LABOUR SNIPPETS - September 2023



Gangavaram Port Workers Protest

In August 2023, port workers of Adani Gangavaram Port at Vishakhapatnam organized a protest seeking an increase in the wages of contract workers to Rs. 36,000. Nearly 600 workers who took part in the protest stated that their salaries have not increased in the past 14 years and the workers have been experiencing economic hardships due to the same. These workers were employed in the port from the nearby fishing villages as part of the rehabilitation package when their lands were acquired to construct the port. However, the workers claim that those employees who were not hired as part of the rehabilitation package have a higher basic salary, whereas those hired under the package receive a basic pay of Rs. 3,700 with a maximum net salary of Rs. 18,000. The Port Employees Union have stated that those who were not active in the protest which has been going on for over 45 days have received an increment of Rs. 1,500. On August 17th, the police lathi-charged the workers to disperse them, and several police personnel were injured. The protest continues at the site of the port.

Urban Company Workers Protest Job Losses

Workers of Urban Company across Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata went on a nation-wide protest against the arbitrary blocking of IDs, which is resulting in job losses, even when the workers are having to cancel orders for legitimate reasons of medical and personal emergencies. The workers also demanded elimination of multiple rating systems, lowering minimum rating threshold, fixing of hub area radius where partners are expected to travel for jobs, removal of automatic product scanning and ordering, one day holiday for workers, along with security net and taking consent from the workers before bringing in new rules, among other such demands. Several unions organising gig-workers stated that the workers must be provided with job guarantee, social security and a law to protect the labour rights of the gig and platform workers.


Amazon India To Pay Severance To Workers

When the warehouse – Del3 – an Amazon seller services facility in Sonepat closed down all of a sudden, hundreds of workers were rendered unemployed overnight. The facility did not provide an alternate employment nor paid the dues of the workers before closing down. These workers were employed through an agency. Despite all odds, the workers resorted to a mass protest which forced the facility management to pay severance packages. The workers’ protest forced a powerful company such as Amazon, their principal employer, to ensure their rights are upheld.

Heat Stress Poses Health Risks For Salt Pan Workers

A study titled ‘Occupational Heat Stress and Kidney Health in Salt Pan Workers’, conducted by Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research in Tamil Nadu has found that salt pan workers reported heat-strain symptoms. This contributed to a severe increase in heat stress levels, which included symptoms like sweating, thirst, dizziness, muscle cramps, headache, nausea/vomiting, fainting, prickly heat rashes, etc. About 93% of the workers reported these symptoms. This has impacted the heart rate, core body temperature, urine characteristics, sweat rate and kidney functioning of the workers. About 23% of the women stated that they could hydrate themselves better if the access to toilets is made better. The study recommended that the workplace needs to provide access to water, rest in shade, better sanitation facilities and awareness on hydration.


‘Trading Welfare Benefits For Higher Wages’

A study conducted by ‘Quess’ on the aspirations of India’s informal economy post-pandemic, titled ‘New Collar Generation Report’ has found that 93% of the 4,000+ respondents in the study are willing to trade-off social security and healthcare benefits for higher wages. On the other hand, 97% of them agreed that they will have a better chance at improving their lifestyle and that of their families if they had formal employment or job security, as opposed to their contractual employment. However, about 80% of them stated that they expected their employers to provide them with ESI benefits. The study states that a majority of the workers are still without any social security coverage and aspire to move into an inclusive, secure lifestyle. ‘New Collar’ defines a generation of workers whose priorities and aspirations are converging with those of formal employees, and who value security and benefits over their daily wages. Informal workers are defined as the ones who do not have formal contracts, may or may not have financial inclusion and no social security benefits from their employer.

47% Workers Don't Feel Secure In Their Jobs: Survey

A study conducted by ADP Research Institute’s ‘People at Work 2023: A Global Workforce View’ has found that 47% of employees in India, which is a cause for concern. Workers in real estate sector, construction and related employments experienced highest levels of job insecurity, whereas workers in global media and information industry expressed a lack of job security, followed by hospitality and leisure sector. Over 32,000 workers took part in the survey, wherein 60% of them indicated their willingness to consider working unpaid hours to enhance security of their jobs!

Nearly 6% Of Contract Workers Lost Jobs In March Quarter

The Indian Staffing Federation, a body constituting 120 recruitment agencies across the country, stated that nearly 6% or 3,600 workers lost jobs between January and March 2023. A report by JP Morgan analysts said that soaring inflation, supply chain issues and the Ukraine war is expected to bring an end to the growth boom that the IT sector enjoyed so far, even through the pandemic. The unemployment rate in April rose to 8.11%, whereas 1,77,000 were added in 2022-23 financial year as compared to 2,30,000 in the previous financial year. With massive job cuts in the IT sector, especially of contract employees, this is a cause for concern.

Court Rules Against Uber, For Workers In California

In 2019, Erik Adolph, an UberEats driver sued his company on behalf of a large group of workers seeking work-related expenses to be reimbursed to the workers. Adolph, in his petition, stated that UberEats drivers were misclassified as ‘independent contractors’, rather than employees. It is said that the drivers signed an agreement to bring their grievances into private arbitration. However, as per the Private Attorney General Act, a unique legislation in California that allows workers to sue for employment law violations on behalf of the State and keep one-quarter of any money they win, with the rest going to a state fund to enforce labour laws, the Supreme Court of California has ruled that nothing bars workers from pursuing claims on their own behalf in arbitration, while separately also litigating large-scale claims in court. This paves way for large-scale lawsuits against employers in California, and is a big victory for the workers.