Collectivising Workers

Aajeevika has actively promoted occupation-based workers’ collectives to enable platforms for migrant workers’ unity and representation.

Migrant workers constitute a highly dispersed group, spread across multiple urban locations and sectors of work. High levels of mobility, resulting from the circular and seasonal nature of migration, puts constraints on the group’s ability to come together and have a shared voice representing their interests. This lack of mobilization further disempowers this group, rendering them invisible and curtailing their ability to make any demands on the state or industry. Organising migrant workers into collectives or unions with a strong cadre of leaders is key to strengthening their voice, and empowering this group to engage in effective advocacy with state and industry actors.

At present, there are over 8 worker collectives nurtured by Aajeevika in existence, which together represent thousands of workers from Rajasthan, UP, Bihar, Odisha, and other states. The Aravalli Nirmaan Mazdoor Suraksha Sangh in Udaipur, Pathar Gadhai in Pindwara, Baandhkaam Mazdoor Vikas Sangh in Ahmedabad, Pravasi Shramik Suraksha Manch in Surat and the Kamgaar Sahayta Samiti in Mumbai - are some examples of powerful worker collectives and unions that Aajeevika Bureau has helped seed across prominent migrant destinations. Work sectors covered by these unions include - construction, stone-carving, textile, hotel and manufacturing.

A large part of Aajeeevika’s work is embedded in these community institutions. These groups lend sustainability to our work. Several unions that we helped promote are spearheaded by community leaders who not only expound a vision for a labour-just world, they also inspire a vast cadre of workers to stand up for their rights and demand fairness and equity from the state and their employers.