Build Broad based Struggle! Come Out And Join Week Long IFTU Campaign!
Nearly two months post the severest lockdown in the world in response to the corona pandemic, where is India? People have been told by rulers to look after themselves, cases gallop upwards, no additional govt. health care has been developed, economy is in shambles. And every single assurance doled out by the Modi Govt. to all sections of the working class at the start of the lockdown stands betrayed.
Under the excuse of fighting pandemic and helping the workers while actually using the lockdown to launch a massive attack, labour laws have been targeted. Beginning with a threat to impose Labour Codes centrally through Ordinances, the actual attack is from state govts with the blessings of the Central Govt. Thus UP Govt has sent an Ordinance for Presidential approval, which suspends most labour laws for over three years in the name of the pandemic. MP Govt has a somewhat similar proposal, suspending many sections of several laws for the same period. 7 other governments of Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Goa have pitted for 12 hour workdays for three months or indefinitely, with some offering to pay workers four hours overtime per day when they are not even enforcing minimum wage. The Central Govt. itself has stopped payment of DA to all employees and pensioners till July 2021! Many state governments like Telangana and Andhra have deducted wages of state employees in order to ‘finance’ fighting the virus; Kerala Govt has innovatively taken compulsory ’loan’ from the wages.
The tall promises of Modi Govt. that not a job would be lost and no one’s wage would be cut while not a tenant would be harassed, have been shown up as fake already. The much-touted Packages of 10% of GDP for relief to people, is hardly worth a fraction of that amount, gives no relief and only gives loans. The Industrial Package gives no real support to MSMEs to pay wages to workers, gives no direct financial support to workers of any section, and two months late talks of rations for all, without any provision of the same in reality. Rather the upper limit to be counted as an MSME has been raised to allow big players to corner benefits of loans etc. EPF contributions have been reduced from 12% to 10 % to reduce the burden on Central Govt which has said it will pay dues for three months for some sections. Direction of Central Govt for payment of wages for lockdown period to employers has also been withheld in the fourth lockdown order. Besides, big industrial houses, MNCs and retails are showing the way in openly announced retrenchments, which Govt of India is not declaring illegal.
And all over the country, the producers of wealth, the builders of skyscrapers, the service providers, are walking and walking and walking. Blisters on feet, bloodied tracks of feet, hungry, children exhausted, working women delivering, getting up and walking again with the newborn. Over 500 have died of exhaustion, accidents or fatigue, including a 12year old tribal migrant agricultural worker, such is India’s reality! No provisions were created by the Central Govt even through state governments, to actually provide workers with rations, adequate shelter or even living wages. Hunger is all pervasive, black marketing rampant, police violence the real face of governance for unorganized working class especially interstate migrants. And the highest Court opines all is well in govt. care! Workers desperate to go home beaten black and blue,cases on them under Epidemic Act. In jails inso many other places for being hungry or on the roads or protesting. Shramik Expresses, too little too late, with the actual intent to forcibly retain migrant workers, like slaves, to man reopening work centres.
The working class must fightback the attacks of the Modi Govt and must come out in open protests. We are the force that keeps the country’s industries running, its services working. Unite in struggles and demand:
1.No to any changes in labour laws in any state. No imposition of Labour Codes.
2.No 12 hr workday.As many shifts as needed to give jobs to all workers, with pay remaining as of old.
- Each and every worker who wants is to be transported home for free and with food enroute by Central govt. Quarantine in clean facilities with food should be responsibility of natal govt. Immediate transport to every worker where ever he is walking. No compulsory download of Arogya app for travel on trains or buses. NO Worker is to be denied transport home due to lack of money. 50lakh to each who died going home just as Central govt will pay health workers who die from covid. These are state murders. No slave labour. Each one who wants to go has to be allowed to do so.
- All workers have to be paid wage of April and March. For MSMEs central govt pays or states pay and keep reclaiming. Also to all workers who came home, central govt. pay till one month after transport opens or lockdown full lift, whichever later.
- All returned workers be paid unemployment allowance of 5000 for 6 months paid by central funds through natal govt.
All construction workers, registered or not, pay min wage by board for 6 months. All scheme workers and Aashabe paid same by central govt.for 6 months. All contract and casual also.
6 Free govt. health care for every covid positive worker. Strengthen public health care. 5% GDP health budget now. Takeover all private hosp. open routine care inESIand ESI for all workers.Transport open.
- Universal full ration doorstep delivery for 6 months. Empty the godaams of grains and give food to people.
- No retrenchment, no lock out, no layoffs. Ensure withdrawal of all retrenchment orders.
- Hospital workers, sanitation, Aasha should get patient care allowance or risk allowance.
10 Restore democratic rights. Release prisoners and withdraw all cases framed during pandemic.No arrests. Withdraw all cases under colonial Epidemic Act. Scrap this Act.
- Masks for all workers to be given by govts at workplace. Give scope for physical distancing in colonies by opening public spaces and relocating workers.
12.Universal social security stat. Universalize MGNREGA.
IFTU calls for a protest week on the above demands from the 20th of May to the 27th of May 2020. Propagate the Call for struggle widely. To propagate demands, outside workplaces, in industrial areas and factory gates hold demonstrations with masks and distancing.
We are the builders and producers of this country. Let us assert it.
National committee, Indian Federation of Trade Unions.
May 19, 2020