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Workers in the labour intensive brick kiln sector are widely recognised to be one of the most exploited sections of the working class in India. Majority of the workers are seasonal migrants-intra state as well as inter-state migrating with their family for six months. In order to address the issue of vulnerability of getting into bondage situation, the project on Reducing Vulnerability to Bondage in India through Promotion of Decent Work was initiated in the year 2008 as a pilot in Tamil Nadu with joint collaboration of Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE), GOI ; International Labour Organization (ILO), India and the Department of Labour and Employment Tamil Nadu. The project has been later extended in 2011 to 6 states in India. The project is now operational in states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chattishgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. Each state is at different stage of progress. Within each state, few pilot districts have been selected to operationalize the activities. The project is owned by the State, anchored by the State Labour Department, with MoLE and ILO providing technical support to the states.

Need for Scouting Rural Brick Kiln Technology

Every year, around October-November, brick kiln workers migrate to other districts of their own States or different States in search of their livelihood and to protect themselves from the abject poverty. They return to their source villages after a period of 6-9 months, when it rains marking the end of the brick making season. Brick kiln workers are exposed to poor living and working conditions coupled with poor remuneration. Lack of tools and techniques to reduce drudgery, makes brick making a very labour intensive process. The crude techniques used in some parts have helped, but these techniques need to be refined further and disseminated widely. Several reports have confirmed that the workers and their children are exposed to high concentrations of Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM), more often during the firing of the bricks (where ash is used as insulator) or during preparation of dough using fly ash, which is often stored uncovered. The workers carry the raw (green) brick and fired (red) bricks on their heads/shoulders with an average load of 9-12 kgs which causes health problems, including stunted growth in younger children and young adults, cracking of skulls and women are particularly affected. The workers do not get any occupational health and safety training, often sit in awkward position for hours for brick molding, and do not use boots/gloves while mixing the dough. These result in small and major injuries, cuts, bruises, postural problems, and body aches. Lack of access to medical care/primary healthcare facilities often aggravates the problems. Lack of clean environment, absence of safe drinking water often results in disease such as tuberculosis and diarrhoea. Even though the brick workers are exposed to these occupational hazards, coverage under any sort of insurance or medical facilities is virtually unheard off.

Not just adult, the children are also in equally vulnerable position and are exposed to the hazards associated with the brick kiln industry. Lack of access to school for their children, and lack of motivation to send children to school, if available is often a cause of children working along with their parents in hazardous conditions.

In view of the above, it is proposed to scout for rural grassroots technologies (which are more mechanical in nature rather than resource intensive/power consuming) which can reduce drudgery of the adult workers and promote better and safe working environment, are ergonomically designed to reduce occupational disease/ailments. These technologies may also enhance productivity and allow for example more number of bricks to be molded per day, enhancing the wages for the workers (which are currently piece rated wages) or may reduce wastages, also enhancing productivity and better remuneration for the workers. Some of these technologies may also eliminate the use of children, as they may require higher physical strength or are so designed that they can be used by adult workers.

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1 Comment

  1. Pranay Taranga Das

     /  May 26, 2016

    We want to know mor about this prodoct,please inform us.


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