05 December 2010

Who Are The Agricultural Workers

A Perspective Paper on Agrarian Reform and Agricultural Workers [1]

[The National Alliance Of Agricultural Worker Unions (Alliance) was formed in 2005 to foster links among independent agricultural workers unions/organisations and to represent their interests in different forums.This paper was finalized in a National Consultation organised by the Alliance in Delhi on 23rd and 24th August 2006]

According to the Rural Labour Enquiry Report 1999-2000[2], India had 44.18 million agricultural labour households (32% of all rural households). This is an increase of 7.9 million in only six years from 1993-94, when the number of such households was 36.26 million or 30% of all rural households. In addition, numerous workers engaged in livestock, forestry, fishing, orchards and allied activities as well as small and marginal farmers work as agricultural workers in times of difficulty to supplement their meagre incomes.

About 75% of Agricultural Labour Households (ALHs) are landless or nearly landless. In addition, 11.2% ALHs own 0.21- 0.40 hectares land. Thus 86.2% of ALHs are 'poor' and 'marginal' and are compelled to do any type of manual work in agriculture under any conditions forced upon them. Green Revolution states like Punjab and Haryana show high incidence of landlessness (61.19% and 49.26% respectively). This extreme form of landlessness – where more than or nearly half of the rural households are landless – is visible also in Maharashtra (49.95%) and land-reform-famed West Bengal (49.79%).[3]

Out of Scheduled Caste [people of lower castes] rural households (22% of all rural households), 51.4% are agricultural labour households. Of the Scheduled Tribe [ST] rural households (11% of all rural households), 39.6% are agricultural labour households. Amongst Other Backward Caste rural [OBC] households (37% of all rural households), 29.2% are agricultural labour households. However, amongst upper caste rural households (30% of all rural households), only 19% are agricultural labour households. Thus it is the socially oppressed caste groups that form the bulk of agricultural workers.

Of the 126 million female main workers in India in 2001, as many as 50 million or 40% were agricultural workers. Not only that, wage work in agriculture is becoming an occupation of greater importance for women. Thus the percentage of female main workers to total female population has increased from 6.83% in 1961 to 12.12 % in 2001.[4] It has also been observed that across the country there has been as a feminisation of the agricultural work force. From 1993-94 to 1999-2000, the number of women agricultural workers increased from 22.5 million to 29.3 million or from 35% of all agricultural workers to 37%. Male agricultural workers during the same period reduced from 62% to 61%.  In a State like Punjab after the so-called land reform period women agricultural workers have increased by more than 300 times. In the State of Kerala too where the most radical land reform took place, while male agricultural workers grew at a steady rate, female agricultural workers grew at twice this rate between the period of 1951-1975.

Agricultural workers are thus growing in number. They are amongst the poorest groups in rural areas, with little or no land in their names. They are predominantly from amongst the SCs, STs and OBCs and more and more agricultural workers are now women than ever before. 

Creation of a Class and Land Reforms

In India, an agrarian society for centuries, most major pre-industrial and technological skill evident till 15th and 16th centuries had their base in agriculture. Although the problem of surplus labour started before the colonial period, the problem became visible in the colonial period. The reason for this was the omnipresence of absentee landlordism that resulted in food insecurity and destruction of traditional agro-based artisanship.

The agrarian crisis became a fundamental barrier to the development of productive forces in pre independence India. The key issue during the national liberation struggle was radical agrarian reform to remove absentee landlordism and liberate productive forces. These were also central issues for Adivasi [the indigenous people] movements in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and peasant movements in the last two decades before India became independent. The principles of future land reform policy became the core issue especially after the withdrawal of Chori Chora Satyagraha [a milestone event in Indian freedom struggle]. At the same time the revolutionaries led by HSRO (Hindustan Socialist Republic Organisation) strongly raised the issue of complete abolishment of Zamindari [landlord] System. On 15th March 1947, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar [architect of Indian Constitution and of the ‘untouchable’ caste who prefer to be called Dalits, the oppressed] proposed that all private and public lands should be nationalised and distributed to all those living on land for collective cultivation.

However, under the pressure of feudal forces the Congress party took a resolution only for land distribution. Abolition of intermediary land tenure system was given top priority immediately after the Independence as this system was known for its exploitation of tenants. On the eve of independence about 173 million acres out of 324 million acres of cultivable land was under intermediary tenures. It should be added here that the tenants were kept bonded for agricultural work.

