2023 – Struggles of Workers, Peasants and Toilers in India

In 2023, workers and peasants of our country came out on the streets in protests and strikes against the anti-social and anti-worker offensive of the bourgeoisie. Workers across sectors rallied together for their right to minimum wages, against retrenchment at the will of the capitalists and against labour codes that extended the working day and restricted the rights of the workers to form unions and to strike for their rights. Peasants united to oppose the attacks on their livelihood through failure of the state to guarantee procurement at MSP, proposed amendment to the Electricity Act and to demand compensation for damages to their crops.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersAcross the country, workers organized programs and rallies to celebrate May Day.

When the Tamil Nadu government passed a law allowing 12-hour working day on 21st April 2023, workers’ unions across the state organized militant protests with mass mobilization. The state government was forced to put its decision on hold on 24th April.

On 9th August, trade unions and workers’ organizations in Tamil Nadu held protest dharnas in Chennai and other towns for their long-pending demands, which included scrapping of the labor codes, regularization of temporary/casual/contract workers, minimum wages of Rs. 28,000, an end to privatization, and for pension of Rs. 10,000 to all workers.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersPower sector workers have been repeatedly challenging the capitalist attack of power sector privatization. In December 2022-January 2023, power sector workers in Maharashtra campaigned widely to gain consumer support. On 4th January, they organized a huge strike against privatization of electricity despite the threat of Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act. Organisations of power sector workers from all over the country demonstrated their support to their brothers and sisters in Maharashtra, and unions in adjoining states refused to enter Maharashtra as strike breakers. The unity of the workers and support of the people forced the Maharashtra government to temporarily accept some of their demands.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersMore than one lakh electricity workers in Uttar Pradesh started a 72-hour strike on the night of 16th March 2023, under the banner of UP Rajya Vidyut Karmachari Sanyukta Sangharsh Samiti. The striking workers demanded that the government fulfil its previously accepted demands of stopping the privatisation of electricity transmission and distribution, restoring old pension scheme, and regularising all contract workers.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersIn July and August, hundreds of residents of Bhiwandi, Maharashtra, took to the streets to demand freedom from Torrent, a private electricity distribution company. Women and youth participated in large numbers in these militant actions. Residents opposed the steep increase in power bills and the company’s filing of false cases of power theft against residents. Workers of the public electricity sectors also extended their support in the demonstrations.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersLoco pilots organized a hunger fast on 10th October in Delhi on the call of the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA). Their long-pending demands included adequate rest between shifts, filling of vacancies, basic facilities of clean drinking water and clean toilets, separate toilets for women running staff, and restoration of old pension scheme.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersDuring the course of the year, workers at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, workers of Heavy Engineering Corporation Limited (HEC)  and leather workers in Tamil Nadu protested privatization of public sector enterprises, retrenchment and pending dues of salaries.

Massive protests were held in the country’s capital and in several states by workers across several sectors demanding the re-implementation of the Old Pension Scheme. In August and October, rallies were organized in Delhi by the Joint Forum for Restoration of Old Pension Scheme and National Movement for Old Pension Scheme, where lakhs of employees from railways, defence, post, education, banks, insurance, etc. raised their voice for old pension. On 23rd January, around 1 lakh employees organized a massive rally in Jaipur on the issue of pension. This was followed by an indefinite strike beginning on 14th March all across Maharashtra with lakhs of state government, semi-government, teaching and non-teaching employees participating in it. Teachers, health workers and different sections of workers held demonstrations across the state.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersAround 5,75,000 government employees in Madhya Pradesh took mass leave on 25th August for their long-pending demands of old pension scheme, payment of dearness allowance arrears, promotions, and an end to outsourcing.

Kisans across the country organized several agitations this year for their just demands, despite police brutality.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersThousands of kisans and their supporters walked 200 km from Nashik to Mumbai in March 2023 under the banner of All India Kisan Sabha for demands such as remunerative prices, complete loan waiver, waiving of pending electricity bills and assured 12-hour daily power supply, compensation by the government and insurance companies for crops damaged due to unseasonal rains, etc.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersIn Hanumangarh, Rajasthan, farmers had been waging a continuous struggle against the theft of water. After several protests and dharnas, the administration was forced to accept the demands of the kisans. Kisans in Ferozepur protested for over 5 months against Malbros International Limited, an alcohol manufacturing plant that had damaged their groundwater and claimed several lives. Further, starting from August, kisans organized several demonstrations to demand compensation for crops damaged due to floods and payment of insurance claims for crop failure in Rajasthan’s Nohar, Haryana’s Sirsa, and in Punjab.

