On the 24th of August 2016, we began an indefinite strike at the District Collector’s Office. We had 5 main demands:
- Lack of payment of unemployment benefits across Panchayats affiliated with SPSS.
- Delayed payments of NREGA wages in some Panchayats and lack of new NREGA work.
- Women workers of Dumri Panchayat, Musahari Block, were paid only INR 91 per day for work done under the NREGA, nearly half the daily stipulated wage. We demanded an investigation and an increase to the stipulated INR 177.
- Setting up of a ration shop in Mahant Maniyari, after the suspension of the license of the previous PDS dealer, Kedar Ram.
- Setting up of a ration shop in Ward No. 5 of Ratnauli.
As of today (23rd October), the two demands related to ration shops have been met. Most delayed payments have come through, but there is no talk of compensation for delays, a clause mentioned in the NREGA Act. Two demands – that relating to the under-payment of wages for workers from Dumri and the payment of unemployment benefits have not been met at all.
Here are some highlights:
1. August, 24th: The Dharna begins.
2. By September 4th, the district administration had taken care of two of our demands, workers celebrated.
3. By October 1st, we had reached Day 40 and the DDC announced that the workers of Dumri wouldn’t be compensated because the measurements of the road built had not been pre-labeled and that, therefore, it was impossible to take the workers’ word on the fact that they had worked full days.
Day 42 came and we continued to emphasize our other demands – unemployment benefits, compensation for delayed wages.
… Day 45:
4. Finally, on Day 52, we suspended our dharna for 17 days, till after the Diwali and Chhat festivities.