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The massive minimum wage protests at Parliament St, what does it mean

Workers and labourers from across the country gathered at the protest to demand better wages and end to contract labour laws

Thousands of people protested at Parliament Street in New Delhi from November 9 to November 11 against the ‘anti-worker, anti-farmer and anti-national policies of the Central government’.

Ten central trade unions from across India participated in the mass relay dharna ‘Mahapadav’ that lasted three days to press for their 12-point charter of demands. The unions also emphasised on how demonetisation had caused several industries to shut down, thereby affecting wages of workers. They also said that the ‘hastily implemented’ GST had led to price rise.

Workers and labourers from across the country gathered at the protest to demand better wages and to end contract labour laws. Among the protesters were accredited social health activists (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers, construction labourers, tea estate employees, chowkidars and mid-day meal cooks.

Also present at the rally was Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, who said, “Workers are making a reasonable demand… they should get minimum wage. This protest is a warning to the government.”

Here’s a tweet by Kavita:

Massive gathering of scheme workers, 1000s of women workers flooding Parliament Street on 3rd day of Trade Union Dharna. Shame that media is blacking this out. Is this any less deserving of coverage than the anti-corruption gathering was? pic.twitter.com/NA6mG98AYp

— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) November 11, 2017

According to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the 12-point charter demands universal social security cover for all workers, minimum wages of not less than Rs 15,000 per month with provisions of indexation, payment of same wage and benefits for contract workers as regular workers, enhanced pension of not less than Rs 3,000 and universalisation of public distribution system among others.

Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar had called the trade unions on November 7 to drop the protests and said that the government was committed to labour reforms.

The unions said that they had no choice but to stage dharnas as the ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not discuss their 12-point charter since August 2015.

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