WPC works with a knowledge network called Labour Axis, which has researchers working on labour who work with the network to help in formulating positions and informing campaigns.

Labour Axis
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  • Date :01 Jan, 0001
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WPC has groups of experts to help with research, training, education and policy, to generate briefing papers and statements. There are different policy groups for different thematic areas. WPC works with a knowledge network called Labour Axis, which has researchers working on labour who work with the network to help in formulating positions and informing campaigns. We are setting up a digital platform for providing information w.r.t WPC and members’ activities, encouraging interaction between member organizations, which is also engaged in educating and training local leadership of the organizations working with informal sector workers. The WPC’s work on labour also includes an understanding and engagement with citizenship, sustainable development and the city. WPC works in a social and political context and the place of labour within it. It sees labour as an exploitative capitalist system based on profit above all else. It sees class in intersectionality with gender, caste, race. It is committed to building a democratic, sustainable and climate-just world.

The COVID-19 scenario has reinstated labour issues in social, political and economic discourse in different sectors, such as affordable housing, employment guarantee, healthcare access etc. Therefore, an urgent and concerted set of steps is required to restructure the dynamics between labourers, industries and economic growth, to shift to a sustainable development path. The successful completion of this transformation will require thinking beyond today’s business-as-usual scenario. Moreover, transformative action is needed simultaneously at the global, regional, and national levels and in every research sector, including health, education, politics, gender, economic development, equity, and social inclusion. Although the extraordinary scientific and technological knowledge acquired in the course of labour movements for over a century can assist in tackling these challenges. Still, a tripartite engagement between state, industries and labourers/unions is necessary to ensure access of labour to their basic entitlements. This engagement is necessary because informal labour has not yet had access to basic entitlements. Momentum for transformation is required in the form of new dialogues between the labour academia, unions, governments, businesses and civil societies. Also, in the form of policies that are informed, powerful, implementable, and communicable - policies that would be based on focused and collaborative scientific research with clear and productive aims and outcomes.

On this background, Labour Axis aims to gather knowledge that is important for people working in the field of labour and celebrate the diversity of the country through the advocacy of migrant labour entitlements. Also, conduct action research on issues of importance for Working Peoples’ Charter (WPC) member-constituents. The main focus will be on organising collaborative research, commissioning independent research and publishing material in the area of labour. This will lead to many activities such as, conferences, seminars, webinars and round tables and publishing content for further discussion and debate on various subjects, including those which are indirectly related to labour. Apart from this, an important objective is to facilitate a neutral platform for discussions/negotiations between state/government, Unions/labourers and industries through a tripartite dialogue.

To aggregate the knowledge on labour and to make it widely available, this organisation will encourage artistic, creative expression around labour issues. This knowledge material will be available in different local languages to reach different parts of the country. It will also focus on migration as it is an important component of labour rights and organisation; and emphasize the intersectionality of labour with gender, race, caste, community, language, culture, etc.

Activities

Generate, aggregate, publish, build collaborations in, knowledge and research Organise tripartite consultations/discussions

Conduct training, study circles, workshops, exhibitions,

Public policy briefs

Produce videos and documentaries

Organise social media outreach

Organise events like:

Public webinars

Inter-sectoral (in labour), inter-union exchanges

Discussions between labour and other social movements and sectors- e.g., women, caste, sexual minorities, etc

Tripartite discussions between people from labour, industry, government and govt/parastatal agencies,

Discussions, workshops on culture, social issues, politics, economics, etc Sharing of knowledge on best practices

Cultural programs, film shows,

Set up a website to aggregate the work and activities

Objectives

To provide theoretical, analytical, informative matters for the organisation and well-being of labour, especially informal labour.

Facilitate a neutral platform for tripartite discussions between state/government, unions and industries Support the labour movement and advance solidarity at the national and international level Build international and regional (Asia, South Asia) solidarity of labour and social movements for change Bring about greater unity of action and analysis in the labour movement

Develop dialogue between labour in different sectors and unions, between the formal and informal sector Develop dialogue and understanding between labour and different social sectors Increase the capacity of labour to intervene in policymaking and social change Work towards restoring the voice of labour in social and political change in the country Supporting WPC constituents with sectoral research

Registration

Labour Axis is registered as a Public Charitable Trust, with the exemption under 12 A and 80 G (IT Act). The Trust can receive funds from Indian entities and individuals. Labour Axis is affiliated with the Working People’s Charter Network (WPC) and its work and priorities are decided in consonance with those of the network.

