BONDED LABOUR SYSTEM ABOLITION ACT and Role of NASC
NASC Goal in Bonded Labour System Abolition Act (BLA) in relation with Tribal/Adivasi/Indigenous Communities
- Strengthen bonded labour laws to better address and prevent bonded labour.
- Ensure greater government enforcement of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act.
- Educate workers and general public on the constitutional rights, UDHR, ILO and on BLA.
- Educating the tribal communities/workers/labours/general public and concern government officers about the need of prevalence and severity of bonded labours in various areas;
- Enforcing for proper implementation of the BLA Act 1976 along with all sections/rules;
- Advocating with state for developing an action plan/handbook to address bonded labour;
- Lobbying with state authorities and district level officers for designating a special officer as per the Act to specifically address bonded labour;
- Organising national campaign for bringing specific amendments to the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act and advocating for implementation in all states;
- Activating and strengthening the Vigilance Committees to accountable on their duties and functions starting from survey, identification, rescue, release, rehabilitation and follow-up.
NASC STRATEGIES IN IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS:-
1. Grassroots Mobilization:-
Grassroot mobilization is the form peoples’ organisation at the bottom level as a rights-based independent group which is kind of rebel movement against inequality in the society. This type of association will work towards social justice and advocate for proper implementation of laws and policies for all citizens up to the corner every village. Our grassroot mobilization strategies will fight against all forms of bonded labour systems. This will ensure for the proper implementation of important laws such as Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, Prevention of Atrocities on SC/STs Act, Human Rights Protection Act, Minimum Wages Act and the Forest Rights Act (land & livelihood rights). This process of mobilization of people at the grassroot level for justice & equality will create changes in the political pyramid and will activate the judiciary and bureaucracy systems towards people’s rights in-line with Constitutional Provisions which will lead towards positive results with mass action at various levels. Some of the specific activities are follows;-
- All NASC team members along with community leaders will collect signatures from 70,000 people from the month of April 2012 to December 2012 by creating awareness through dialogue, distribution of bit-notices, posters and in the public gatherings meetings on the issue of bonded labour system.
- We will involve the general public, youth, workers, women, government employees, farmers associations, media people and volunteers from 2 States, 7 Districts, 27 Taluks, 45 Blocks and 534 Villages in the process of signature campaign with mass action. The consolidated document will be submitted to the correct government officials during the state-level conferences and that will bring the outcome.
- We will conduct people’s meetings and seminars for enforcing the BLSA Act 1976 and fight against discrimination on poor and tribal people with the expression of injustice through mass meetings, signature campaign, rally and processions and other forms of demonstrations. Such gatherings will become as protest action of the grassroot communities.
- We will organize systematic advocacy & lobbying activities with vibrant people’s campaign to enforce the BLA act and for binging needed amendments in the Act.
2. Capacity-building Trainings
As part of the program, we need to build capacity of the staff team and community leaders to increase their skills and competence to challenge the discrimination and bonded labour systems in India. Through organised and systematic training programmes and workshops, we develop skills, knowledge and capacities to understand the issues of bonded labourers, attitude of owners, approach of government officers, preparing them on fact-finding, documentation, reporting, education on provisions of laws such as Bonded Labourers System (Abolition) Act, Prevention of Atrocities Act, Minimum Wages Act, Human Rights Protection Act and also plan-out suitable strategies to enforce the laws for 100% towards positive impacts. The capacity building process shall help the community, staff, members of the organizations from realizing their purpose and goals while enhancing the abilities that will allow them to achieve measurable and sustainable results of the project with time frame. Some of the activities under this heading are follows;-
- Organizing workshop for the staff and community leaders to understand the issue, aware of the act, work-out strategies and promotion of team action in implementation of the project.
- Translations of BLA act in local language with POA act and rules which will make our team members to play an effective role in implementation of the project activities.
- Conducting monthly review meetings among the NASC team members and sharing the success steps, challenges faced, limitations, learnt lessons and ideas for reaching the outcomes and goals with planning for the future. Also reporting to the needed organisations and other stake-holders.
- Training the team in communication and proper information that will be spread through various forms including cultural programmes, street-theatres, documentary screening, print-media, case studies presentation, exposure and other methods.
