Police and employers together threaten union activists for organizing brick kiln workers in Bhilwara Rajasthan

Madan Vaishnav, Secretary, Rajasthan Pradesh Int Bhatta Majdoor Union, along with three other union organizers – Shanti Lal Meena, Ratan Lal Bheel, and Shaitan Singh Raigar – was served a notice by the Sub Division Officer Mandal under Section 107/116 restraining him from undertaking provocative activities viz. organizing brick kiln workers. Mandal town has almost 100 brick kilns in its vicinity mostly employing inter-state seasonal migrants from UP and Bihar. The Rajasthan Pradesh Int Bhatta Majdoor Union was registered last year to organize these workers so that they can get minimum wages and other rights. Last year the workers had gone on a strike for three days demanding higher wages. During the strike the owners had attacked a procession of workers. Finally there was a settlement leading to higher wages.

This year, the Union has given a call for a public meeting on 25th January. It is currently meeting workers who also stay at the brick kilns. This year the employers have erected large brick walls around their kilns virtually imprisoning the workers. On 18th January, when the Union team went to a brick kiln to meet the workers, the brick kiln owner got very upset. He collected a large number of employers who then went to the police station Mandal and lodged a complaint making allegations that Union is instigating the workers. The police regsitered a case under section 107 and 116 restraining the union activists from doing any unlawful activity. The owners also gave a memorandum to the local SDM saying that permission should not be given for holding the meeting on 25th. The Union has also given memorandum to the police and district authorities seeking protection during the meeting.

Overall the situation remains tense. The brick kiln owners want to make sure that the public meeting does not succeed. They are likley to adopt all possible measures. Probability of violence against union team also looms large.