Zamindari abolition had some negative aspects. Firstly a lot of money (Rs. 534 crores or Rs. 5,340 million) had to be paid in the form of compensation to the erstwhile Zamindars [landlords]. Secondly, large chunks of land could be retained by Zamindars by claiming these as land under personal cultivation. Thirdly ownership rights were conferred not on the actual cultivator but on the recorded statutory tenant. However, these tenants had a chain of sub-tenants who were actual tillers and belonged to the vulnerable sections of the society. As a result many actual tillers who were small and marginal tenants and who belonged to the dalit and adivasi sections were thus deprived of land.

In addition, the Forest Department (FD) became the largest Zamindar in the post-independent era. Private forest surrendered by the princely States, large chunks of pastures, common property resources and community forests were transferred to Forest Department. The rights of tribal and forest dwellers were reduced to concessions and later abolished totally. These lands were given for management, with no ownership rights. However, the FD now claims to be holding 23% of land on which barely 9% of forest exists, while the owners/traditional users of the forest are called as encroachers.

Similarly huge tracts of land were given for plantations, where even today at least 30-40% of the land lies unused. Workers in plantations were given no ownership rights to even the house that they had been living in for the past four to five generations. Industry was also given huge tracts of land, as were mines. Many of those who depended on these lands for a living were displaced, leaving them with agricultural labour as their only means of subsistence.

Thus, India entered the post land reforms period in the 1960's with little changed (except in a few pockets of 'forward' states). Ceiling laws that were enacted later on were so liberal towards landed elements and their implementation was so ineffective that land concentration remained unchanged. The entire implementation was left with corrupt local land revenue functionaries. Landowners had the option to surrender the land of their choice. Consequently they surrendered the worst land mostly unfit for cultivation.

Overwhelming vestiges of semi-feudal relations, exploitations, customs, etc. were thus preserved. As a result a serious crisis emerged in the 1960’s resulting in a series of movements of peasants and agricultural workers throughout the country. From 1964 to 1976, 4 lakh landless labourers [400,000] under the leadership of Dadasaheb Gaikwad, a staunch follower of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, were jailed in Maharashtra for demanding redistribution of land. The shortage of food also became a serious problem. Even then the government instead of addressing the problem of distribution of land and other resources emphasised the need to accelerate agricultural production.

From mid-sixties onwards Indian agriculture was exposed to new technology, popularly known as Green Revolution. As a result, the agricultural growth rate, particularly food production, increased substantially. However, the gains of the Green Revolution were cornered by better off farmers, while marginal farmers and agricultural worker could not gain significantly due to the lack of a land base. Social conflicts became sharper. In the late 60’s and 70’s, radical peasant movements (later labelled "Naxalite") started. The government, however, preferred to treat them as law and order problems, ignoring the socio-economic exploitation that they highlighted.

In the '70s, land distribution to SCs and STs was part of [then Prime Minister] Indira Gandhi's 21 point programme. After the emergency was imposed, pattas [land titles] were distributed. However, without a political agenda and with a reactionary administration, many landless got pattas in paper, but not actual possession.

After continuing this farce for some more years, in the 1990’s the notion of land reform was completely dropped by the political parties because of liberalisation policies. Instead, the trend is now of acquiring huge tracts of land for industrialisation, special economic zones, dams and development of new townships. Some inadequate compensation is being given to landowners who are losing their land. However, little thought is being given by the Government or by social movements to the needs of the huge numbers of agricultural workers who are being displaced by the forced conversion of land from agricultural to other purposes.

In states like West Bengal where some amount of redistribution of land has taken place, in the post liberalisation phase, reverse "land reform" is taking place. Agricultural workers who had received some amount of land are again becoming landless. A survey by Jayati Gupta showed that 33.9% of those surveyed have had to part with land or raise interests at high rates to pay for dowry. The people who were selling or mortgaging their lands for dowry were agricultural labourers and cultivators with small land holdings, or people with small businesses (such as tea shops, van rickshaw pulling etcetera).

During these sixty years of independence all major political parties have had the privilege to rule the country. However, the situation of land distribution is as skewed as in the colonial period.

