UP Invokes ESMA for Six Months

The BJP government of Uttar Pradesh, led by Yogi Adityanath, has invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), essentially imposing a ban on strikes and protests across the state. This comes in the wake of the farmers protest in Haryana and Punjab announced by farmers’ organisations. The notice issued by the state government states that if any employee is found in a strike or is taking part in any protest, they would be arrested immediately without any warrant or any charges on violating the Act. Activists have stated that ESMA has been invoked for the past 10 years. Every year in January, a new ESMA notification is issued which is valid for six months, and then again in July it is extended for the next six months, they stated. Unions in power sector, pensioners, and others have condemned this move to suppress democratic voices and stated that this will not stop them from continuing their fight for rights.

Transport Workers Strike Across the Country

Transport workers across the country have been striking work as a protest against the provision in the new criminal laws that impose 10 years jail term and fine of Rs. 7 lakh in hit-and-run cases. They have been demanding the provision to be withdrawn. Thousands of transport workers protested in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh in various forms including the sit-in protest. Workers in Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu joined protests. All forms of public transport, including buses, trucks, auto rickshaws, e-rickshaws and tankers, excluding ambulance, school vans and government vehicles, have been part of the protest.

Workers Protest at Apple Inc. Supplier Plant

Hundreds of workers at the Tamil Nadu plant of Flex – a company manufacturing chargers for Apple Inc., held a day-long protest demanding higher wages and recognition of union. About 4,000 workers are employed in the plant. Only 750 are permanent workers and the rest are contract workers. The workers are fighting for their dues and demanding increase in wages for high inflation and increase in basic expenditure like house rent, education fees, etc. It maybe recollected that in December 2021, thousands of young women workers at Foxconn's iPhone assembly plant in Tamil Nadu blocked the Chennai – Bangalore highway demanding improved working and living conditions and decent employment. In Karnataka’s Wistron iPhone assembly plant, hundreds of workers went on a strike demanding pay parity for the factory’s new employees. The same plant had witnessed protests regarding wage theft by the management and severe violation of labour laws, which led to the management and police incarcerating hundreds of young workers.

Garment Workers Seek Hike in Minimum Wages

Thousands of garment workers in Tamil Nadu held a protest outside the Labour Commissioner’s office seeking an increase in the minimum wages, which at present ranges from Rs. 9,875 for the lowest category to Rs. 10,514 per month for the highest category. The workers stated that the minimum wages have not been revised for the past 10 years, even as the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, stipulates for revision once in every five years.

In 2016, the Madras High Court upheld a wage notification and directed textile manufacturers to pay the revised minimum wages immediately along with inflation-linked allowances and back wages from December 2014. However, the manufacturers chose to appeal to the Supreme Court, which then directed the Tamil Nadu government to revise the wages for the last nine years and to initiate corrective measures. With the new minimum wages, the monthly wages will be in the range of Rs. 15,211 and Rs. 16,379. The protesting garment workers were demanding the same wages.


NMMC Contract Workers to go on Hunger Strike


Thousands of contract workers employed with the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation will go on a hunger strike demanding pay parity. The workers expressed that despite the adoption of the ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work’ policy in 2007, in reality, pay parity remains on paper only. The workers demanded i) the implementation of equal pay for equal work with retrospective effect from November 2007, ii) the pump operators, welders, multi-purpose workers, gardeners and insecticide spraying and chemical fumigation workers to be brought under the skilled category iii) ensuring equal wage increase for permanent and contract workers in future iv) extending all the benefits provided to permanent workers to contract workers including gratuity, earned leave, medical leave, compensatory leave, reimbursement of medical expenses, provident fund, uniforms, etc.


Public Transport Workers Protest in Germany


Verdi, a public transport workers’ union in Germany, called for a strike action across the country, demanding more appointments to overcome severe labour shortage, table pending wage negotiations, provide longer break time and holidays, among others. Buses and trams came to a halt for 24 hours with shorter strike period in the capital city of Berlin. Workers and ground staff at Hamburg airport halted work too. It has been stated that the average age of employees in the transport sector is 55 years, and owing to labour shortage there is work overload on the older employees.


Finland Workers Protest Labour Reforms


Close to three lakh workers held a two-day strike on February 1st and 2ndin Finland against the labour market reforms and cuts in social welfare by the right-wing government led by Prime Minister Petteri Orpo. Workers stated that instead of consulting and negotiating with the workers and trade unions, the government was forcing the implementation of the labour reforms and has irked lakhs of workers. The strikes shut down kindergardens and pre-schools, disrupted air traffic and postal services, closed public transport and shut down factories across the country, along with grocery stores, hotels and restaurants. The trade unions of Finland have stated that they are up for a long fight with more strikes in the pipeline, if the government doesn’t back down.