Trade unions launch nationwide protest Centre’s anti-worker policies

Protests were held across the country and supported by the working class of India


A joint action committee of Central Trade Unions (CTUs) came together to hold nation-wide protests against draconian changes in labour laws, privatisation of government departments and PSUs and for rights of unorganized sector workers. Members of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hindu Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) among others observed Nationwide Protest Day on July 3, 2020 throughout the country, in all workplaces and centres as a united struggles of Non-Cooperation and Defiance to anti-worker, anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-national policies of the Govt. The action programmes were reportedly organised in almost one lakh places in all states in all workplaces, union offices, on roads and streets.

Protests took place at the Shram Shakti Bhawan in New Delhi, at a Vizag steel plant, a motorcycle rally was taken out in Punjab and demonstrations were held in over 1 lakh places in the country, including Puducherry, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Odisha and Maharashtra among others.


A statement by the CTUs said that through the protests, they “reiterated their opposition to disinvestment and wholesale privatisation of Public Sector Enterprises, 100 percent FDI in core sectors – Indian railways, Defence, Port and Dock, Coal, Air India, Banks, Insurance Privatisation of Space Science & Atomic Energy etc., steps in favour Corporates of Indian & Foreign brands to usurp natural resources and business of the country while mouthing behind the slogan of Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat. The decision of DA freeze of 48 lakh Central Government Employees and DR freeze of 68 lakh pensioners, which is also having impact on the state government employees, is not withdrawn despite vehement opposition from Government employees and CTUs. Neither the demand of cash transfer of Rs.7500/- to all non-income tax paying persons accepted.”


The CTUs added, “With the opening up of some industrial units, all workers are not being taken back, only a small percentage is finding their place back in jobs and that also on reduced wages and refusal to pay lockdown period salary. Such denial of employment and pressing for wage-reduction have to be unitedly combated.”



The unions added that adding the total number of unemployed persons who are out of a livelihood at present, including those working as daily wagers, contract workers and casual workers amounts to more than 24 crores. The rate of unemployment had reached 27 percent by April. It said that Medium and Small Enterprises themselves reported that 30 to 35 percent of units may not be able to begin activities. Speaking about the issues enraging workers, the CTUs quoted the Indian Labour Organization which said that more than 40 crore people would be pushed into deeper poverty and in the coming times, malnutrition would increase and hunger deaths would become a daily reality. They also spoke about eminent scientists and medical experts warning of the threat of depression and suicides among workers who have been dealt with insensitively during the pandemic.


Speaking about the Central government’s handling of the pandemic, the CTUs alleged, “Modi government has most insensitively dealt with the problem of Covid-19 as a law and order issue instead of treating it as a medical emergency for the human being and society. It has caused immense miseries to millions of workers, farmers and other vulnerable sections of the society. Whereas, the Government stood only by Corporates & big businesses.”

Concluding their statement, the CTUs said, “A Government which has no respect and concern, towards the rights and basic survival-entitlements of workers and the people does not deserve any co-operation. We the workers/employees and trade unions need to do everything possible to be in solidarity with each other, unitedly face the disease taking all precautions necessary, stand with each other to defend our rights of unionization, collective bargaining, decent working conditions, wages & future securities etc. This government has demonstrated cruel insensitivity of the basic human needs of the workers and people. This cannot be endorsed and cooperated with the leaders said while addressing the gathering at Shram Shakti Bhawan.”

Strike against Railway Privatisation

Recently, CITU had reacted strongly to the Central government’s Request For Qualification (RFQ) extended to the private corporates, both Indian and international, for operating passenger train services over 109 pairs of stations. The CITU has called this an “anti-national” move by the government. According to a statement issued by Tapan Sen, General Secretary. The CITU has alleged that this move has put “Indian Railways, the pride of India and its precious wealth, on sale”.

Some of the companies who have bid for the same are Adani Ports, Tata Realty and Infrastructure, Essel Group, Bombardier India and Macquarie Group, Moneycontrol reported. Adani Ports owns one of the largest private railway lines in India which spans 300 km and connects ports and other business hubs for cargo movement. It also set up its own subsidiary to focus on metro rail projects.

In 2018, Essel Infraprojects Ltd won the first railway project for Rs 17.06 billion on the Eastern Freight Corridor connecting Howrah and Chennai mainline. In May, Bombardier India won the contract to supply 210 commuter and metro cars for the Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System.

CITU had highlighted that the Union government’s claim of a Rs 30,000 crore investment and employment generation had no meaning as the drainage due to loss of revenue to the Indian Railways in these revenue generating routes and that the potential loss of employment due to privatisation would be much higher than any fresh employment which would not guarantee permanent jobs or social security.



Coal workers strike


More than half a million coal workers also participated in the protests opposing the privatisation of the coal sector through the government throwing open 41 coal blocks mainly in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. Activist Stan Swamy had shed light on the fact that most of these coal blocks to be auctioned are located in Adivasi-inhabited areas, on Adivasi land and forests. None of the stakeholders, including the state governments were consulted before opening up these blocks for commercial mining. Throughout the country, irrespective of their political affiliation, collieries participated in the strike to oppose the government’s plan to privatize Coal India Limited (CIL) or sell of mines in Singareni.



Farmers, contractual and casual workers join strike

The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee – which consists of 130 farmers’ groups – also expressed solidarity to the Friday protest, saying that “the lockdown is being used by the central government to enact laws against farmers and workers to swiftly implement policies that promote and support corporates,” Newsclick reported. Demonstrations by the All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU) and MGNREGA workers were also held across Punjab and Maharashtra.

The Defence civilian employees also joined the strike in opposition to the government’s decision to corporatize the Ordinance Factory Board, allow private players to operate army workshops, abolition of posts in military engineer service and army units, outsourcing and FDI in defence and reduction of manpower in the Directorate General of Quality Assurance, The Times of India reported.

TOI also reported that in Tiruvananthapuram, Trivandrum Airport Casual workers trade unions decided to continue the token strike at the airport against the layoff of ground by Air India SATS. We were informed that cargo operations were hit due to unavailability of employees. The members of all trade unions, CITU, INTUC and BMS are jointly participating in the strike. The company has over 900 staff at the airport, which includes 200 managerial staff. We had requested them not to terminate the staff during the lockdown and that we are ready to take a salary cut. They terminated senior staff with nine years of experience, while retaining newly-recruited staff,” P Rajendradas, general secretary, Trivandrum International and Domestic Airport Contract Workers Union (CITU) told TOI.

Another glimpse of the working class of India who is fighting for its rights, may be viewed below.




Privatising Indian Railways is anti-national: CITU

ASHA Workers on Covid-19 duty demand safety gear, healthcare, insurance and better wages



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