cheap labour; thus, the Indian working class is exposed to such plunder and loot without any protection.”

Mangala, a BBMP worker, said , “I have not been paid for two months. They are supposed to give me Rs 14,000.” When asked whether she has been provided safety equipment by her employers, she replied in negative.

Workers from one of the BBMP wards

Around 500 workers from different wards gathered together to protest against the injustices they face. Many of them had even brought their children.

During the public meeting, various workers came up on stage and spoke  about their struggles. Vanjanamma, one of the workers who spoke, said, “only the AICCTU know and understand our struggles, nobody else.” She also exclaimed, “Sanghat main Bal hai!” which when translated means “Unity is Strength!”

Joan Cherian