- Producing quarterly newsletters on BLA that will be sent to the District Collector, District Magistrate, District Labour Officer, District Superintend of Police, District Social Welfare Department, District Adi-Dravida and Tribal Welfare Officer, and District Chairman of the PRI, MLAs, MPs, PRO, Media and also Leaders of the CSOs. Such copies also will be sent to State-Human Rights Commission, Adi-Dravidar & Tribal Welfare Department, State Social Welfare Department, Minister for SC/ST, State-level Labour Minister at the state level and also to the Chief Secretary, Chief Minister, Governor and few Delhi based departments.
- Providing finance management and organizational management trainings to few staff members with the support of Account Aid for following good standards.
- Creating opportunities for all the team members to share and exchange ideas through cross-learning strategies which can be helpful to replicate best practices in similar situations.
3. Enforcing Accountability of the duty bearers for proper implementation of laws:-
- One of the main activities of the NASC is going to be enforcing accountability of the duty bearers. Advocating and enforcing and using the judiciary system for greater enforcement of the Act as per the Rules given. We can articulate with Labour Department, Labour Ministry, National Human Rights Commission, SC/ST Commission, SC/ST Departments to take accurate steps on the issue of BL and bring necessary amendments to the BLA Act.
- We can also create awareness about BLA act, ILO convention and UDHR article that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood" (Article 1 - UDHR). Unfortunately all over the world, millions of poor and tribal men and women continue to be treated as lower-class citizens and as forced labour and discriminated in all forms. So there is need of grassroot people’s rights movement for enforcing laws to support equality for all.
- Implementation of laws and policies for the rights of workers is an important strategy of the NASC. For example, India has ratified both the ILO Conventions related to Forced Labour - C 29 (Forced Labour Convention, 1930) which undertakes to suppress the use of forced or compulsory labour in all its forms within the shortest possible time. C 105 (Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957) prohibits the use of any form of forced or compulsory labour as a means of political coercion or education, punishment for the expression of political or ideological views, workforce mobilization, labour discipline, punishment for participation in strikes, or discrimination.
- The Constitution of India (Article 23) prohibits traffic on human beings and forced labour and the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 abolishes the bonded labour system in India. However, the National Human Rights Commission after taking over the monitoring (in 1997) of the implementation of the directions towards the identification, release and rehabilitation of Bonded Labour by the State Governments as well as that of the Bonded Labour Act has recently indicated the problems that exist in this sphere.
- We are creating awareness on these laws and policies in local language and mobilizing labour community to use the BLAA and enforce with targeted government officials. NASC can get linkage with state to publish status paper on the implementation of laws and sections in view with BLAA and POA. We also apply learnings from challenges and methodologies that are used in execution of the Forest Rights Act.
We are implementing the following activities to enforce the BLA Act for securing rights of the labour/tribes;-
- Survey and information collection by involving staff, community leaders and volunteers on the situation of bonded labourers/forced labourers from the areas of seven districts.
- Preparing documents with facts and figures. Since our main target is the government officials/policy makers and therefore all our correspondence and communication will be based on prior appointments and submitting necessary evidences/documents related to our goals and outcomes.
- Publication of the booklets in local language about the BLA act and other information for awareness and understanding and implementation and circulation of the booklets to different level of targets.
- We will invite the labour minister, SC/ST minister, govt secretaries, national human rights commission, SC/ST Commissioners to take part in our seminars and workshops. Through this opportunity, we will meet and educate them the severity of bonded labour in the state.
- We will target for the rally & conference -people such as; Brick-kiln workers, rice-mill workers, stone-quarry workers, salt-production workers, released bonded labourers, writers, intellectuals, politicians, other CSO leaders, media, lawyers and also government officers will be involved in the conference.
- Documentation of issues and communications for further follow-up actions.
4. Educating the owners of Rice-mills, Brick kilns, Salt-making units with DM & DCs
As part of the program activities, we need to educate the people who engage bonded labour, forced labour, child labour in context with national and international human rights laws and sections/rules of the bonded labour systems abolition act along with the rules of the Prevention of Atrocities Act. This process can make attitude change, mind-sets, and will enforce the minimum wages act otherwise they have to face the consequences and punishment. Posters, booklets related to these laws can be circulated to these owners/creditors. This activity is not very easy to implement, however we need to take the efforts in the view of creating good relationship between workers and owners. We have planned the following possible activities;-
- Identification, selection and invitation to the rice-mill owners, brick-kiln owners and other creditors for the consultation on the workers and owners relationship in-line with BLSA Act 1976 and MWA 1948 with latest government orders and notifications.
