6 February, 2024In January, an Indian court ruled in favour of 650 precarious workers employed at Bokaro Power Supply Company when it endorsed the decision of the industrial tribunal granting the payment of attendance allowance from October 2009 onwards.
Precarious contract workers at Bokaro Power Supply Company (BPSC) are members of Jharkhand Krantikari Mazdoor Union (JKMU), affiliated to IndustriALL through Unions United. JKMU have been fighting a long legal battle for the payment of Additional Welfare Amenities (AWA) in the form of attendance allowance of INR1000 (US$12) per month to contract workers of BPSC. This is the same amount paid to contract workers at SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited) Bokaro plant, on the same premises as BPSC.
On 22 February 2017, the industrial tribunal ruled in favour of JKMU by calling the non-payment of AWA to contract workers of BPSC, discriminatory and unjustified. The court ruled that the BPSC management must pay its contract workers the same amount that is paid to those at SAIL plant, as both plants are at one location and BPSC is the sole electricity provider to the steel plant. The court ruled that the steel plant will be paralyzed without the BPSC power plant. The court directed BPSC to pay its contract workers a monthly attendance allowance of INR1000 (US$12) starting from October 2009.
On 3 January 2024, the High Court of Jharkhand supported the decision of the industrial tribunal, setting aside its earlier judgement which was in favour of BPSC management. Each contract worker of BPSC is now entitled to the payment of INR172,000 (US$2,071). The value of the agreed monthly amount has almost halved since 2009 due to inflation.
Gautam Mody, convener of Unions United and member of IndustriALL’s executive committee, says:
“Contract workers are not recognized by employers and are subjected to the whims and delays of the legal system denying them union rights. They have no right to collective bargaining and are not covered by the CBAs for permanent workers. They are discriminated against in every sense of the term.”
Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary, says:
“IndustriALL salutes the struggle of Jharkhand Krantikari Mazdoor Union. We stand shoulder to shoulder with all contract workers of Bokaro Power Supply. We believe that the fight against precarious work is not the fight of precarious workers alone, it’s the fight of the entire working class.”