As part of the IndustriALL/FNV Shipbreaking Project ‘Organizing Metalworkers in Shipbreaking Industry’, a two-day workshop on labour laws was held in Mumbai on 21-22 November.
The 28 participants at the workshop learned more about workers' legal rights. Vidyadhar Rane, President of the SMEFI, gave a presentation on National/ International Laws and Guidelines/ Convention for shipbreaking workers, Sudhakar Apraj, Secretary HMS Maharashtra gave an insight on major articles on the Factories Act and the Industrial Dispute Act, citing a few examples on companies imposing several penalties under the Standing Order Act.
S Sawant, Director Ambekar Institute of Labour Studies, stressed the importance of implementing a living wage, and S M Fahimuddin Pasha made an overview of Indian Labour Laws, as well as describing the plight of the migrant workers and their legal rights. Geetanjoy Sahu, Assistant Professor, TISS presented an in-depth case study on hazardous industry with special reference to the shipbreaking industry. Vikas Nalawade, treasurer of the ASSRGWA emphasized the need to organise and the importance of the regular submission of membership fees for the sustainability of the organization.
Workers raised a number of problems in an open discussion, including the fact that as many employers do not declare the company name on the job cards given to workers they can escape legal obligations. In many cases contractors do not have the authorised licence for recruiting migrant workers. Together, these illegal practices worsen the workers' situation. The ASSRGWA and MPTDGEU (unions working in Alang and Mumbai) will follow up on both issues and demand authorities to intervene to protect the social and legal rights of the shipbreaking workers.