Workers Charter

(Passed at the 2nd Annual Convention of Hind Mazdoor Sabha held at Delhi from 10-12 March 1951)

WATCH WORDS

WORK : WORK FOR ALL, in recognition of the Right to work and Banish Unemployment

FOOD: FOOD FOR ALL, with Economic Security, Equal Opportunities and Social Justice!

SHELTER: SHELTER FOR ALL, in villages, towns and cities!

FREE TRADE UNIONISM :

RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION, Right to Organise and Bargain Collectively, Right to Choose Representatives in full freedom; RIGHT TO STRTIKE; FULL CIVIL LIBERTIES AND FREEDOM OF TRADE UNION ACTION, Without any Interference from the Government!

PEACE: PEACE THROUGH INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY IN A SOCIALIST SOCIETY, BOTH AT HOME AND THE WORLD OVER!

1. We, the workers of India by hand and brain, responsible for the production and services of the country, hereby declare as free citizens of a free country the following to be THE CHARTER OF OUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES, on the basis of which alone, a FREE, DEMOCRATIC, EGALITARIAN AND SOCIALIST SOCIETY can be built up in India as well as in the world.

(i) Right to Work and Banish Unemployment:

2. LABOUR, we affirm as a basic principle, IS NOT A COMMODITY, Every adult human being is by natural right entitled to obtain WORK, both for his own LIVELIHOOD AND FOR THAT OF HIS FAMILY as also for the growth and development of his PERSONALITY IN KEEPING with human dignity.

3. Having regard to his capacity and experience, he shall also have the freedom OF CHOICE OF HIS EMPLOYMENT. Free labour shall, therefore, be zealously guarded and forced labour opposed tooth and nail.

4. Within the right to work, we affirm, is contained the right to SECURITY OF EMPLOYMENT. Unemployment total or partial, that perpetuates poverty and corrodes human personality shall be banished from our land. We firmly believe and assert this to the responsibility of the State.

(ii) Higher standards of living and rising wages:

5. We stand for ever RISING STANDARDS OF LIVING for the workers by hand and brain and accept NO CEILING TO WAGES needed to secure such rising standards of living.

6. While we assert that every worker should earn a LIVING WAGE in the near future to enable him and his family to lead a decent human life, we fully appreciate the economic malaise from which the country suffers today, and in consequence, we may accept FAIR WAGE as the minimum that any worker must earn. All workers, therefore, receive here and now the Fair Wage sufficient to meet the basic needs of good nourishment, shelter, recreation and self improvement. The State and the employer respectively, shall undertake on their part to fulfil their obligations towards the workers in this respect and as hereinafter enumerated.

(iii) Housing :

7. No child shall be born on the footpath; no man or woman thrown on the streets, whether in a village, town or city; NO HUMAN BEING SHALL BE WITHOUT A SHELTER. Any civilised State is duty bound to provide adequate shelter to its citizens, and thereby to save them and their families from vicissitudes of the weather.

(iv) Free Trade Unionism:

8. We affirm and insist upon the universal recognition by the Governments and employers of the right of workers to form and join for the normal protection of their interest, TRADE UNIONS which shall be FREE BARGAINING INSTRUMENTS and WHICH DERIVE their authority from THEIR MEMBERS.

(v) Company Unions:

9. We are totally opposed to and detest formation of COMPANY UNIONS by or under the inspiration OF THE EMPLOYERS. Such unions must be banned by law and prevented by imposing heavy and exemplary punishment of guilty employers.

(vi) Yellow Unions:

10. We are equally opposed to formation of YELLOW UNIONS sponsored or inspired by or with the assistance OF THE GOVERNMENT: such unions are bound to toe the Government line, support it in all its measures, although opposed to the workers  interests and will, therefore, reduce themselves to the position of Government agents, thereby leaving the trade union movement weak and ineffective.

(vii) Workers in Fields, Factories, Offices, and All:

11. We are concerned with ECONOMIC EQUALITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE for agricultural workers, office going employees and all other labourers as wage earners employed in industries. Not only shall we work for the well-being of agricultural workers in particular but we shall also work for the raising of their status, economically, socially and politically, lest they be continued to be exploited as the village is exploited by the town-dweller and the city-dweller. ACHIEVEMENT OF EQUALITY BETWEEN THE CONDITIONS OF WORKERS IN THE FIELDS, FACTORIES AND OFFICES SHALL, THEREFORE, BE OUR PRIMARY OBJECTIVE.

