Bijolia begins again every October

Every year, the mines slows down and stops at the onset of monsoon, and then resume after harvest. Right now, the stone pits are still full of green water from the rains.
The work is on pause for everyone to return from home after Diwali. Many young men, a few women whose homes are nearby, who did not leave, sit around tea shops, and in the common spaces waiting. But it feels strange. When they speak, it is as if not like the mood of a break or rest, as they wait for the full mine operation to start in another fifteen days. Over and over, it is a: What, but this. This sucks, this kills but this, if they will just increased our wage but this. Maybe I was missing something, but they seemed to be saying, this work seems to ruin everyone’s lives when it exists, and yet even the last resort is ruined if our work is replaced by machines. In the evening, returning from the conversations at tea shops and squares, it seemed like I had been talking to pools of distressed, tied down to stones, in pain people over and over.
Though in late afternoon sun, slumped by the temple wall, Nand Lal Bhil and Ratan ji Bhil cracked one joke after another about Nand Lal’s impending death. “I almost left the house, then I got stuck in the hedges and came back,” Nand Lal grinned. “But I have a ticket (Silicosis certificate) from the Government. At any point, I may have to leave again..”
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Nand Lal had worked in the mines breaking stones for the same contractor forty years, since he was ten, till he fell too ill to work. He was treated for tuberculosis for five years. A year and a half back, the hospital diagnosed him with silicosis. “I had energy, enthusiasm, health, everything. Then one day life took it all, like grime from skin.”
“This is how disease, death befalls.” he said.
“It strikes you, like lightening.”
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How to cheat workers of minimum wages

Delhi Metro workers losing crores in wages; allotted fake Provident Fund accounts by contractors

Workers hired through multiple contractors by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) are denied their minimum wages by employers who have allotted fake Provident Fund and health insurance accounts to siphon off their money. Questioned about this, officials said that while they were aware of the workers’ complaints, they had not yet blacklisted any company, despite the fact that the Delhi Metro paid a share of the workers’ PF, which runs into crores, as part of contractors’ bills.

The DMRC employs over 4,900 workers through more than 19 contractors to work as ticket-vending operators, security guards and housekeepers who clean and sweep metro stations. Workers like those employed by Bedi & Bedi Pvt. Ltd. say when they made inquiries about their provident fund, they found their employer had allotted them fake account numbers. Inquiries at the government health insurance office at Kishanganj by 25 employees showed that Bedi & Bedi had not contributed Rs. 25 lakh — including Rs. 6.8 lakh deducted from workers’ salary — to the funds. Fourteen of the 25 workers had been allotted numbers which did not exist in government records.

Guards, sweepers at Acme Enterprises, A2Z Securities, and even workers hired by Prehari Security Services as guards outside the DMRC office in Connaught Place also said they still do not have PF or health insurance accounts and contractors continue to pilfer over a fourth of their wages this way. They say housekeepers who sweep and metro stations are treated the worst.

Documents obtained by Delhi Metro Kamgaar Union through Right to Information (RTI) applications showed that Keshav Security Services, a company similar to Bedi & Bedi, and also the largest supplier of housekeepers to DMRC, allotted two different PF account numbers to workers in 2009 and 2010. Calculating PF contributions at the rate of the 24 per cent of Rs. 7254 per month, the minimum wage for unskilled workers, about Rs. 1.26 crore is siphoned off in a year from just 607 employees. “The company keeps two accounts — one for DMRC records and a separate register where they keep our accounts. I have worked here for eight years since the Metro started, but never heard of anyone getting their PF funds,” said a worker who took part in the strike at 11 stations on the Blue Line on October 13.

Read the full report here.. In response to The Hindu’s report, the Provident Fund Commissioner’s office in Delhi began a probe into this wage theft on December 3, 2012. A follow-up report here.

Maruti restarts production at Manesar, workers protest at Jantar Mantar

Maruti restarts production at Manesar, workers protest at Jantar Mantar

Bigul Mazdoor Dasta who work with thread-makers from Karawal Nagar and with Delhi Metro workers protest against dismissal of Maruti workers at Jantar Mantar. Maruti restarted production after hiring 100 additonal security guards. 21 August 2012

A video I shot in February when Maruti workers declared their union at Maruti Suzuki India Limited’s Manesar plant in Haryana.

My recent posts on Kafila on Maruti, and other instances of workers-employers’ conflict in Delhi-Gurgaon region are here and here.

The less visible production chain

the less visible production chain

One of 1000s of workshops that make small parts for Maruti in Faridabad New Town in Haryana. This electroplating unit employs six people. A worker who has been working here since 11 years says he earns Rs 4500 a month. 14 August 2012