Blaming the indifference of the government towards the plight of mathadis (workers who carry loads on their head), the Maharashtra Rajya Mathadi Transport and General Kamgar Union has called for an indefinite strike from Monday.
The decision will result in around 85,000 mathadi workers in the districts of Thane, Mumbai, Raigad, Nashik, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Satara and Kolhapur striking work.
This will affect all wholesale markets where mathadis load and unload consignments.
The union claims that mathadis have been facing numerous problems for years and despite repeated appeals to the state government, they have not got any positive response. They say they were left with no option.
Nationalist Congress Party MLA Shashikant Shinde, who is the working president of the Union, said, “The state government has always shown indifference towards the problems of Mathadis with respect to their basic needs.”
He explained, “There are around 1,500 houses in Koparkhairane and Ghansoli, which were specially built for the mathadis.
However, even after six years, these houses have not been allotted to the Mathadis. They are lying vacant.
“We have been following up with the Maharashtra labour board. The government knows the plight of mathadis. We cannot tolerate this apathy,” Shinde said.
He added, “We have also been demanding proper personal and job security for mathadis. They should get jobs when they shift to other places. Often they are left without any livelihood as they are not absorbed at new places.”
Giving further details of the demands, Narendra Patil, general secretary of the union said, “We want amendments in mathadi laws, as a number of our problems are being overlooked by the existing law. We have been raising our voices for it for the last ten years, but nothing has been done so far.”
He added, “Even the mathadi advisory board was dissolved ten years ago due to some technical reasons. The government has not shown any interest for the welfare of these people. Hence, we have decided to go on an indefinite strike to press for our demands.”
Shinde said, “Despite the fact that I am a part of the government, I morally support this strike, as it is the only option left in front of us to attract the attention of the authorities.”