Posts tagged ‘misc’

December 18, 2010

Notifications by the Government of Rajasthan on late payment of wages in the MGNREGA


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November 17, 2010

The Mazdoor Haq Satyagraha ENDS

For more information click here.

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November 2, 2010

Pamphlet for ‘Black Diwali’

Please join us on the occasion of Diwali to come to Statue Circle with unlit diyas to celebrate Kali Diwali. This is to protest against the government’s insensitivity towards the now month long agitation led by us in Jaipur demanding the payment of minimum wages to MGNREGA workers.

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October 19, 2010

Myths about the MGNREGA

Myth 1: An increase in the minimum wage of MGNREGA will result in agricultural labourers leaving the farms they are currently employed in. The farmers will face higher costs of production because of a fall in the supply of labour. This will reflect in an eventual increase in food prices.

  • It is unconscionable that daily wage labourers are paid less because of structural problems in the agricultural sector, which has been long neglected by the government. The solution to these problems is to sort out the flaws in the government’s agriculture policy and not to pay daily wage labourers less than minimum wage.
  • The minimum wage has not shown to have any proven direct effect on food price inflation. In the past the country experienced high inflation in food prices even when the minimum wage was Rs 73 or Rs 100.
  • The intention of increasing the wages paid under the MGNREGA is to improve the bargaining power of both – the workers employed under the MGNREGA as well as the workers employed in non MGNREGA work places like farms, informal segments of the economy. An increase in the wages paid under the MGNREGA will serve as the needed push for employers to increase the wages paid to those employed under them.
  • An increase in the wages paid to MGNREGA workers will increase their purchasing power. They will then spend a higher proportion of their income on consumption. This will further stimulate the market economy.
  • Important to understand that MGNREGA workers are not only landless labourers. Small and marginal farmers who find themselves unemployed during the lean season, also seek employment under the MGNREGA.
  • Respectable minimum wage under the MGNREGA will reign in distress migration to urban and semi-urban areas. This will prevent an excess supply of labour in urban areas and will prevent any sudden fall in their incomes.

 

Myth 2: The Government does not have enough resources to pay a higher minimum wage under the MGNREGA

In one year the Rajasthan State Government has paid Rs 2600 crores to Government employees in the form of a bonus. The government employees in the state constitute only 1% of the total population. If a minimum wage of Rs 135 was instead paid to around the 70 lakh households under the MGNREGA, the total cost would be Rs 1500 crores. This shows that the lack of resources in not the causal problem. It is the biased preferences of the government. We argue that both, the govt employees and the workers under the MGNREGA contribute towards nation building. And both of them face the same food prices whilst reeling under inflation and, if anything, the workers are hit harder by the high food prices since their incomes are lower. The satyagraha questions why the government wished to only focus on their employees and seek ways to protect them from the effects of market fluctuations. This satyagrtaha in no way attacks government employees by viewing them as an isolated section of the workforce. It only uses their case as an example to demonstrate the govt’s lack of response to only the plight of the poorest sections of the population.

 

Myth 3: MGNREGA is primarily the Central Government’s responsibility. The State Government does not have too much authority in this matter, so there is no point in pressurizing it.

Panchayats have been identified as the key implementing agencies under the MGNREGA. Implementation and monitoring efforts are directly under the ambit of the State Government. More importantly, the Supreme Court orders clearly dictate the State Governments to enforce the payment of the minimum wage (whose formulation is in power of the State Government). Any payment under the minimum wage to workers is considered as forced labour, as held by the Supreme Court decision in Sanjit Roy v. State of Rajasthan (1983).

 

Myth 4: MGNREGA is an option seen as the last resort for the rural poor. The government administration still speaks of the MGNREGA as a welfare scheme.

