Huge protest by workers demand pro-people policies

Trade unions came together in the national capital to demand an end to privatisation, universal PDS, social security and higher wages and pension among other things

Photo by Pramod Pushkarna
Photo by Pramod Pushkarna

Ashutosh Sharma

For the second successive day on Friday, thousands of demonstrators under the banner of central trade unions barring BJP-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), poured into the national capital to protest against privatisation of PSUs and anti-worker policies of the Union Government.

On the second day, over 70,000 workers from Bihar, Orissa, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh participated in the ongoing demonstration close to the Parliament. Protests will continue on Saturday.

Reckless privatisation of public utilities such as health, education, transport, railways, financial services, electricity and water, trade union leaders accused the Modi Government of severely compromising national interest to serve the interests of MNCs, under the veil of Make in India.

Castigating Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “Rashtra Virodhi”, Amarjeet Kaur, national secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) said: “Economy is in doldrums. Unemployment is on the rise. Price rise is acute. Workers do not get even minimum wages. But the government adds to the misery by making linking of Aadhar mandatory for rations. In the name of food security millions have been rendered insecure and starved of food.”

Photo source: AITUC
Photo source: AITUC
Amarjeet Kaur, national secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) addressing the rally

The 12-point charter demands the following:

  • Universalisation of PDS and banning of speculative trade in commodity market
  • Decentralisation of economic development and stop concentration of wealth
  • Enforcing basic labour laws without exception or exemption
  • Universal social security cover for all workers
  • Minimum wages not less than ₹18,000
  • Monthly pension of not less than ₹3,000 for the entire working class population.
  • Halting disinvestment and strategic sale of both central and state PSUs.
  • A stop to hiring workers on contract in work of permanent nature and ensuring equal wages as regular workers
  • Removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus, provident fund and increase in gratuity.
  • Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of submission of application; and immediate ratification of ILO Conventions C-87 and C-98.
  • Withdrawal of drastic labour law amendments and,
  • Scrapping FDI in Railways, insurance and defence.

“If the NDA government continues to ignore the genuine demands of the workers, CTUs will intensify protests that may paralyse the whole country,” said BV Vijayalakshmi, secretary AITUC.

“When first Prime Minister of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru started setting up PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) he called them as temples of modern India. But Narendra Modi government has been turning these ‘temples’ into graveyards,” said Indian National Trade Union Congress all India president, G Sanjeeva Reddy.

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