“Bread & Roses Campaign” ahead of the February 27 Assembly polls

Shillong, Feb 14: On the occasion of the Valentine’s Day, the workers unions today released an 18-point ‘Working People’s Charter’ demanding for their rights as part of the “Bread & Roses Campaign” ahead of the February 27 Assembly polls in the state.

The Charter was presented along with an empty rice plate and a rose to various political parties both national and regional seeking their commitment towards fulfilling the various demands within February 20.

Increasing in minimum wages for all workers to a living wage of Rs 580 per day for unskilled or indexed to the central minimum wage is one of the main demands highlighted in the charter.

The Bread and Roses Campaign is being spearheaded by Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) and 13 workers unions and the hawkers association.

Addressing the media here on Wednesday, TUR leader Angela Rangad said, “The workers don’t only need “Bread” but they need dignity and a life full of possibilities.”

She said that the charter presented to the various political parties was to impress upon t hem a need to address labour question in Meghalaya and address these issues by way of strengthening and implementing already existing legal rights.

“There is also need for framing new policies and legislations for the protection and upliftment of the working people,” Rangad said.

Asked, she said that the political parties are demanded to give their commitments as to what they can do to address issues (if elected to power) within February 20. According to her, this was after seeing many manifestos have been silent towards this section of people.

“However, if they (political parties) fails to give their commitments, then it will be meaningless to give our votes to them especially when option of NOTA is also there. Now the ball is in their court,” she said.

According to the leaders, there are around 7000 to 8000 workers, who are members of the different working unions.

Asked, Rangad said that the new government should revise the minimum wages for all workers as it is now Meghalaya is the only the state which is providing a very low wage to the daily wage workers.

The strict implementation of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention,

Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is also another main demand of the workers besides implementing of the Equal Pay for Equal Work judgment.

The charter also seeks stopping of casualisation and contractualisation of jobs and also making Meghalaya Labour Rights friendly state.

They also demanded the immediate setting up of Meghalaya Workers’ Welfare Fund to support various social security and welfare schemes for the workers in Organised and Unorganised sector to be funded from the cess on industries and services in Meghalaya

According to the charter, the Meghalaya Reservation Policy should also be extended to private sector and Central government institutions in the state.

The District Council is also demanded to issue Trading Licenses to Private companies with the proviso that these companies shall follow Meghalaya Reservation Policy in employment.

The other demands include legislation of a Meghalaya Grievance Redressal Act with legally enforceable Citizens charters to ensure timely delivery of Public Service and implementation of the Central Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014.

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