Ownership of land: Present Status

In the last two or three decades, in real terms, the incidence of landlessness has increased. "Two decades ago, of every hundred families in rural India, 31 families were landless. Today, the figure has gone up to 41 families out of every hundred. "(Times of India: 10 December, 2004). Even in the land-reform-famed West Bengal, the landlessness among the rural agricultural households has reached a new high (39.6% in 1987-88 and 49.8% in 1999-2000).[5]

Landlessness has increased in the post-independent era, particularly amongst the socially oppressed groups. In 1982, the percentages of landless and semi-landless households amongst SCs were 12.6% and 48% respectively. The corresponding percentages among the other rural households were 10.2% and 24.9% However, in 1992, landlessness among SC households increased to 13.3% and semi-landlessness declined to 47.5% while in the case of other households landlessness remained as same at 10.2% and the semi-landlessness increased to 27.4%.[6] Needless to say, almost all women agricultural workers continue to be landless. Land however remains a central demand for agricultural workers, as this would give workers an asset base from which to raise their demands for higher wages and better working conditions. 

Commercialisation of agriculture

Agriculture for commercial purposes started on a large scale in the colonial period with unfortunate consequences for agricultural workers. The Green Revolution in the 1960's and 70's only hastened this trend. The opening up of the Indian economy after the 1990's and globalisation have further advanced this process.

The process has been one of a shift away from using agriculture and allied activities to meet subsistence needs to producing for the market. It has involved a change from using low cost locally available inputs to using inputs like fertilisers, seeds, pesticides etc. that are produced by industry. Agriculture has become increasingly dependent on water intensive methods. Similarly, dependence on external markets for sale of outputs has also increased. All this has meant that agriculture has become a very expensive and risky proposition. For marginal and small farmers, most of whom are also agricultural workers, this has meant greater insecurity and greater indebtedness. With stagnation in agriculture and fall in public investment in the past few years, the consequences have been grave with increasing reports of farmer suicides. "Since 2001, Vidharbha alone has reported 2279 suicides, 728 of them in the past one year".[7]

Another side of the same problem has been that there has been a loss of food security amongst agricultural workers. Where earlier agricultural workers with small plots of land would grow coarse food grains or traditional varieties of paddy that were suitable for the climatic conditions in which they lived, today they rather grow an expensive commercial crop such as soybean or tomato. In the process, dependence on the market for food grains has increased, with an adverse impact on food security. Along with this, free sources of food (e.g. forests; common property resources; freely available fish in fields and wetlands; gleaning of food grains from the fields after harvest etc) have also become scarce. All these sources are now commercially exploited and are therefore out of reach of agricultural workers.

Agricultural workers form the large bulk of those who do not get minimum food requirements of 2400 Kcals per day i.e. those below the poverty line. As per the Government's official estimation, the poverty ratio in India came down to 26% in 1999-2000 from 36% in 1993-94 i.e. a remarkable 10% decline in just five years. But in reality, this has been mere statistical jugglery. "In the rural areas of most of the major states, more than 80% of the population is not able to afford food, which fulfils their calorie requirements. The case of [the state of] Andhra Pradesh is glaring. The official poverty line there is the lowest and consequently poverty ratio estimated by the Planning Commission is only 10%. However, as per our computation 89.4% of population in Andhra Pradesh is not able to afford 2400 Kcal per capita per diem. Similarly, in Gujarat [state], the official poverty line is low and the poverty ratio is 12.4%. The calorie norms, however, require the poverty line to be very much higher and the corresponding poverty ratio turns out to be 86%"[8]

Converting agriculture from a system for production of food and other essentials for those dependent on agriculture into an enterprise that is mainly for profit has also been aggravated in recent years by the entry of the corporate sector into agriculture. WTO's Agreement on Agriculture, leading to the further "integration" of Indian agriculture with world trends will only worsen the situation. For example, new methods such as contract farming have been introduced, where a large company provides all the inputs to a number of farmers and contracts to buy their produce. New forms of powerlessness take birth in the process. With no protection in place for occupational health, agricultural workers risk exposure to high levels of pesticides and genetically modified seeds that are used without the knowledge of workers.

Another development that has been a part and parcel of agriculture becoming an enterprise is the creation of huge amount of unemployment in agriculture. This has been caused by developments such as increasing mechanisation in agriculture; the move towards commercial crops that are less labour intensive (e.g. replacing paddy cultivation with prawn farms); the use of agricultural land for non agricultural purposes etc. Agricultural workers now face huge periods of unemployment or underemployment. "... A field study in two districts in Haryana conducted by the Indian Institute of Women Studies and Development for the ministry of labour found fewer than 50 days of agricultural work a year – 35-43 days for women and 32-44 days for men. …. "[9] According to the "Rural Labour Enquiry", out of 4.65 persons (average household size) in an agricultural labour household (ALH), 2.62 persons or 56.34% are non-'occupied' i.e. unemployed. Only 1.74 persons or 37.42% in ALHs are engaged in agricultural labour. ALHs of green-revolution famed Haryana and Punjab get least agricultural jobs (20.7% and 23.5% respectively). Therefore, incidence of unemployment among the ALHs is maximum (72.4% and 69%) in these states which is well above the national level of 56.1%.

