Agricultural workers constitute the most neglected class in the Indian rural structure. Their income is low and employment irregular. They are not organized because they are scatted across the country in 5.6 lakh villages.1
Agricultural Labour Enquiry Committee defined agricultural labour as a person who, for more than half of the total number of days, worked as an agricultural labour. An agricultural labour may be the small or marginal farmer or an artisan, but when a person derives his main earning by doing some agricultural work on others farm is called an agricultural labour.2
Classification of Agricultural Labourers can be divided into four categories
- Landless Labourers, who are attached to the land lords;
- Landless labourers, who are personally independent, but who work exclusively for others;
- Petty farmers with tiny bits of land who devote most of their time working for others
- Farmers who have economic holdings but who have one or more of their children and dependands as share croppers /lease holders working for other prosperous farmers or absentee landlords.
APVVU is a federation of mandal level agriculture workers unions spread over in 14 districts of Andhra Pradesh. The genesis goes back1980’s where the agriculture is predominantly in the hands of dominant caste landlords directly involved in managing the farms engaging bonded labour / attached labour and casual agriculture workers. Some agricultural workers do engage in sharecropping in the lands of absentee landlords. The common phenomena prevailed in Andhra Pradesh was that no where agriculture workers paid minimum wages and no equal wages between men & women low share for share croppers - 1:3 ratio between sharecroppers and absentee landlords respectively while the Tenancy Act profess the reverse ie. 3:1 ratio between sharecroppers and the land owners. Although, 58% of agricultural operations are contributed by female labour, their contribution to agrarian economy has not been recognized. In addition to the drudgery of domestic work fall in the hands of rural women as their bound duty in the family, they have to work freely in the landlords house before going to the field as agriculture workers. This amounts to almost 15 to 18 hours of work for women agriculture workers. Sexual abuse at work place by landlords is also common for women agriculture workers.
APVVU strength is that the recognisation of Identities of poor informal workers in accordance with the principle of Unity in Diversity. It bring more and more Rural informal workers together as part of Federation but they will continue to keep their identities with in the union to share and influence each others concerns and thereby draw support. The agricultural workers are considered as Dalits, as Adivasis , as Fisher people , as shepherds and new class of workers as NREGA workers. Women and Children as the cross cutting issues.
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