Evolution and Growth of FMRAI
FMRAI was formed in April 1963 in its first conference at Hyderabad, as was resolved in a convention at Nagpur in 1962, where it aimed to improve living conditions of the Medical Representatives. It has travelled a long way in building itself as real trade union body. Form the idea that the medical representatives are not workers but somewhat like white collar employees to demand and agitate for recognition as workmen took almost a decade. The management of the pharmaceuticals industry always isolated the medical representatives from the other workers in the factory and office. There was inhibition from the medical representatives also to consider themselves as a workman.
It was found that the services of the medical representatives (popularly known as field workers) were not regulated under any law. Whenever any attempt of organising was made, the employers used to embark upon them with all kinds of attack. Termination of services particularly those of the leaders was a regular phenomenon. FMRAI demanded of the Govt. to recognise the medical representatives as workmen by clearly defining in the Trade Union Act. It was a lengthy struggle. In 1976 when the democracy of the country was shadowed under state of emergency, a law was enacted as Sales Promotion Employees' (Conditions of Service) Act which was applicable to those medical representatives whose monthly earning was only Rs.650 per month. This deprived a vast number of medical representatives out of the purview of the Act. FMRAI demanded the Govt. to remove the wage ceiling from the Act. Meanwhile, FMRAI in its conference in 1978 included sales representatives of other industries also and demanded the Govt. to extend the benefit of the Act to sales representatives of all industries. In pursuance of these demands FMRAI staged nation wide agitation and several rallies were staged before the Parliament at New Delhi.
The Govt. ultimately removed the salary ceiling for the Medical and Sales Representatives who are legally known as Sales Promotion Employees. But the Govt. agreed to extend the benefit of the law only for 11 industries which FMRAI did not agree.
FMRAI formulated a 27 point common charter of demands which consists of not only extension of benefits of all labour laws for the field workers but also demands for the people on medicines.
Nearly 40 large companies including multinational drug companies have recognised FMRAI as trade union for their field workers and regularly signs wage agreement. Regular meeting on day to day grievances of the field workers is also held with these companies. In regional level, some smaller companies also recognise FMRAI through its Zonal Committees.
FMRAI has become the only national organisation for the field workers in the country having functioning centres known as local units in 300 cities and towns of the country. Its membership has reached nearly 65,000. FMRAI associates its activities with several central trade unions of the country and its members participate to the national programme when jointly called by the central trade unions.
FMRAI has also joined All India People's Science Network (AIPSN) which is a national organisation for science movement. AIPSN actively work in the areas of health and pharmaceuticals. Jointly with AIPSN and with its own initiative, FMRAI has campaigned for a Rational Drug Policy. FMRAI is considered as an important policy critic on Pharmaceuticals Policy of the Govt. FMRAI in the sates actively worked with health action groups and local branches of Indian Medical Association, convened seminars, conventions and other campaigned in different occasions. FMRAI also held number of national seminars at New Delhi along with doctors, scientists, and economists. FMRAI has several publications on the health and drug situation of India. It is the only national trade union which observed nation wide strike against attempt of changing the patents act.
FMRAI is also associated with Jan Sasthya Abhiyan, Peoplrs Health Movement-India which along with 100 different organisation conducts campaign and movement throughout the country. FMRAI and JSA had conducted several Seminars on pharmaceutical policy. FMRAI makes through stydy on the activities of pharmaceutical companies and intervene to policy issues.
FMRAI publishes its organ 'FMRAI News' every month which has a circulation of 38,000 each issues.
As the only functioning national federation of the pharmaceutical industry FMRAI is strongly fighting against the effects of Globalisation.