Shramik Ekta Mahasangh finally woke up to challenge the exploitative scheme NEEM [National Employability Enhancement Mission] by filing a public interest litigation. It was coming, everybody was expecting it to happen, and it was certainly long overdue! Pune based Shramik Ekta Mahasangh is affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union. While the affiliation is certain to raise eyebrows, there is no doubt that NEEM has proved to be a license of exploitation.
I have written many a times against NEEM. Here is a quick recap:
The scheme is, like all schemes are, noble in its intention. A Neem Agent is required to be registered. A Neem Agent then can place a trainee [up to 10 Thousand] in industry. Who can they be? Read this:
A person who has completed graduation / diploma or a person pursuing studies leading to graduation / Diploma and registered under NEEM is called a Trainee under NEEM
A person seeking training under NEEM shall be at least 18 years of age and not more than 35 years of age [now raised to 40!] as on the date of registration. [Note the outer limit!]
A person seeking training under NEEM may be either pursuing his or her graduation / diploma in any technical or nontechnical stream or may have discontinued studies of degree or diploma course
This has been interpreted by some to mean that even MBAs [typically from resource-starved institutes] can be engaged as trainees. Actually the definition allows practically anybody to be engaged as a trainee.
The duration can be 24 months, [now amended to be 36 months]. And the Neem scheme has provided a list of 23 industries in which such trainees can be placed. The list covers all important industries.
The Neem trainees are to be paid a salary matching unskilled worker’s minimum wage. And they have to observe the office timings.
Outwardly this scheme appears to be well designed which is supposed to serve its agenda of “offering ‘on the job’ practical training to enhance employability of graduates / diploma holders or students pursuing graduation / diploma to increase their employability.” The problem is that a similar scheme is in vogue in Maharashtra and is grossly misused. Just in case you are not aware of the extent of misuse in the industry, please take a look at my blog post, the link to which is given as a footnote. You will readily see that the scheme in Maharashtra has only fostered gross exploitation of labour which is gleefully engaged in by unscrupulous employers.
Now Shramik Ekta Mahasangh has filed a public interest litigation challenging NEEM before the Bombay High Court. There is no doubt that NEEM allows exploitation of ‘trainees’ and it deserves to be struck down. It has only helped spread precariat.
The industry and the unions will watch the outcome anxiously.
Watch the video here to understand the NEEM abuse.
Vivek S Patwardhan
PS: Thanks to Mr Santosh Kanse, President, Shramik Ekta Mahasangh for pointing out some changes to NEEM. I had originally put photographs which I had taken in 2013, but removed on his suggestion.