Thousands of women from all across India marched to Parliament on Friday demanding parity in wages and benefits like maternity leave for women in the informal sector.
Addressing a rally of women, Sarojini Acharya from Sambalpur (Orissa) said, “Women tobacco workers get Rs 45 for rolling 1,000 bidis. The officials concerned take cuts from that amount, too. We demand that women should get Rs 100 for 1,000 bidis.”
“The government and even the tobacco companies earn handsome revenue, but women are left in pathetic conditions.”
Acharya was not alone in voicing concern of women with similar problems. Thousands of women from the informal sector, both public and private enterprises, marched to the Parliament from Ram Lila Maidan under the banner of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) with demands like equal wages, social security and maternity benefits.
With red flags and banners, the women shouted slogans like ‘barabar kaam barabar daam (equal pay for equal work)’, and ‘maternity benefits sabko ho’ (maternity benefits for all) etc.
AITUC has suggested levying of a cess on industry to create a maternity benefit fund for women workers from the unorganised sector, Gurudas Das Gupta, AITUC general secretary and MP, said. A delegation met the PM, “who assured us that he will ‘examine the demands’ while the Finance Minister agreed our demands are justified,” said Gupta.