On 8th Nov 2018, contract workers from Badarpur Thermal Power Station (BTPS) marched in a rally from Mandi House to Parliament Street. Mazdoor Ekta Committee (MEC) led the march for their rights.
The workers demanded that a notice about closure of BTPS should be issued and they should be given adequate compensation, alternative livelihood and resettled in the national capital of Delhi; they demanded that they should be paid their wages and that outstanding dues immediately and all contract workers should be given experience certificates.
It is a fact that Badarpur Thermal Power Station is being closed down. The Power Plant has been cited as a reason for the growing pollution in Delhi. Slogans of ‘BTPS workers demand justice’ and ‘Inquilab zindabad’ were reverberating through the air as the rally culminated in a public meeting at Parliament Street.
Addressing the meeting, OP Gupta, retired BTPS trade union member and advocate said that presently employed contract workers had not been issued any notice of closure of BTPS. More than 400 contract workers have been working in BTPC for many years. Many of them are technically trained and are engineering graduates. Till now, the management has terminated the services of more than 250 workers without giving any prior notice, compensation or payment of dues. He said that as per the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, this institution cannot be closed down without following due legal procedures. Hence its closure is illegal and the management should be held responsible for violation of the law and is punishable.
On behalf of MEC, Santosh Kumar said that the government is either closing down public sector enterprises or handing them over to capitalists as part of its liberalisation and privatisation policy. They have not been hiring new recruits on a permanent basis to fill posts of permanent workers who retired or passed away. Currently, the number of permanent workers is very low. The government has instead been hiring workers on a contract basis to fill empty posts.
Contract workers are being hired to perform regular and routine tasks in BTPS. These workers are paid minimum wage and doubly exploited by their contractors and the government; they are denied leave and any social welfare benefits.
Dhirendra Sharma, Secretary of AITUC and Anurag Saxena, Secretary of CITU both addressed the gathering and expressed solidarity with the demands of BTPS workers. They reiterated the demand to grant contract workers with due compensation and resettle them with adequate wages.
At the end of the meeting, a representative committee submitted a memorandum of their demands to RK Singh, Union Minister of State for Power, and Santosh Kumar, Union Minister of State for Labour. The workers decided that they would jointly plan the next step in their struggle.