- Workshop and consultation with workers and owners on the issue and strategy for smooth relationship and functions and strategies to enforce the laws and policies.
- Using media and news-letters to reach general public, workers, creditors, production unit managers and correct government officials about the UDHR, ILO, BLA, MWA, POA for promoting social justice and economic equality with everyone-contribution for peace, cooperation and responsibility for promoting true democracy.
5. Support Service for the rights of Victims of Bonded Labourers like the PRIs
In-order to bring the effectiveness in release, rescue, rehabilitation process, we need to provide legal aid support along with strengthening of PRI systems (panchayat raj institutions). We can educate the PRI leaders to involve in various activities starting from fact-finding, documentation, approach to judiciary, follow-up and leading the issue towards life with peace in their panchayats. Along with line-departments and NASC team, the PRI bodies can activate all the Vigilance Committees with support of the District Magistrate, state rural/tribal welfare departments for the upliftment of victims of bonded labourers and promote economic support along with other services to the victims. The strategies are follows;-
- Involving the panchayat bodies for enforcement of the Act and for advocacy work by inviting 100 men and 100 women of PRI leaders for the state-level seminar; –preference will be given to the BL existing areas for this meeting. They will be sensitized and will support for true implementation of the Act. By nature, they will also communicate to the Rice-mill owners, Brick-kiln owners, Stone-quarry owners and through them, these people will be educated the seriousness of the BLA Act and its national level enforcement strategies.
- Distribution of handouts and information to the labourers/creditors, PRI leaders, teachers, general public, government departments on the need of greater enforcement of the bonded labours abolition act and the importance of the minimum wages act.
- Rescue, Release, Rehabilitation activities - based on the need with medical and other emergency support activities. Also legal aid action for the rights of Bonded Labourers.
- Contacts and linkages in local areas with rural development departments, tribal welfare departments, national rural livelihoods mission and other poverty eradication schemes for the development of BL victims.
6. Integrated-Economic Development Support for the victims of Bonded Labourers
One of the works of the program shall be rehabilitation steps. By supporting economically for the victims of the bonded labourers shall make them to live a life with dignity. In this process, we need to integrate various government economic and livelihoods development programs. For example, we need to link-them into the self-help groups and that can mainstream with community empowerment process, link them with national rural livelihood mission and other poverty reduction schemes. For some of the emergency cases, we our self-should support financially for income generation activities and integrate them to get bank-loans, and access to other welfare schemes of the state and central units. Our planned activities under this title are follows;-
- By advocating with District Magistrate and Vigilance Committees, the rehabilitation can be done through contacting line-departments and integrating for the welfare of the Bonded Labourers – eg, Adi Dravida Tribal Welfare Departments, District Rural Development Agency, Women Development Corporation, Social Welfare Board, Puduvalvu Project, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (District), National Child Labour Project (District), and link them with our activities.
- Organising the workers and victims of the bonded labourers into self-help groups and promotion of some income generation activities with the support of government aid
- Creating linkage with other organisations that are working for the livelihoods development of the workers and forced labour.
7. Monitoring and Evaluation process
Monitoring and evaluation is an important step in our project implementation process. We have peer-group review systems that help in supervising activities in progress to ensure they are on-course and on-schedule in meeting the objectives and performance targets as per the plan and expected results of the project. We all meet on regular basis with all staff, community coordinators, federation leaders, and volunteers review the following steps for effective management of the project as well as for the positive impact of the project. We will keep on tracking on the following items;-
- Performance of the Stakeholders of the project
- Functions of the Organizational Management
- Situation of internal and external Environment
- Structure of the Organizational & Systems
- Implementation Strategies and methods
- Organisation capacity and objectives
- Smartness in handling the targets/state
- Financial management & reporting systems
- Communication and documentation aspects
8. Documentation and Sharing of best practices
The project on BLA is a rights-based work which will empower the impoverished communities and also will enforce the state to do their functions as per the BLA Act 1976. Therefore, the documentation and reporting will became an important for learning, replicating strategies, promoting transparency and creating evidence for indicators. It will be the main source of information and knowledge bank of work experience. Therefore, we will be doing monthly-staff reporting systems and preparing quarterly reporting to the donors and Annual report with financial statement of the entire project activities. We will be submitting final report with audited accounts statement to the concern donors and to other partners as part of the accountability. We will also find strategies for continuation of this work for massive impacts.