Labour Axis is focused on knowledge creation in the field of labour, on research, writing and training that has a practical and direct benefit to the labour movement in general and WPC constituencies in particular. It has a group of young researchers who are working on various projects and we are receiving small grants to coordinate and facilitate this and also pay researchers a small honorarium in some cases. There is a panel of senior researchers from various labour related areas who help with conceptualisation, methodology and outreach.

Before the end of the year, after the National Conference of the WPC in October, the Trust will focus on building its structure, work plan and goals for the year 2022. Applications for research grants on the key areas of interest will also be completed and submitted.

Since the inception of Labour Axis in April 2021, we have undertaken small yet sustained steps towards building a team of people from various like-minded organizations (such as YUVA, HALWA, Aajeevika Bureau), academicians and professionals working together on the various issues of the workers.

REPORT OF WORK

WHAT WE HAVE COMPLETED

Published our study on returned migrants due to COVID-19 lockdown - After the long marches: What do workers want? by Rahul Menon and Chinmayi Naik

Research on vacant public housing and its liveability for affordable rental housing complexes scheme by Mukta Naik, Swastik Harish, Shweta Tambe

A Paper on Strengthening the ESIC model by Ravi Duggal

ON-GOING

With the support of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Labour Axis has conceptualised five research thematic areas:

Study of the current governance system of the nursing council particularly to understand its impact on quality and access to health care in Delhi, Kerala, Karnataka and West Bengal Urban Income and Employment Guarantee Schemes

Housing policy and housing solutions in different states - Mapping of existing housing schemes and their status in different states through presentations of experts

PLANNED PROJECTS (FOR 2022)

Labour Axis is in conversation with FES to work on the following projects in 2022: Webinar on Employment and Employability - Future of Work: Impact of AI, digitisation and new economy on generating livelihood.

Biographies of important labour leaders in India.

More projects are still under discussion for next year.

DETAILS OF PROJECTS

WORKERS HOUSING

Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC): Labour Axis and WPC together initiated a report on the Affordable Rental Housing Complexes scheme that was announced by the government of India as a response to the need for affordable housing in urban areas particularly in wake of the covid pandemic. This was in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and India Housing Report (IHR).

The report was launched on the 7th of August in New Delhi. A resolution was also passed during the event which emphasized the need to create equitable cities which provide adequate and affordable housing for its people along with all the necessary physical and social infrastructure.

Workers Housing is one of the most important focus areas for the Labour Axis. After several rounds of deliberation with the team, it was decided that there is a pressing need to map the various housing policies that were and are being undertaken by the state governments as well as the centre. The mapping exercise will help in not only creating a pool of experts, professionals and activists working in this sector across the country but also look at best practices, what has worked and why it worked in that state. This will lead to creating a network of professionals working on workers housing across the state. Thereafter, this group will go on to create a nationwide campaign strategy for advocacy and implementation on workers housing.

Since this would be an online webinar format, it was decided that we would do this in four parts in order to make it more manageable– North, East, South and West Zone. The country was divided into these zones and core group members worked towards identifying potential speakers for the panels with the help of the WPC network. The webinars organized would be transcribed and put up as publications.

• The west zone (comprising Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Goa) was organized in two parts. The first one was on 25th June 2021 and the second one was on the 13th August 2021. The speakers in this zone were Anil Darshetkar, Anil Wasnik, Chandrashekhar Deshpande, Kirtee Shah, Smita Waingankar, Sulakshana Mahajan, Vishram Patil and PN Mandola in part 1. Part 2 had PK Das, Shubham Kaushal, Praveen Ghag, Sheik Salauddin, Bharati Bhonsale, Rajendra Joshi. These sessions were moderated by Meena Menon and Darshini Mahadevia respectively.

• The north zone (comprising Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, UP and Uttarakhand) was organized on the 13th of September 2021. The speakers were Aravind Unni, Nidhi Sohane, Mukta Naik, Elizabeth Devi and Tikender Singh and were moderated by Gautam Bhan and Shalaka Chauhan.

• The south zone was organized in two parts and was organised on the 23rd and 24th of September 2021. The speakers for this zone were Anant Maringanti, Br Varghese, Rajan Samuel, P B Sajan and Muraleedharan B, Anju Manikoth for part 1 which covered the states of AP, Telangana and Kerala; moderated by Marina Joseph. Part 2 focused on the states of Karnataka and Tamilnadu and the speakers were Swastik Harish, Karen Coehlo, Vanessa Peter, Akbar A and Vineetha Nalla; moderated by Anju Manikoth.

• The east zone is in the process of being planned and organized.

• The gap areas are also being addressed to make sure that the study covers the entire country.

