IFTU condemns arrest of workers in Surat (Gujarat)

Gujarat Govt, Withdraw Charges Against Arrested Workers in Surat!

Ensure Wages, Dignified Existence to Workers!

In a mammoth tragic expression of the contemptuous attitude of govts towards workers, hundreds of migrant workers poured out onto the streets of Surat on 10th April night. They demanded wages, they demanded they be provided food in a dignified manner. In response, the Gujarat Govt used police rather than labour and govt officials to address the issues of tbe workers. Police arrested over 80 workers, exposing the Gujarat Govt’s incompetence in dealing with the real issue of migrants in a state whose industry flourishes on their sweat.

The workers have been rendered jobless due to unplanned kneejerk lockdown announced by the Central Govt. Neither the promises of wage payments were meant to be real, neither they are. Govt told the Supreme Court of how well they were being looked after in shelters. It said they were trying to walk home due to fearmongering by social media. The Surat workers came out in hordes as they had got no wages. They complained they had no rations, that they had to stand in long lines to get a meal. These migrants are those whose work fills coffers, not some dependents needing food doles. They have been forced into this position by callous governance. Govts bring back students from abroad as universities and cities shut down; why were the workers not sent back with the same care when tbeir work and cities shut down? They knew govts wouldn’t care less about them, that wagelessness and hunger and indignity awaited them, that is why migrant workers tried to walk home.

Central Govt, it is incumbent on you; you announced wages and food and shelter for all workers if they stayed where they are. All cases on the Surat workers must be withdrawn; Release them. Ensure Gujarat Govt ensures wages for them. There must be doorstep delivery of full rations to the workers. If in shelter homes, there must be dignified delivery of adequate food. Phone services should be made free so that workers can speak to their families. Otherwise, if the Gujarat Govt is unable to comply with the promises made, it must ensure dignified and safe transport for these migrants back to their home states. The reason for lockdown is stated to be for protection of the people. Then what right have govts to treat  people like disposables?

Aparna                                    Pradeep
President                                General Secretary
National Committee