LWO moots committee to redress sexual harassment

LWO moots committee to redress sexual harassment

For the first time, Bengaluru based Labour Welfare organisation (LWO) will be initiating discussions with senior police officers on setting up a committee at the police station level to redress complaints of sexual harassment from the unorganised beedi women workers.

The need of such committee was felt when women beedi workers revealed facing sexual harassment from beedi contractors at a workshop organised on gender mainstreaming and occupational safety and health for Beedi workers at Sahyadri Engineering college here recently.

Welfare and Cess Commissioner K Shekar told DH that there were about registered 40,000 beedi workers in dakshina kannada district and 2,98,438 registered beedi workers across the state. The number of unregistered beedi workers is above two lakh, he added.

Women sometimes had to walk long distance in order to submit beedies at the nearest beedi branch. Many beedi workers who were sexually assaulted by contractors or members of the union suffer in silence for fear of losing the job. “Senior police officers will be impressed on the need of having a committee at the station level,” he said.

At the workshop, first of its kind in India, Tsyoshi Kawakami and Aya Matsuura, trainers from the ILO Decent Work Team for South East Asia, had urged Beedi workers to face such situations boldly. Such sexual harassment in work place exists not only in India but all over the world.

Aya Matsuura with the help of visual aids had explained on the means to be adopted in order to minimise sexual harassment or avoiding a sexual assault. The trainers even had visited the houses of Beedi workers to familiarise themselves on the working conditions of Beedi workers.

They also had shared the importance of safety measures at the work place which would improve their productivity and health conditions of beedi workers. “Kawakami had urged Beedi workers to make small changes in their work environment which will reduce fatigue and improve their health condition,”

Beedi hospitals

The fate of 20 dispensaries including 12 dispensaries in dakshina kannada and Uudpi districts and two labour hospitals (Yadgir and Mysuru) in Karnataka still remains uncertain.

Earlier, these beedi hospitals and dispensaries were run with the help of cess (Rs 10 to Rs 20 crore) collected from mining companies.

With Goods and Service Tax (GST) being introduced two years ago, the cess had stopped flowing to the Labour Welfare organisation under Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Andhra Pradesh and Bihar’s initiative on outsourcing the dispensaries to Employees State Insurance (ESI) hospital failed miserably.

“ Thus we are not too keen on running the dedicated wing on the fifth floor of Wenlock hospital for beedi women workers,”sources added.

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