Indian Labour on Warpath Against Modi Government

The main slogan for 28th- 29th All-India strike was “Save People, Save Nation”. Trade unions across the country on March 28-29, 2022, went on a two-days All-India strike in protest against the anti-labour policy of the government. Around 24 crore workers and employees all over the country joined this strike. The strike call was given by the joint trade union platform of ten central trade unions (INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, TUCC) and independent sectoral federation of central government, state government, bank and insurance federation and association.

The Engineering Coal, SAIL, BHEL, NHPC, NTPC, Power Grid, Postal, Oil, Copper, Telecom, started the strike from March 28. In Kerala, joint platform workers started strike from 27.03.2022, 12 mid-night. The employees of Rly. Defence, reported militant demonstrations at more than one thousand places in the country. The Anganwadi workers, Asha, mid-day meal, and domestic workers, construction, beedi and agriculture workers self-employed, vendors participated in protest actively in several hundred places, chakka jam, road rail roko programme in various places of the country. The 28 and 29 March ‘Bharat Bandh’ was a grand success.

There were Bandh like situations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Assam, Haryana, Jharkhand. Shops and industrial establishments were closed. The farmers organization mobilized in rural areas as per the decision of Samyukta Kisan Morcha in favour of workers’ demands. The major demands of Indian Labourers are:

• Scrapping the four Labour Codes. • Accept 6-point charter of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha. • No to Privatisation in any form and scrap the NMP. • Food and Income Support of Rs. 7500 per month to non-income tax paying households. • Increased allocation for MGNREGA and extension of Employment guarantee Scheme to urban areas. • Universal social security for all informal sector workers. • Statutory Minimum wage and social security for Anganwadi, ASHA, Mid-day-meal and other Scheme workers. • Proper protection and insurance facilities for frontline workers serving the people in the midst of pandemic. • Increase in public investment in agriculture, education, health and other crucial public utilities by taxing the rich through wealth tax etc., in order to revive and revamp the national economy. • Reduction in Central Excise duty on petroleum products and concrete remedial measures to arrest price rise. • Regularisation of contract workers, scheme and equal pay for equal work. • Cancellation of NPS and restoration of old pension.

The Government of India is not calling the annual Indian labour conference and standing committee on labour, which is the most powerful tripartite consultation government forum for labour. Also, the Government is not completing the central trade union verification process and not nominating INTUC representatives in various committees.

Along with other demands already formulated and being pressed for by the Joint Platform of CTUs and Federations/Associations called for 2-days countrywide General Strike on 28-29 March during the Budget Session of Parliament in 2022 with the slogan ”SAVE THE PEOPLE AND SAVE THE NATION”. For Indian labour, 28 and 29 March strike is not the end, it is the beginning of a powerful national labour movement against anti-labour Modi Government.

The Author is an Ex-MP & National Vice President, INTUC and Chairman Working Group for Migrant Labour of Building and Wood Workers International