The District Collector
Greetings from Rights education and development centre(READ)
Sub: Petition to file First Information Report (FIR) under Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 in the case of rescue of 138 bonded labourers including 44 children below the age of 14 years on 15th & 16th October 2012.
Ref: First Petition dated 16.10.2012 submitted in person to the District Collector at Erode.
READ, is working for child rights, women rights, manual scavengers and the rights of Dalits . It is working against exploitative child labour, camp coolie system and bonded labour. Our Textile and Garment industry is the second largest employment provider after agriculture in Tamilnadu. Despite industrial growth and growing employment for the poor, there are 200,000 girls working as bonded labourers under sumangali scheme (camp coolie system). Most of them are less than 18 years and many even less than 14 years.
Tamil Nadu State Government has accepted the fact that girls are employed under camp coolie scheme in textile mills in its affidavit to Madras High Court on 14/2/2007. The Judgment of the High Court of Madras on 30/04/2009 has recalled that India has ratified core ILO conventions and bound to accept ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which is an expression of commitment by governments, organizations of workers and employers, to uphold basic human values that are vital to social and economic lives. Recently, Union Cabinet Ministers meeting has cleared the proposal to prohibit the employment of all children below the age of 14 years in any industry. Employing a child under 14 for any work will be a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment up to two years or a fine up to Rs 50,000 or both, an increase from the current one-year jail or Rs 20,000 punishment. Restrict non-hazardous work to adolescents between the age of 14 and 18 years.
The child labour practices are found to be rampant in the textile mills in Erode district. It is evidently proved by the rescue of 138 bonded labourers in the age group of less than 18 years including 44 children below the age of 14 years on 15th & 16th October 2012. Parents of the children have taken advance, the children are kept in prison type accommodation, they are forced to work for 12 hours a day more 12 and they are provided poor quality of food and drinking water. All of them lived in a poor sanitary condition with just two toilets. They are not permitted to communicate with their families and outside world. It is clear case of bonded labour.
While we appreciate the efforts of District Administration to rescue the child labourers, we are also equally concerned about rehabilitation of rescued children. In this context, we demand the following: -
1. We kindly request you to file FIR under Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and initiate action as per the offences and procedures of trial of the Act against the perpetuators of this heinous crime.
2. Please initiate a detailed enquiry against the mill to understand the bonded labour practices and to issue “Release Certificate” to the rescued children under Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
3. We request you to file additional charges against the mill under the Child Labour (Regulation and Prohibition Act, 1986, Section 26 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act, 2000 as it deals with the exploitation of a Juvenile or Child Employee below 18 years and punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable for fine. So that fine recovered from violators shall be used for the rehabilitation of bonded children with safe accommodation, education and skill trainings
4. Please order inspection of all relevant officials in all the textile mills located in Erode District
We hope that you will agree with our meaningful demands based on the rights enshrined in our Constitution, Labour laws, Orders of the Supreme Court, High Court of Madras and ILO core conventions ratified by our country.
Sathyamangalam, Erode District
Mobile: +91 98420 90035