Report by a correspondent of Mazdoor Ekta Lehar
On the occasion of May Day 2023, Mazdoor Ekta Committee (MEC) issued a statement (See May Day statement of MEC). Thousands of copies of the statement were distributed among the factories and residential colonies of workers in Delhi as well as in the joint May Day rally.
On May 1, 2023, on the occasion of International Working Class Day, a joint rally was organised at the Town Hall in Chandni Chowk. The rally was organised by the Joint Platform of Trade Unions of Delhi. Braving the heavy rain, hundreds of workers gathered to celebrate May Day. Women workers participated in large numbers.
“Implement minimum wage of Rs 26,000!”, “End contract labour!”, “Ensure job security!”, “Implement the old pension scheme!”, “Ensure social security for unorganised workers!”, “Withdraw the anti-worker labour codes!”, “Equal pay for equal work!”, “Stop privatisation of railways, electricity, education and health care!”, “No to capitalist exploitation!”, “Ensure proper price for peasants’ produce!”, “Worker-peasant unity zindabad!”, “Workers of all countries, unite!”, “Inquilab Zindabad!” – slogans such as these resounded throughout the area. Participants in the rally carried banners and placards bearing the demands of the workers.
The enthusiastic slogans attracted the crowds of the bazaar in Chandni Chowk, with many passers-by joining the rally.
The rally began with a tribute to all those who have sacrificed their lives in the struggle of workers for their rights.
Speakers at the rally strongly criticised the central and state governments for their anti-working class, anti-people and anti-national policies. These policies are in favour of the interests of the capitalist class, they pointed out. The four labour codes have been passed in order to make it easier for the Indian and foreign corporate houses to intensify the exploitation and loot of the workers. We workers are going to lose even those rights that we have won through long years of struggle, they explained.
Permanent jobs are a thing of the past. Daily working hours in factories are being increased from 8 to 12. 95% of workers in Delhi are denied minimum wages. Workers are being thrown out of jobs and factories are being closed down, in order to safeguard the profits of the capitalist owners. Both the central government and the state governments are implementing these policies.
The ruling class and its agents are trying to smash the unity of the workers by dividing us on caste and communal lines. Speakers drew attention to the need to be vigilant against these manoeuvres. They called for strengthening the unity of the workers and peasants in our common struggle.
The speaker of Mazdoor Ekta Committee (MEC), Santosh Kumar saluted all workers who are resolutely carrying on the struggle for our rights, braving the attacks of the rulers.
He said that today, in US, Europe and other parts of the world, workers are coming out on to the streets against capitalist exploitation. Workers are fighting against the attacks on their rights, against the cutbacks on social security, for steady jobs and wages that will ensure a dignified existence. In our country too, workers are coming out in struggle in ever larger numbers.
The central and state governments are pushing the program of privatisation. Public sector industries and services are being sold off to the monopoly capitalists for a pittance.
All governments work to enrich the ruling capitalist class. The exploitation of workers and peasants is increasing. The parliament, the judiciary, the Constitution and the legal system, all defend the interests of the capitalist class. The big monopoly capitalist houses spend crores of rupees to ensure the electoral victory of whichever one of their trusted political parties that can best implement the agenda of the capitalists while most effectively fooling the people. Governments come and go, but there is no concrete change in the condition of the workers and peasants.
We, workers and peasants, have to put an end to the illusion that our lives can improve as long as the rule of the capitalist class and the existing system of exploitation and oppression continue. We cannot expect that there will be any real change in our conditions of life, by removing one party serving the capitalist class from the government and replacing it with another.
In conclusion, he said that we, workers and peasants, produce all the wealth of the country. We have to become its masters. Workers and peasants have to establish their own rule.
Others who addressed the meeting included Amarjeet Kaur of AITUC, RK Sharma of AIUTUC, Sucheta De of AICCTU, Anurag Saxena of CITU, Narayan Singh of HMS, Subhadra of SEWA, Manavendra Singh of UTUC, SK Gupta of TUCC and Narendra Singh of ICTU.
Activists of Jan Natya Manch sang revolutionary songs.
The rally concluded with militant slogans and a resolution to take the struggle forward.
Youth program on the occasion of May Day
MEC organised a youth-competition program in South Delhi’s Okhla Industrial Area on April 30. Activists of MEC had been going door-to-door in the workers’ residential areas, to mobilise youth to participate in the program. More than a hundred youth enthusiastically participated in the program.
In this competition, the youth described issues related to the daily lives of workers, through the medium of art and essay writing. For example, essays were invited on topics such as – the significance of May Day; a day in the life of my mother; having to fill water from the tanker cuts into our studies, etc. Paintings made by the youth included topics such as – people filling water at the water tanker; a worker at work; the fruit-seller uncle; my family, etc. The seriousness and sensitivity of the youth, their cultural and artistic qualities, that emerged from their essays and paintings, were indeed inspiring.
A sack race had been organised for the younger children.
The day-long program concluded with a public meeting in the evening. Prizes were distributed to the winners and runners-up in the various competitions. The youth and their families attended the meeting in large numbers. Activists of MEC as well as representatives of other organisations such as Concor Employees Union, South Delhi e-rickshaw drivers’ union, Lok Raj Sangathan, etc. gave away the prizes and inspired the youth with their encouraging words.