LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT
PUSHBACK TIME IN BIHAR
They hit back, "and it felt good"
A public hearing on NREGA in a remote village in Bihar created a confrontation between a leader accused of corruption and the workers
who exposed him.
CURE WORSE THAN DISEASE
MGNREGA payments: bad to worse?
To check corruption, the Centre is routing funds through banks and POs. But this has resulted in delayed payments and loss of faith in
From fields to a BPO in 6 months
A first-of-its-kind women-only BPO started by 'Harva' in a Haryana village is all set to harness the rural talent while changing the
rigid mindset of the people.
Plugging the skills gap
There is a great shortage of people with employable skills. But vocational training is neither popular nor seen to be offering good job options.
A new twist to social audits
The district administration in Bihar's Araria district collaborates with a local people's organisation to conduct a social audit of the NREGS.
Making visible the invisible
It is relatively easy to legislate laws regarding domestic workers, as Maharashtra has just done with its recent bill on their welfare. But it's not
that easy to change attitudes.
NREGA: A fine balance
With better wages from the rural work guarantee, the bargaining power of the weakest has gone up a
notch. NREG work has been a lifejacket in the flood waters of the price rise. And no other program has had the positive impact on distress
migrations that it has achieved.
NREGA hits buses to Mumbai
The rural employment guarantee programme is life-saving. This time round, the poor have slightly more money than they did earlier. But all prices are up.
Social audit of jobs programme in UP
A unique strength of the NREGS is that citizens have the right to oversee its implementation, by direct scrutiny of its records.
provides daily updates on the progress of the social audit of the scheme in UP's Unnao district.
Regulating domestic work
The Domestic Worker's Bill, if passed, will be an important step toward securing the rights of a large chunk of
the unorganised workforce. But as with all laws, the real test of this legislation will be in its implementation, writes
Women and Laws
OIL WORKERS IN THE NORTH-EAST
Two classes, two unions
At the Guwahati IOC Refinery, labour is divided between organised and unorganised workers, with social and cultural factors at play too.
How do the unions handle complex issues? Is there a workers unity?
WOMEN IN THE EMERGING ECONOMY
From silence to voice, taking stock
How have SHGs empowered Indian women? What does the Global Gender-Gap
Report 2006 say about Indian women? These questions and many more were
addressed a recent international conference at Bangalore.
BELEAGURED GARMENT WORKERS
Lives strangulated by needle and thread
27-year-old Ratnamma, a garment factory worker, was forced to deliver a baby on
the streets of Bangalore. 20-year-old Gayathri was run over by the bus belonging to
the Bangalore garment factory where she worked. Garment workers in Bangalore are
caught in an exploitative web, reports
Wages of meddling
By and large, poorer and badly-run states like Bihar and Orissa have seen higher inflation resulting from the NREGA windfall,
while in the better-off states with less money flowing in through the scheme, inflation is much lower. Clearly,
meddling in markets will show up in ways that are not necessarily all good, writes
Villagers push for work benefits in Orissa
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is being implemented in
Orissa in stops and starts. But by pressing for information on NREGA benefits
using the sunshine law, citizens are able to hold officials accountable and are
able to remedy the situation by themselves in some cases.
It's been a hard day's night
Hundreds of women in Maharashtra's Gondia district travel from small towns to the villages to earn a daily wage.
Unlike most migrants, they are footloose workers from an urban setting seeking work in the villages.
At stations along the way are labour contractors, waiting to pick up workers on the cheap.
An independent voice for workers
With their long history of affiliation to political parties, unions have been unable to articulate the
interests of workers independently. Also, a narrow understanding of labour has made them irrelevant to the
majority of workers in the unorganised sector. A new formation proposes to tackle these failures.
SHIPBREAKING AND LABOUR
Beyond the Clemenceau's recall
The recall of the decommissioned French warship Clemenceau back to France
in the wave of protests worldwide opens a great opportunity for India to
clean its ship breaking yard in Alang, and improve conditions for its workers.
A thorough assessment of the facilities at Alang is much needed, notes
EXPORT PROCESSING ZONES
The high cost of 'easy' foreign exchange
A new sop came into effect for net-foreign exchange earning businesses in
designated export zones from February 10 -- a 15-year income tax holiday.
But are the costs of the revenues foregone worth the claimed benefits of
more investment and jobs?
examines the reality and does not find a rosy picture.
GDP planning: number crunching won't do
The budget reflects our continued affliction for numbers and the GDP growth rate.
It also follows the Prime Minister's insistence that planners shoot for higher growth
rates, especially on the back of an economy that has surprised everyone. But,
asks Sudhirendar Sharma,
will the juggling of numbers do it?
Bureaucracy stands in the way of benefits
Most villagers in U.P.'s Hardoi district, except for a miniscule few associated with social or political organizations, were not aware of the passage of the new Employment Guarantee Law last year. Since then, its coming into force in 22 districts of U.P. has not impressed them either.
French court rules, Clemenceau recalled
Ruling on a petition by French environmental groups and Greenpeace, France's conseil d'Etat (Supreme Court) suspended the decision to send the decommissioned warship Le Clemenceau to India for scrapping. Three days before his arrival in India on a brief visit, President Chirac ordered the recall.
finds out more.
EDITORIAL : MINIMUM WAGES
Too little, for too long
Minimum wage regulations continue to defy the very meaning of what the
wage is for. The original premise - wages for people to live with minimum
level of economic security, as well as dignity - is gone, its spirit lost
in myriad variables that rise from states, sectors, bureaucracies and
Minimised by the law
Neither the protections of law nor interventions by the Supreme Court have ensured adequate minimum wages
for the jobs performed by tens of millions of unorganised workers.
reports on a recent survey by a Bangalore-based group showing how far below fair standards these workers have been pushed.
LIVING WAGE DEMANDED
A new coalition backs garment workers
Even if activists and trade unions in India succeed in pushing up wage scales
in the garment industry, manufacturers are likely to point out that with higher
labour costs and hence billing, the high profit global retail buyers would shift
their business to cheaper nations like Bangladesh or Indonesia. Is there a way out?
finds out more.
RURAL EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE
An autonomous NREG Agency needed
The current shape of government is too distributed to tackle the scale
and complexity of the rural employment guarantee.
A National-level autonomous body should be created solely for implementing
the NREGA, and this agency should have the necessary authority,
in addition to the responsibility, to
manage the implementation, says
BREAKING DOWN TOXIC SHIPS
Junkyard justice at Alang
The Clemenceau has set sail for India, and the spotlight is on the ship-breaking industry at Alang, where workers'
safety takes a last-row seat and owners operate without fear of regulatory enforcement or punishment.
writes that the toxic cargo presents an opportunity to reverse this tide of disgrace.