NURSING COUNCILS

We are proposing to take up a research project on the salience of State Nursing Councils in the nursing profession as well as their direct and indirect impact on patients and the health sector. The project aims to make a compelling case for a structural overhaul of the various nursing councils in India and to hold them accountable in future. The study will analyse the existing system of the nursing councils in three states — Maharashtra, Karnataka and New Delhi. It will identify feasible solutions for the effective functioning of nurses and establish a steadfast patient-nurse relationship.

The nursing sector in India is governed by the Indian Nursing Council (INC), which is the central body. Under this, there are nursing councils in each state. While the INC is responsible for creating the syllabus and other aspects of nursing education, it does not have the power to interfere with the state councils, primarily because health is a state subject. Hence, each state nursing council has independent power to regulate the affairs of the nursing profession.

However, there are gaps in the system that have left thousands of nurses in each state concerned and discontent. Medical doctors form the major members of a state council that is constituted for the nurses, mostly appointed by the state governments. The executive power rests mostly in the hands of medical doctors, with little representation of nurses, which has led to the apathetic implementation of various statutory provisions. This engenders a skewed decision-making process.

The state nursing council bye-laws give its ethical committee power to handle the grievances of nurses. In reality, however, the committee is not functioning effectively, thus leaving the nurses with no platform to address their grievances. Further, trained nurses are hobbled by complicated registration processes to enter the health sector. As strange as it may sound, some nursing colleges in India offer training via distance education courses for a profession that requires practical knowledge and constant practise to save thousands of lives. Additionally, the state nursing council laws factor out nurses from private hospitals (who form the chunk of the nursing population in India) even though the body has the authority to control private hospitals.

The study spearheaded by Working People’s Charter aims to train the critical lens on some of these issues, with the primary goal to recommend some systemic and legal changes in the councils and chalk out long-term solutions.

Manifest goals

• To smoothen processes, such as registration, grievance redressal, etc.

• To democratize the constitution of state nursing councils

• To ensure equal representation of nurses in state and national healthcare bodies • To raise awareness among nurses about their rights, provisions

The Structure

We are focusing on the nursing councils in three states: Maharashtra, Karnataka and New Delhi. We will examine the current provisions and bye-laws, and substantiate with case studies and data to propose changes.

The study requires, inter alia, ground reports and data from researchers who could critically study the Maharashtra Nurses Act, 1966; the Delhi Nursing Council Act, 1997; the Karnataka Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act, 1961.

The bulk of our input would comprise collective recommendations from myriad nursing associations, including representations from private hospitals.

Interestingly, the Maharashtra Nursing Council is conducting an election to democratically elect the council members, who would then objectively represent the nursing community. This would be an opportune moment to gather input from all stakeholders, understand how the state of affairs would be different via an election process.

We would require the input of a legal professional to foolproof our recommendations for state nursing council acts. It is vital to accommodate the input from the public, too, to understand how to improve the services and sharpen our recommendations accordingly. Ultimately, these changes could positively impact the nurses, their families and the patients.

EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE AND WAGE DETERMINATION

• A key campaign that was conceptualised in the EC meeting for the WPC constituency is on employment guarantee and wage determination. The main challenge in the employment guarantee is how to calculate wages and unemployment benefits etc.

• The proposed project began by studying existing models developed by HAZARD, PAEG and Azim Premji University, and examining their benefits and pitfalls both in terms of their livelihood benefits for workers and in terms of their sustainability.

• Simultaneously it will conduct a pilot study in Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand to study the dynamics of work arrangements, the role of each stakeholder and its effectiveness

• The study will suggest how a UEG might be adapted to address the dynamics of employment and income in urban areas

• It identified the stakeholders, i.e., Worker (right holders), Urban Local Body, Bureaucrats etc. in the Urban Employment Guarantee program in the selected states.

• We will do a key informant survey to understand their roles and responsibilities – who takes the decisions about the work and its execution, is it participatory, how were the wages decided, how the list of works chosen, how were workers identified for chosen works, how are the accounts maintained, what is the process flow, how is information collated, what kind of an MIS is being used, what is the monitoring mechanism etc?

• The study has listed down the parameters (what kind of wages were paid to the workers, kind of jobs were created under the scheme, the number of days work is provided for and how many workers got access to the employment) and the need for independent evaluation of the Urban Employment schemes instated in different states.

• It will also analyse the Budget to understand the source of funds, the decision on labour budgets and allocation and will use RTIs to gain information on all the unanswered questions.

• Simultaneously it will further look into the Kerala model - one of the oldest models on UEG in India as a case study to understand its effectiveness and pitfalls.