The Workers, toilers, migrant workers, professionals, farmers etc were all facing problems due to the lockdown caused by the Covid pandemic. The Central and State Governments have not done anything to help them. Even though there was an order recognising that workers were entitled to wages during the lockdown and that there should not be any reduction in the workforce during this time, the majority of the establishments did not give wages to the permanent or to the contract and casual workers. Even when there was a huge accumulation of grains in the governments godowns the poor, the toilers, the needy and the migrant workers were not given sufficient provisions in time. Due to this the poor are facing starvation. Especially the migrant workers who have faced tremendous privations and have been forced to go on foot in the hot sun to their states or their districts. During this migration, many have died in accidents.
The 20 lakh crore package announced by the Prime Minister is a farce and there is not direct aid to the workers, toilers, farmers and unorganised workers. Out of this package only 3 lakhs 20 thousand 900 crores are to be spent by the centre. The remaining 16 lakh 60 thousand crores are in the nature of loans and providing liquidity. The UP Cabinet has decided to suspend 38 labour laws leaving only 4. The MP Government has suspended nearly all labour laws for new establishments. The Gujarat and Karnataka Governments have also stated their aim to follow suit. Of course, the UP Government was forced to take back the decision to increase the working hours to 12 hours before the court. The effect of all these changes is that the “hire and fire” system is being introduced and workers are being pushed into slavery. The attack is on the workers wages, the health, their social security and even their dignity. In this manner, the Indian working class is being pushed into colonial British times. Against all these attacks on the working class, considering all these facts, the trade unions all over the country have decided to observe 22nd May 2020 as a day of protest.
The CITU, AITUC, INTUC, HMS, BKS, Shramik Ekta Mahasangh, TUCI, AIUTUC, SEWA, LPF, AICCTU and UTUC are all taking part in this protest. If the anti-worker changes in the labour laws are not taken back we will be forced to further intensify the movement. We request you to accept the demands below to the extent they are applicable to you.
- Full wages to all workers for the whole period of the lockout
- Scrap all the anti-worker changes in labour laws including extension of working day to 12 hours
- Help the migrant workers not only to reach back to their villages but also for rehabilitation and for getting reemployment
- Give relief of Rs. 10000 to each unorganised sector worker or self employed worker who has got no wages for each month of the lockdown
- Condemn the “package” of the Central Government which only gives aid to the big corporates and steals from the workers and other toilers.
- We demand that 5% of the GDP be spent on public health. n