The Delhi High Court recently struck down the minimum wages Notification which had been issued after a long struggle. This unfortunate decision has brought the lives of lakhs of workers in Delhi under a dark cloud of uncertainty. Already oppressed by factory owners’ whims and government neglect, the Court’s verdict has dealt a shattering blow to the workers.
The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) which comes under the Delhi government has gone several steps further than even the court and has issued a circular reducing the wages of all contract workers. Legally, wages cannot be even one rupee less than the minimum wage. The DTC management is saying that it will now reduce the salary which had been given till last month, whereas the High Court has not given any directive to reduce existing wages. The circular to reduce wages goes outside the ambit of the law and is an attack on the workers’ rights. The Supreme Court had said clearly in the Punjab vs. Jagjit Singh (2017) verdict that ‘equal pay for equal work’ is the right of every worker, but even so many days after that verdict equal pay for equal work has not been implemented in government departments/institutions like DTC.
The DTC Workers Unity Centre affiliated to AICCTU protested against this anti-workers move and burnt copies of the circular outside several DTC depots in protest against the autocratic behavior of the government and DTC management. Contract workers participated in huge numbers in the protests at the depots. Carrying the struggle forward, about 10,000 contract workers went on leave on 26 August 2018; this is the biggest step taken by DTC workers against the DTC management and the Delhi government so far. The DTC management had to call regular workers of both shifts in the morning shift, but the plying of DTC buses on the roads of Delhi could not run smoothly despite this. Sharpening the protests, DTC workers came to work on 5 September wearing black bands and observed the day as Protest Day. Along with their demands the DTC workers have also extended support to the Haryana Roadways workers’ strike to be held on 5 September.