PRIORITIES

  • Labour rights
  • Right to work
  • Right to land
  • Dalit rights
  • Women’s rights
  • Access to government programmes
  • Own programmes of individual groups in the network

1. Labour rights (Unionisation)

FEDINA’s frist priority is the implementation of four of ILO’s core labour standards. They are:

  • Freedom of association: workers are able to join trade unions that are independent of government and employer influence;
  • The right to collective bargaining: workers may negotiate with employers collectively, as opposed to individually;
  • The prohibition of all forms of forced labor: prevents workers from being forced to work under duress;
  • non-discrimination in employment: equal pay for equal work.

We organise workers in the informal sector — both in rural and urban areas — into unions so that they have better knowledge of their rights and have bargaining capacity. The unions also fight against bonded labour and for equal wage for equal work. We currently organise workers in the following sectors: garment and textiles, Beedi, agriculture, gem cutting, quarry, brick kiln, construction and few other informal sectors. We also work jointly with other unions.

2. Right to work (Employment guarantees)

FEDINA organises and enables the marginalised to demand employment. Since 2005 we have been helping them tap into the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA) by

  • raising awareness about the scheme
  • fighting for effective implementation
  • demanding equal wages for equal work and
  • auditing, questioning and monitoring the implementation of the scheme.

Under the Act, if those who register and apply for the job are not given a job within 15 days, they are eligible for an unemployment allowance. However, this provision is usually not adhered to. We make the authorities accountable, by enabling the workers to demand this allowance. We use NREGA to develop land of small tribal and dalit lands, and to strengthen the unionisation process of agricultural workers in rural areas so that they are able to negotiate with landlords.

3. Right to land

FEDINA enables dalits, tribals and slum dwellers to reclaim land that is rightfully theirs. Land was allotted by the government to dalits, as they were traditionally not allowed to own land. In the case of tribals, the state by law has to give them land for livelihood and habitation when it displaces them. Both dalit land and tribal land cannot be sold to others as per the Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands (PTCL) Act. However most dalits and tribals have either been dispossessed of their land, or do not have titles as it has been tampered with, or have been evicted or are being evicted by the state. This is an ongoing struggle of dalits and tribals. We use the PTCL Act to fight against these injustices. Fedina’s primary strategy is to collectively get back possession of their land by organising them. We also provide legal assistance where necessary.

4. Fighting discrimination and violence against dalits

FEDINA fights all forms of discrimination and violence that dalits are subjected to in their daily lives. This includes discrimination with regard to entry to temples, tea-shops, access to drinking water, other common resources and means of production like land. We also fight against their abuse and isolation in society.

5. Fighting discrimination and violence against women

FEDINA helps build resistance of women against domestic violence, dowry harassment, sexual harassment at home and in the work place, rape, murder and female foeticide. Fedina has initiated a Domestic Violence Prevention squad that intervenes in domestic violence on the spot. The squads comprise immediate neighbours and FEDINA activists living in the area. They are currently active in Bangalore, Trichy, Kanyakumari and Puducherry. (To know more about FEDINA’s DVP squad, click here)

6. Access to government programmes

FEDINA helps ensure that benefits from government schemes are accessed by the intended target groups. We work on programmes like widow pension, mid-day meal scheme, special component plan for dalits and tribals, housing programmes and government’s scholarship programmes for children from low income workers’ families.

7. Own programmes of individual groups in the network

Fedina also runs programmes on housing, SHGs, organic farming, health and hygiene, and peace and communal harmony.

Our Strategy

FEDINA’s strategy for empowerment involves the following thrusts:

1. Community presence

FEDINA enlists people from within a community to work with the community. Most of our activists come from the marginalised communities that we empower. We believe that they are best suited to understand, articulate and fight discrimination.

2. Forming organisations and groups

FEDINA helps form organisations and groups (preferably unions) of marginalized people so that they can jointly negotiate terms with upper castes, landlords, landowners, employers, elected representatives and appropriate authorities for their rights.

3. Raising consciousness and building awareness about rights

FEDINA undertakes a number of consciousness-raising programmes for marginalised people on their rights. This is done by organizing meetings, conventions, campaigns, seminars and cultural activities like street plays.

4. Capacity building

FEDINA gives a lot of importance to training in order to build capacity of the marginalised communities as well as our activists and staff. We hold training programmes and campaigns on legal provisions and rights on a regular basis.

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