With his eye set firmly on the upcoming civic polls, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, on Sunday, raked up the long pending issue of housing for mill workers and for slumdwellers on airport land at the National Front of India Trade Unions (NFITU) national conference in Airoli.
“At least 4,000 houses constructed on mill land are lying vacant, but not distributed. Similarly, 3,000-4,000 houses are ready on airport land. The state government should distribute these housing stocks,” Pawar said.
Mill workers comprise a significant vote bank in the island city and their housing issue has suddenly blipped on the radar of all political parties.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had recently clarified in the state assembly that out of the 1 lakh mill workers, around 20,000 could be accommodated but this would not be free of cost.
Pawar also announced 10,000 houses for mathadi workers. “I have directed CIDCO chairman Pramod Hindurao to ensure 10,000 houses for Mathadi workers within a month. They should be given constructed tenements or land to build houses,” Pawar said.
NFITU, one of the twelve national trade unions, was recently revived by the NCP in a bid to challenge the Congress controlled Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).
Pawar is NFITU’s chief patron and has asked all NCP trade unions to be affiliated to it. These include the mathadi workers union and mill workers unions led by NCP leaders like Ganesh Naik and Sachin Ahir.
In the run-up to the polls, the NCP is keen on diversifying its traditional vote bank and is wooing all marginalised sections of society.
Govindrao Adik, general secretary of NFITU, said, “This organisation is not formed to defeat or compete with other similar organisations. It is only to unite all workers and labourers and give them a single platform to voice their concerns.
“We realised such an organisation was necessary to ensure the development of the state.”
“We will ask all workers to join NFITU instead of INTUC as this organisation will give them justice,” said DR Patil, NCP leader in state transport (ST) union. Prior to the open workers meeting, NFITU representatives held close door meetings in which 19 resolutions were discussed as well as approved.