  • The right to employment is a constitutional entitlement. Even the SC recognizes the importance of the right to employment to ensure the people’s right to food.
  • All previous schemes of the State like SGSY, JRY, and Famine Relief have been converged and brought under the ambit of the MGNREGA.
  • The MGNREGA should not be seen as a dole or a pure cash transfer. Unlike the case with Britain’s social security system where the state’s revenue is going into paying huge sums of money as unemployment benefits, in the case of the MGNREGA people are being compensated for their contribution to nation building through the work sites they are employed in. In a dole or cash transfer the beneficiary is a passive recipient of government charity, which is not the case under the MGNREGA. The MGNREGA empowers citizens politically, requires them to be actively involved deciding which works are to be undertaking under the scheme (in gram sabhas), be vigilant about the implementation of the scheme (through social audits) and promotes a culture of transparency (by mandating proactive disclosure of records). The MGNREGA is not a dole and goes far beyond being a mere cash transfer. It is in fact a working example of a critique of passive cash transfers, which only encourage the beneficiaries to look at the government as a saviour or mai-baap. The MGNREGA encourage citizens to participate in governance and puts them on a far more equal footing viz-a-viz the government, thereby further enabling democracy.
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October 15, 2010

Open letters to elected representatives

The S. R. Abhiyan is writing to elected representatives seeking their support on the issues it is fighting for in the dharna.

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October 13, 2010

Sign the online petition appealing to the government to stop perpetuating forced labour

Click here to ‘Appeal to Government of India and State Governments to Stop Perpetuating Forced Labor’

Below is the text of the petition:

To: Government of India, State Governments

India’s celebrated landmark legislation, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005, was designed to provide a minimum level of income to all rural families while empowering them through a series of legal entitlements. However in an unconstitutional and deliberately callous decision, the Central Government has de-linked the wage paid to MGNREGA workers from minimum wage thus severely undermining the sanctity of the Minimum Wage Act, and attempting to legalize what the Supreme Court of India has declared to be “forced labour”.

In January 2009 the Central Government froze wages under this Act at Rs. 100 per day. Thus with time NREGA wages have fallen below minimum wages; and have also fallen in nominal terms with the unabated double digit food price inflation over the past year. Most state governments refuse to pay anything more than what the Center gives them and now several states (e.g., AP, Karnataka, Kerala, HP, Haryana, Rajasthan) are paying people working on MGNREGA work sites much below the minimum wage. In one of the more shocking examples, Rajasthan recently paid 99 workers in Tonk district one rupee a day after eleven days of work!

The Supreme Court, in three separate rulings, has held that non payment of minimum wages is tantamount to ‘forced labour’ prohibited under Article 23 of the Constitution. Further the Supreme Court holds that ‘forced labour’ may arise in several ways, including “compulsion arising from hunger and poverty, want and destitution”. Consequently the notification itself has been struck down as unconstitutional by the AP High Court and declared unconstitutional by the Additional Solicitor General, Government of India.

As per the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS) report on poverty, 77% (~836 million) of the population lives on less than Rs. 20 ($.50) per day. But tragically, this Act brought in to empower the poor and eradicate poverty is now undermining one of the most fundamental protections for workers in the unorganised sector. With this notification, it is obvious that the government itself is perpetuating poverty, and blatantly exploiting the poor. It is morally reprehensible that the Indian State should deny its own citizens the right and dignity of constitutionally mandated wages while it boasts of 8-9% GDP growth rate and exercises global influence (member, G20 and demanding a permanent UNSC seat) as an economic superpower.

This is to request you to please write to the Prime Minister, Minister of Rural Development, State Chief Ministers to immediately put a halt to the unconstitutional and inhumane payment of less than the statutory minimum wage to the poorest workers of the country employed on the celebrated MGNREGA program.

Aruna Roy, Bhanwar Meghwanshi, Hariom Soni, Moti Lal, Richa Odichya, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Ram Karan and R D Vyas, Naveen Narayan, Renuka Pamecha, Rawata Ram.
(On behalf of the Rozgar Evum Suchna ke Adhikar ka Abhiyan, Rajasthan)

