ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Illusion Built on Tragedy

Continuing the Central Vista redevelopment amidst the pandemic reveals a sinister stubbornness.

Wage Code and Rules

The minimum wage policy is regarded as an essential tool for improving the welfare of low-paid workers, reducing inequality and poverty within the labour market. The Government of India recently reformed the country’s wage policy and enacted the Code on Wages in August 2019. To give effect to the code, the government has now outlined the implementation mechanism by notifying the draft Code on Wages (Central) Rules in July 2020. This paper examines some of the key reform measures undertaken in the wage code and the implementation mechanism, as provided in the draft wage rules, identifies shortcomings therein, and provides suggestions for improvement.

Labour, Livelihoods, and Employment in the 2021–22 Union Budget

Coming in the midst of the immense damage inflicted on the Indian economy by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021–22 Union Budget needed to perform the unenviable task of compensating households for massive livelihood losses as well as stimulating economic growth while maintaining some fiscal discipline. As it turned out, the government chose to focus on the second and third goals and largely ignored the first.

Trump’s Policies and Billionaire Indian Dreams

Passage from India to America: Billionaire Engineers, Extremist Politics & Advantage to Canada & China by Ignatius Chithelen, Bryant Park Publishers LLC, New York, 2018; pp 212, $40.95 (hardcover).

Reviewing the Labour Code on Industrial Relations Bill, 2015

The National Democratic Alliance government released an early draft of a bill attempting to codify the statutes dealing with industrial relations, that is, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and Industrial Employment (Standing Orders)Act, 1946. The Labour Code on Industrial Relations Bill, 2015, is one of the three labour codes the government is working on to consolidate all the important labour legislation. It is important to analyse the text of the 2015 bill when the ruling party’s own affiliate, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, protests against the proposed bill.

The Nokia SEZ Story

The closure of Nokia's mobile phone assembly plant in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai, just eight years after it commenced production, illustrates how corporations can quit operations at a point when it is no longer profitable for them to continue, while the impact of such closures on workers is profound. The special economic zones policy of the state actively promoted corporate-led industrialisation promising employment, and creating aspirations among young workers. There was no accountability or labour-centred exit policies factored into the state's industrial policies when state governments welcomed private investments. With the closure of Nokia, not only have promises been broken, but its workers and supply companies have lost their livelihoods and future possibilities of work.

Sharit Bhowmik, 1948-2016

A fellow academic and comrade of 33 years writes about the labour studies scholar, much loved teacher, indefatigable trade unionist and writer who combined street studies with grass-roots work and organising.

Tribal Migrant Women as Domestic Workers in Mumbai

Focusing on female migrant domestic workers from Jharkhand, this article looks at their lives before and after migration. Jharkhand witnesses heavy migration and mobility to cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, especially female migration. Girls and young women coming from marginalised communities migrate through different means and organisations like placement agencies, religious institutions or with the help of friends or relatives. Most of them get into the unorganised sector such as domestic work. Lack of social security measures continues to be a major challenge and a source of distress for these workers.

Marriage, Work and Education among Domestic Workers in Kolkata

This paper analyses the findings of a research project undertaken by the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University on questions of marriage and related issues in the context of paid domestic work among the working women from two squatter colonies in Kolkata. The respondents are seen to be caught between the imperatives of early marriage and girlhood employment, but they insist upon the value of education for their daughters. Many of them have experienced and suffered early marriage and childbirth and are vehement in their rejection of such a trajectory for their daughters, even though not all of them are able to carry through such decisions. Parents from urban working-class neighbourhoods are not obsessed with sexual chastity of their daughters; they accept courtships and elopements, sometimes hailing the latter with some relief. What these mothers share with their middle class counterparts is an interest in tremendous investment in their children's education, which is in both cases accompanied by great expectations for the future.

Workers in Census 2001

The recently released Census 2001 data on the number of workers has thrown up several issues which impinge on the estimation of the workforce in the country and its structure. While the growth of all workers overall is quite close to the approximations of the Planning Commission for the Ninth Plan, disaggregated for main and marginal workers, the data show startling variations.

Strange Alliances

Shankar Gopal, in ‘American AntiGlobalisation Movement’ (EPW, August 25-31), forcefully argues that American groups protesting in Seattle in 1999 often ignored the concerns of developing nations about the inclusion of a labour rights ‘social clause’ in trade agreements. Too often, concerns of economic protectionism expressed by developing nations’ governments and trade unions were dismissed as elite driven and overly nationalistic. No doubt this is true. At the same time, however, I believe that activists and scholars in the developing world who are engaged with these issues also need to question their own assumptions about the motivations behind western support for a social clause. By sticking firmly to conventional wisdom (on both sides), unintended and strange political alliances are formed that cannot be helpful for workers. Instead, a new international dialogue needs to take place about how trade might be used to improve the lives of workers everywhere.

Anthropological Perspectives on Prostitution and AIDS in India

Increasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS across wider sections of the Indian society has focused attention on particularly vulnerable groups, such as sex workers. Thus far, attempts to rehabilitate and to arouse social awareness have been sporadic and isolated. This paper argues for the need to evoke a wider awareness by looking to the historical circumstances surrounding prostitution and argues for a multi-pronged effort to combat HIV/AIDS.
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