(viii) Minimum Standards of Work:

12. Workers are entitled to such hours and conditions of work as will afford them the opportunity for leisure and allow the full development of their faculties, intellectual and physical. There are indeed primary matters for collective bargaining, yet, there are MINIMUM STANDARDS below which no worker should ever fall and whose maintenance is, therefore, a duty of the Government; Consequently, the Government should, under no circumstances fail  TO IMPLEMENT THROUGH LEGISLATION INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS SET UP BY THE ILO IN CONNECTION WITH SUCH MINIMUM CONDITIONS.

(ix) Right of Collective Bargaining and Strike:

13. It should be the aim and the function of organised labour to achieve the foregoing objectives, in so far as they are matters for collective bargaining, by negotiation and discussion. But if the employers or the Government obstruct the achievement of these objectives then FREE TRADE UNIONS RESERVE THE RIGHT OF THEIR MEMBERS COLLECTIVELY TO LEAVE THEIR EMPLOYMENT WHEN THEY SO CHOOSE, SINCE THE RIGHT TO STRIKE FOLLOWS FROM THE RIGHT TO WORK.

(x) Social Security:

14.       Among those rights of workers, which must be implemented mainly by the Government we place first and foremost THE GUARANTEE OF NATIONAL SOCIAL SECURITY, including a comprehensive health service for every citizen and security in sickness, accident, old age and unemployment, appropriate levy being put on the employers for the purpose.

(xi) Education and Vocational Training:

15. As an important factor in creating conditions suitable for equality of opportunity for all, we reaffirm the rights of workers to REMOVAL OF ILLITERACY and access to EDUCATION FREE OF CHARGE. The opportunities for intellectual growth must not be limited by economic and social factors, special provision should be made for VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND GUIDANCE, and for those who have not had the opportunity of education during normal school years to remedy these short-comings during their adult lives.

(xii) Abolish Child Labour:

16. We denounce child labour as inhuman and harmful to the community. CHILD LABOUR MUST BE ABOLISHED IN ALL SPHERES OF LIFE through legislations accompanied by severe punishment for its breach.

(xiii) Economic Equality and Social Justice:

17. The fundamental right of workers - that which underlines all other rights - is to ECONOMIC EQUALITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE within the framework of a SOCIALIST SOCIETY.

(xiv) Classless Society:

18. Where NONE is either TOO RICH OR TOO POOR, where there are equal OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL, where there are NO DISTINCTIONS of class, caste, creed, race, colour or sex in the pursuit of normal avocations of life, that, we firmly believe, such egalitarian SOCIALIST SOCIETY can emerge.

19. A PSYCHOLOGICAL REVOLUTION in the Society is the need of the day, knowing as we do that we are moving into a new age in which labour cannot be content to deal with only wages, hours and conditions of life, but must have an INCREASING AND EQUAL VOICE IN THE DETERMINATION OF ECONOMIC POLICIES AS ENVISAGED IN INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY AND IN A SOCIALIST SOCIETY.

20.  Being conscious of our responsibilities to the entire community, we do firmly believe that in coming years the UNITED FORCES OF LABOUR will play A MIGHTY ROLE in the attainment of its great ideals and leading humanity to higher and nobler living.

THE PLEDGE:

WE, THE WORKERS OF INDIA, BY HAND AND BRAIN, WORKING IN FIELDS, FACTORIES, OFFICES AND ELSEWHERE, DO HEREBY PLEDGE OURSELVES TO STRIVE AND STRUGGLE AND TO LAY DOWN OUR LIVES, IF NEED BE FOR THE FULFILMENT OF OUR OBJECTIVES; WORK, FOOD, SHELTER, FREE TRADE UNIONISM AND PEACE FOR BETTER LIFE, HIGHER AND NOBLER RELATIONS THAT TRANSCEND NATIONAL BOUNDARIES IN TERMS OF HUMAN VALUES ON THE BASIS OF DIGNITY OF LABOUR AND INTEGRITY OF MANKIND.
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