A simultaneous development has been that agricultural workers in growing numbers are being forced to migrate in search of work. Along with this, the distances that people have to go to find work is also increasing. Inter state migration and even migration to other countries in search of work is becoming a common experience for agricultural workers, especially the men folk. In the absence of effective protective legislation, this means that workers end up in strange surroundings open to greater exploitation, living and working in inhuman conditions, often even in conditions of bondage. 

Working Conditions and Labour Rights

According to the Rural Labour Enquiry the minimum daily wages/earnings by Agricultural Labour Households (ALHs) was Rs. 40.15 for men, Rs. 28.38 for women and Rs. 24.23 for child workers in 1999-2000. Therefore, the female workers, on an average, earn 70% and the child workers earn 60% of the wages earned by the male workers.
In many states, average wages received by the workers scarcely touch the lower limit of minimum wages fixed by the respective state governments. Even in states like Haryana and Punjab, agricultural workers get (in 1999-2000) Rs. 60.04 and 63.57 respectively) less than the minimum range (Rs. 71.21 – 72.21 and Rs. 67.25 – 69.80) fixed by the respective state governments. [10]

There are also other problems with the minimum wage fixation. There are large variations in the rate of minimum wages fixed in different states. Thus the statutory minimum wage for agricultural work in Kerala is five times more than that of the states with the lowest statutory wage. The problem is further aggravated by the failure of state governments to revise wages regularly in spite of increase in price index and the reluctance to revise the basic wage in spite of huge rises in price index.

 There is also the need to question the whole method by which minimum wages are determined. The Constitution talks about the living wage in Article 43 and not about the minimum wage. The Supreme Court has also given orders saying that minimum wage should include housing, costs of education, health care, social security etc. A living wage also implies that workers should receive these wages for an eight-hour working day and should receive sufficient money to allow them a weekly holiday after working for six days. However, in actuality, agricultural workers work for pittance wages for long hours that start with the rise of the sun and stops only at sunset.
While the above gives a picture of the (non)-implementation of the Minimum Wages Act, there are other laws that are supposed to provide some protection to agricultural workers. Some of these are as follows:
         Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act 1976 which provides for the release of bonded labour from debt and forced labour.
         Interstate Migrant Workmen's Act 1979 that provides for the registration of workers and the contractors who take them to another state and protects the rights of workers who migrate for work to another state;
         Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1970 provides for the protection of contract workers and their regularisation.
         Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 provides for the banning of employment of children in hazardous occupations and regulation of their conditions of work in other occupations.

The latest in this line of legislation is the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 [NREGA] that provides each rural household with a guarantee of 100 days of work at minimum wages in 200 districts. Also, there is the much debated social security legislation for unorganised sector workers that has been reformulated many times in the past decade. Similarly a comprehensive legislation for agricultural workers has been on the anvil since 1974, but has been resisted each time by the farmers' lobby in various states. At present, two states (Kerala and Tripura) have state level legislation for agricultural workers that provide for both regulation of employment and social security. Tamil Nadu [state] also has a welfare board for agricultural workers that are not fully functional as yet. The Forest Bill that will give rights over forestland to forest dwellers, many of whom are also agricultural workers is also being debated at present in the Parliament.

The plethora of laws that we have listed above have failed even in the minimum possible manner to protect the rights of agricultural workers. The reasons are fairly obvious- on the one hand, it is almost impossible for agricultural workers to organise to get these laws implemented, as all rural power groups ranging from bureaucracy, political leaders, police, land owners and employers are pitted against them. On the other hand, the laws themselves are full of loopholes, the enforcers (the Labour Department) are ineffectual, even where workers get organised enough to fight for their implementation.

Social justice

The rights of agricultural workers cannot be addressed until and unless we also talk about the social discrimination to which they are subjected. We have already mentioned that there is a disproportionate representation of agricultural labour households from amongst SCs and STs. Broadly speaking, it would not be incorrect to say that land owners and employers in agriculture are generally from the upper castes, while agricultural workers are mostly from amongst the dalits and adivasis. We have already given figures on the way land ownership is skewed against dalits and adivasis. Figures on incidence of poverty also show a disproportionate representation from amongst these groups.

