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Global Warming: Jeopardy of unorganised labours

Jobs pick up in Asia, but things are still tough: ILO

Sunny Pratap

Global Warming is impacting the marginal community in ways we can’t imagine. Amongst the marginal community, the most affected sector is unorganized labourers which include home-based workers, self-employed workers, or wage workers. The summers of 2022 were the hottest in the last 122 years, as per the data from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

The most probable reason for this is  Global Warming. The summer became even more unbearable when the heat waves started much early as compared to the regular cycles. The temperature wasn’t rosy for even the National capital Delhi as It experienced 25 days of heat waves. It was much more than the last decade as per the data from Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

Improving livelihood of marginal communities. Source: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

Ram 65 years old, who hails from Uttar Pradesh works as daily wage labour in Delhi and is one of the prime sufferers of Global Warming. “This time loo (heatwave) was almost unbearable for me. During one of the summer days, when I was working on the roof I realized that my skin layer got burnt because of the hot sun but I had to continue working because of the debt I am in”. 

“One day I felt uneasy and fainted and so the labourers nearby moved me to a shady place. They gave me some water and medicine but despite of all this, I couldn’t skip my work because my sons are jobless and  I have to pay for my as well as their livelihood, if I don’t work a day, my family would sleep hungry. We don’t have a fixed duration of work hours, it depends on the mood of the contractor” said Ram.

Global Warming impacts labours. Source: Commons.wikimedia

Many unorganized workers are doing different jobs in which they are not directly under the sun’s rays but still face many other problems. Lalu Raza who is from the Gopalganj district of Bihar works as a painter in Delhi. “This time summer was problematic for me too. Although I was working under a roof, I was sweating very frequently and the rate of sweating was so high that I got dehydrated and fainted.  Frequent intake of water also didn’t help me and I went through a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, and headaches. Par hm kar kya sakte hair, pet ka sawal hai( We can’t do anything because it is a matter of living).” said Lalu Raza.

Workers from the unorganized sector are hopeless about their better working conditions as they are always ignored when the policies are framed.  Post-COVID-19 The government of India brought an amendment to the labor code which was not in the favor of labourers.

Many organisations who claim to work for their betterment didn’t even utter a word in response to the amendment. Surya Prakash secretary of Delhi State Council, All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU). “Amendment done by the government of India was taking away the rights of the labourers from their hands. They have changed the definition of scale industries and benefited the industry owners instead. You won’t believe that even their right to protest was taken away through such amendments. Government brought schemes but those are not effective. They have failed to provide them with good health policies and working conditions.

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Any casualties due to climatic disasters are unreported because of the fear of compensation that they would have had to pay. There is an absence of scientific methods for registering such casualties, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) says they are taking data as per the media reports. You can see the hypocrisy of the government that they can wipe off the loans of industrialists but don’t have the funds to report such things fairly.

Global Warming impacts labours. Source: Flickr

The amendment also creates unemployment which leaves fewer opportunities for unorganized workers. We are protesting on such things but mainstream media and ignorance on part of civil society makes the issue weak.” said Surya Prakash.

Many organizations who are working on Global Warming are very concerned about marginalized societies working on the ground so they know about the reality. Vijay Seharwat who is a core team member of Youth for Climate India and working on the issues of Global Warming said “Marginalized society people are the worst affected by Global Warming as it affects people based on their class. Temperature is increasing every coming year and the summers are becoming hotter than ever.

These workers don’t have facilities like air conditioners, or coolers so sleeping well for them is a distinct dream.  Lack of proper sleep is also affecting their mental, as well as physical health. They are living in urban slum areas of Delhi therefore we all know the state of hygiene they must be living in.

Mosquito breeding. Source: Ssivix lab

Mosquito breeding also hit its high during the season which leads to several dangerous diseases like dengue, malaria, yellow fever, and chikungunya. The Government is not even acknowledging the issue forget resolving them. As per the International Labor Organization 2030, this will create huge disparity in society.”

The fate of this sector completely lies in the hands of the government, a government who don’t even consider its existence.

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