UPA has been holding the reins of government for around ten years now. It promised to the voters in 2004 & 2009 that theirs would be the government of the ‘Aam-aadmi’ and it would do everything to bring comfort in their life. But perhaps ‘Mazdoor’ has no place in UPA’s definition of Aam-aadmi that is why a bulk of Indian Labour has been deprived even of the provisions of labour laws and social security net. Once EPF ceiling was raised from Rs 5000 to Rs 6500 per month in the year 2000, no upward revision has been made during the last 13 years, even though minimum wage has breached the EPF ceiling of Rs 6500. In Delhi itself minimum wage of unskilled labour in around Rs 7700 per month. Earning more than Rs 6500 per month makes them ineligible to be the members of EPFO. That is why EPFO could not enroll any member for the last three years in Delhi.
Even those who are entitled for pension, get just a pittance. Of the 41 lakh pensioners as on March 31, 2013, 15 lakh get below Rs 500 per month. Another 15 lakh get between Rs 500 to Rs 1000 per month. While among the rest take more. Some unfortunate ones get just Rs. 12 per month in the name of pension.
During the last three years there have been discussions in Central Board of Trustees (CBT). Expert Committee on pension and standing parliamentary committee of M/o Labour submitted there recommendation. The petition committee of Rajya Sabha also put forth its conclusion but the result is zero. UPA Government has not moved an inch from its earlier stand.
This is the fate of Aam-Mazdoor in the Government of Aam-aadmi :
Bonus Act provides for no bonus for those drawing more than Rs ten thousand. Even those getting below Rs. 10,000/- would get bonus calculated as if it were Rs 3500 with the result that lakhs of the labourers have been left out of its benefit, but the Government of the aam-aadmi under the pressure of the corporate has brought no change in the law. It has been boasting of The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (NREGA) which Guarantees 100 days job to each household but the truth is that government is not at all interested in providing 100 days job to them. During the year 2012-13, labour was provided job just for 43 days. NREGA labourer expected is to adjust his family needs for full year of 365 days within this means.
The number of labourers in contract system is increasing day by day. While in 1990-91, the total workforce of the number of unorganised workers was 92 per cent, which has risen to 94 per cent in 2012-13. Just 6 per cent of the labour works in organised sector. They have the privilege of having labour laws, though these too are denied to them in practice. Government talks of justice through law courts which is beyond the reach of the workers.
For example Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court & Hon’ble Delhi High Court delivered judgements in 2006 & 2009 respectively that the contractor cannot be provided with PF code number if it has been granted to the principal employer. It is the contract employer & not the contractor who would deduct the PF of contract labour says the court. The Government has not implemented it till day, nor it seems to be interested to apply it in future.
Rise in prices and unemployment are increasing unchecked. The price of onions (the only affordable veg of the poors) has soared by 300 per cent while price of other necessities of life are also going sky-high. Parikh Committee has further come out with the recommendation that rate of LPG cylinder be raised by Rs 250 and that of Kerosene by Rs 4 a litre. Industrial growth has also be come negative. All this has badly affected the life of common people. A study placed India at 111 among 156 countries on poverty. Companies are retrenching the labour to reduce the cost price of their products. Only within two years during 2010-12 unemployment has increased by 2 per cent which affects the entire social life. Increase in cost price, benefits the producers initially only. With the reduction in wages of the labour, they lose purchasing power that reduces the demand leading to ultimate loss to the producers.
Agriculture has also been affected because of unemployment. According to a recent study 90 lakh of working women in agriculture have been thrown out of job during 2009-11, bringing women employment rate from 18 per cent to 16 per cent. In the near future such netas (leaders) of Aam-aadmi Government will have to face the fury of Aam-mazdoors, that may make them in oueue of the unemployed.