 A direct outcome of this is that economic exploitation is inextricably linked with social exploitation. Landowners do not use only economic power to suppress workers- they also use the age-old factor of caste as a means of making agricultural workers feel inferior. Wage struggles and the fight against economic exploitation are turned into caste conflicts by landowners. Upper caste groupings are used to break any attempt by the lower caste agricultural workers to establish their rights. Violence is accompanied by the traditional justification for power of the upper castes over the low castes.

The nexus between class and caste often works to undo the gains that any agricultural worker could make from any new law. This is very clear in the case of NREGA, where union members can see obvious collaboration between the Sarpanches [rural local government functionaries] and bureaucrats, many from the same caste group to make NREGA a failure.

Social exclusion also takes on various shapes in various places- caste, religion, tribal identities, even political party affiliation combine with economic class to ensure that certain groups are oppressed and exploited.

Women in Agricultural Work

In agricultural and forest sectors even though women form a major portion of the workforce, they have virtually no control over resources. The importance of women as cultivators or decision makers within agriculture is declining, with cultivators as percentage of total female population declining from 15.47% to 8.35% from 1961 to 2001 [11].  Right after independence, when changes were brought in the tenurial system, no place was given to women. Rural poor women acquired less than 1 percent of land as owners. All the revenue and land reform acts are highly patriarchal. While joint pattas and pattas for women have recently been started, it would not be an exaggeration to say that almost all women from amongst agricultural workers are landless, with even the homestead being in the name of the man.

Women suffer more from poverty even within their own class, as they have no economic or political power at home and in the public sphere. A study by Sanjoy Basu Mullick in Jharkhand [state] has shown that places where women had greater control over production and forest resources had higher sex ratios, thus showing that there is a direct correlation between women's survival and their control of productive resources.

An important reason for women's low status is that her work is identified as being unproductive. In agriculture especially this is a myth, as much of the work that women do as unpaid domestic work often makes the difference between survival and starvation for poor agricultural worker families. Thus women are engaged in paddy processing and animal husbandry within the household without these being recognised as wage work. Similarly women may be involved in "non-economic" activities like catching fish from canals, collecting of wild fruits, leaves and vegetables and gleaning of grain to supplement the family's food. Maintenance of the family's mud hut is often women's work too as is collection of fodder, fuel and water. At the low wage paid for agricultural work, all these activities contribute to the household's survival. If an economic value was put to this work it would probably amount to more than the wages earned by male members of the family.

In spite of this, women are often victims of violence within the family. With no property rights, women are also in danger of being on the streets if family life breaks down in any way. Problems such as alcoholism amongst their men folk also often force women to live in insecure circumstances. The spread of dowry amongst castes and groups where this practise was absent earlier has also led to an undervaluation of women. A more recent phenomenon is that of men migrating for work, leaving women for long periods without any economic contribution, where single women headed households have to struggle for survival.

Outside the family, as wageworkers, women get the lowest wages. The common stereotype is that “women do less work” and often male workers support the landowner when he pays less to women, from a patriarchal view of women's work. Women are also preferred by owners as workers, because they are also a more docile work force. Sexual harassment at work and even the use of rape by landowners as an instrument to suppress all kinds of protest are also experiences that are faced by women agricultural workers.

An interesting statistic that reflects on women's status within agriculture is that of their employment. According to the Rural Labour Enquiry, in 1999-2000 men agricultural workers received work for 222 days while women workers got work for only 192 days. It is significant to observe here that women lost days of work not so much due to non-availability of work- men lost 36 days due to want of work, and women lost slightly less at 32 days. However, sickness amongst women seems to have been an important reason for loss of work- women lost 77 days due to sickness compared to 31 days for men.