Email: srabhiyan@gmail.com | Web: srabhiyan.wordpress.com

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

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October 9, 2010

Request to groups and people’s campaigns working on MGNREGA

9th October 2010

Dear Friends and colleagues,

As you may know the S. R. Abhiyan in Rajasthan had organized a Mazdoor Haq Yatra, which began on the 15th of September, 2010 culminating in an indefinite dharna called the Mazdoor Haq Satyagraha near the Statue Circle in Jaipur on October 2nd. The focus issues of the yatras and the satyagraha are – increase in minimum wages for workers, linking of minimum wages with the price index, ensuring implementation of minimum wages and timely payment of wages and effective implementation of social audits under the MGNREGA. However, the most immediate crisis is the unjustifiable and unconstitutional decision of the Central and State governments to delink minimum wages from the payment of wages under MGNREGA. It is completely unacceptable that the only protection unorganised sector workers have had for sixty years should be undermined and violated by another Act of Government. This will of course also undermine the MGNREGA.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) rests on two principal entitlements- 1) the entitlement to 100 days of work, 2) at minimum wages.  It is a combination of both entitlements that ensures a minimum level of income to the poorest rural families. In January 2009, through a notification the Central Government de-linked minimum wages from wages under the MGNREGA. As a result the “wage rates” have been frozen at Rs. 100 for almost two years. There are several instances across the country where people working on MGNREGA work sites are being paid less than the minimum wage. (AP, Karnataka, Kerala, HP, Haryana, and now Rajasthan for example). In Rajasthan even the “wage rate” arbitrarily fixed by government is systematically violated with people being paid as little as one rupee a day (as was the case of 99 workers from Tonk in Rajasthan). The average payment of Rs. 75 per paid in Rajasthan makes even the Rs. 100 a day a charade.

The Supreme Court has reiterated in several cases that any case of non payment of minimum wages amounts to ‘forced labour’. Tragically, an enactment based on empowering the poor and eradicating poverty is undermining one of the most fundamental protections enjoyed by the unorganised sector. Because of this notification, in the MGNREGA the government itself is perpetuating poverty, and blatantly exploiting the poor.

The S. R. Abhiyan is unwilling to let any employer (much less the government) undermine the sanctity of minimum wages for any worker in the state and country. The satyagraha will continue indefinitely until the demand for increase in minimum wages and effective implementation of social audits is addressed by the state government. On 30th October the SR Abhiyan proposes to organise a jansunwai in Jaipur (public hearing) on MGNREGA to look into the status of implementation of the ten entitlements under MGNREGA in Rajasthan.

The issue of minimum wages and effective implementation of MGNREGA is a national concern and affects all of us. We are making an appeal to all supporters and groups actively working for the effective uptake and implementation of MGNREGA to give time, spread the word, join the campaign to support what may turn out to be a long and decisive struggle for dignity and justice. We request groups and people’s campaigns working on MGNREGA across India to consider this crisis and:

a. Plan and organise agitations at their respective state and local levels.

b. Can we plan a national agitation in Delhi in November (after Diwali)?

c. At the same time can we also plan to organise a People’s Audit of MGNREGA? We suggest that the purpose of the People’s Audit be to discuss the sanctity of minimum wages and to fix wages for workers as well as to look into the status of the ten entitlements under MGNREGA in our states and share our experiences and the challenges faced in the implementation of MGNREGA.

All documents, press cuttings, daily press releases, photographs etc are available online at: srabhiyan.wordpress.com. Our contacts are given below. We look forward to seeing you at the Satyagraha.

Aruna Roy,  Bhanwar Meghwanshi, Hariom Soni, Moti Lal, Richa Odichya, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Ram Karan and R D Vyas, Naveen Narayan, Renuka Pamecha, Rawata Ram.

(On behalf of the Rozgar Evum Suchna ke Adhikar ka Abhiyan, Rajasthan)

Contact details:

Suchna evum Rozgar ka Adhikar Abhiyan (S R Abhiyan)
Address: 20, Narain Nagar, Badgaon, District  Udaipur, Rajasthan
Fax: +91 294 2451391
Email: srabhiyan@gmail.com

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October 8, 2010

Invitation to press conference on 8th Oct 2010

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October 2, 2010

Lyrics: “Roti Kaise Banati Hai” & “Gandhi Tere Desh Mein”

Lyrics

Roti Kaise Banati Hai

Gandhi Tere Desh Mein

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