Problems in Organising

Agricultural unions are faced by the following problems when they try to organise their members:
         Stagnation in agriculture has meant that workers face joblessness, and are forced to migrate, resulting in empty villages. It becomes very difficult for unions to organise workers who are absent for long periods from their villages, and who also do not have fixed places of employment
         The employer – employee relationship is not always clearly identifiable. Workers work for multiple employers and for short periods of time with each employer, making it difficult to organise for rights vis a vis the employer.
         Organising across regions and states (sometimes even within a state) is difficult because the levels of development from one region to another are different and therefore people's objective situations differ. This becomes especially tough when we talk about a national level federation.
         Acts and rules for registration of trade unions are not suitable for agricultural workers, being designed primarily with industrial factory based workers in mind. There is also resistance from bureaucracy, making registration of trade unions problematic.
         Agricultural workers live a hand to mouth existence, making it difficult for them to struggle in a sustained manner. They are often not able to meet the costs of running the union through their membership fees, creating a need for external subsidies
         There is no history of collective bargaining in the agricultural sector, nor does the state take any steps to encourage the same.
         The development of class consciousness amongst agricultural workers has not been there. Society also does not recognise them as a class and their interests are often subsumed within the interests of peasants as a whole.

 Our Strategy   

In the short term, we aim to use NREGA and the struggle for comprehensive welfare legislation as a means of organising and expanding our unions. We also aim to deal with social and cultural aspects of exploitation such as gender and caste. We aim to promote membership based organisations of agricultural workers such as trade unions, associations, federations, confederations etc. and to assist unorganised agricultural workers to organise themselves. Through all this we aim to develop an independent voice for agricultural workers.
Our long-term aim is for the community control of all productive resources. As a step towards this we shall work for people oriented land reforms. We shall also gain control over land and other productive resources as and when possible and shall ensure collective ownership of these. 

Our Demands

Charter of demands

We oppose The establishment of Special Economic Zones and the use of agricultural and village lands for industry, mining or mega projects; in addition, the use of the excuse that land is degraded for allotment of land for all the above purposes.
We oppose the increasing pauperisation of agricultural workers through phenomenon such as corporate farming in agriculture.
We also oppose “Reverse” land reform that allows market forces to take over the land market, with large farmers and the corporate sector taking over land from small and marginal farmers.

We demand that land must belong to only those who earn a living from working on the land
We demand that land be redistributed with special emphasis on equal ownership rights for women and that land redistribution be a central issue in the political agenda of the Central and State Government.
We demand that land rights be seen as a livelihood resource and not as property, with collective ownership to ensure the continuity of possession of the land by the landless and the poor peasants.
We demand that land earmarked for distribution to SCs and STs not be given to other groups
We demand that control of common property and natural resources and irrigation water be in the hands of agricultural workers.
We demand that full rights to forest land and forest produce be extended to forest dwellers and that there be community management of forest resources.
We also demand that right to homestead land be an integral part of agrarian reform.
We demand compulsory consultation with agricultural workers in matters that relate to their working conditions and to agricultural policy in general.
We demand that social security identity cards be given to all agricultural workers
We demand a Central comprehensive legislation for agricultural workers with special emphasis on regulation of employment and labour rights, including social security.
We demand qualitative equal educational facility for agriculture workers children must be ensured.
W e demand a Uniform National Living Wages that ensures a standard and honorable living for agricultural workers that is at par with other sections of society, and that workers are paid enough for six days of work to enjoy a paid weekly holiday. Equal remuneration for equal work, irrespective of gender, caste, creed, race, religion and community must be paid.
We demand that a guarantee of minimum working days (300 days) for the agricultural labour force. 
We demand special measures for women workers such as maternity benefits, crèches, and protection from sexual harassment. Unpaid domestic labour must also be recognised for its economic contribution.
We demand provision of essential commodities at subsidised rates by the state.
We demand improved credit facilities by the state to meet emergency consumption needs of agricultural workers, and appropriate credit and technical support for the poor and landless peasants for sustainable agriculture should be ensured.
We demand state managed system for identification, prevention, treatment and compensation for occupational hazards.
We demand a ban on labour displacing machinery in agriculture.

1.The National Alliance Of Agricultural Worker Unions (Alliance) was formed in 2005 to foster links amongst independent agricultural workers unions/organisations and to represent their interests in different forums. It is a secular federation without allegiance to any political party. The primary object of our alliance is to protect and promote our labour rights as agricultural workers in all respects. Presently, the Alliance has 19 member unions with an affiliated membership of about 4 lakhs [400,00]. This paper was finalized in a National Consultation organised by the Alliance in Delhi on 23rd and 24th August 2006
[2] 55th Round of NSS 1999-2000
[3] ibid.
[4] Census of India

[5] West Bengal Human Development Report (2004).
[6] G. Nanchariah
[7] Frontline, September 8, 2006
[8] "Magnifying mal-development" Alternative Economic Survey, 2004    
[9] Times of India, 10 December, 2004
[10] Rural Labour Enquiry 1999-2000

[11]  Census of India


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