Thousands of sugarcane farmers in western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab launched agitations in October–November to demand payment of pending dues and hike in state-advised prices of sugarcane. More than 3000 farmers from 15 villages of Haryana were forced to struggle for 200 days and eventually blocked the Gurugram-Jaipur Expressway in November to demand just compensation for over 1800 acres of their land which had been acquired by the state.

This year, workers and peasants organized several joint conventions and protests demanding halt to inflation, end to privatisation, minimum wage of Rs. 26,000 per month for all workers, legal guarantee of MSP, withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill, among other demands. They also condemned state-organized communal violence and incarceration of political activists. Students, youth, and women participated in large numbers in these joint protests against the anti-worker, anti-peasant program of the ruling bourgeoisie.

On 20th March, over 10,000 kisans participated in the Vishal Kisan Mahapanchayat organized by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha in Delhi. More than 50 kisan leaders and representatives of labour unions addressed the meeting and announced a nationwide struggle to end exploitation by corporate houses. On 5th April, thousands gathered in Delhi for the Mazdoor-Kisan Sangharsh Rally.

Workers and peasants across the country enthusiastically participated in a three-day Mahapadav ((large protests) on 26th–28th  November to mark the anniversary of the first day of the All India General Strike by workers and the historic march to Parliament by farmers in 2021. In different state capitals of the country, day-long meetings and demonstrations were organized. On 3rd October 2023, workers’ and farmers’ unions jointly organized meetings across the country to call for intensifying their united struggle and prepare for the mahapadav.

On 24th August, an all-India United Convention was organized by central trade unions, federations, associations and Samyukt Kisan Morcha at Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi. A charter of demands of workers and farmers was adopted. On 9th August, workers organized programs of mahapadav at more than 700 places across the country at the call of the United Forum of Trade Unions.

Lakhs of workers in the gig sector, workers on contractual labour system, and workers who are denied recognition as workers have come out on the streets repeatedly in defence of their rights as workers.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersAround 20,000 ASHA workers in Haryana organized a militant strike August–October, demanding minimum wage of Rs. 26,000 and status as government employees. The government was eventually forced to announce an increased monthly stipend of Rs. 6,100 and retirement benefit.

Tens of thousands of nurses across Madhya Pradesh started an indefinite strike on 10th July 2023 for demands related to promotion, recruitment, and pension. Nurses in Rajasthan waged a struggle for several months and took out a torch procession on 14th August for their demands related to nursing education and training, filling of vacancies of nursing teachers, pay and allowances, regularization of contract nurses and ban of recruitment through placement agencies.

Pharmacists in government hospitals and dispensaries in Rajasthan also launched a series of strikes from 1st September for their demands of timely promotions and salary disbursal, fair wages, etc. Hundreds of health workers of Tamil Nadu organized a rally in Chennai on 18th August to protest against their worsening working conditions in the backdrop of privatisation in the health sector.

Delivery workers of Blinkit (Zomato) went on strike in April to oppose a new unfair payment structure rolled out by the company. On 24th November, Amazon workers across the world organized protests and strikes against their terrible working conditions. In India, Amazon workers’ protests were reported in Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Varanasi, Kolkata, Aurangabad, Rishikesh, Agra, Bhopal, Kolhapur and other cities.

Casual and contract workers of BSNL, including a large number of women workers, in Kozhikode and Wayanad districts of Kerala started a relay hunger strike on 18th April to protest against delay in wage disbursal and denial of social benefits by outsourcing agencies. On 18th September, a “Samman Rally” was organized by the contractual workers on the JNU campus regarding delay in wages, lack of job security, and caste-based discrimination.

Transport workers in Haryana organized massive protests against privatisation of road transport services. Transport workers in West Bengal and women construction workers across the country participated in the ongoing working-class struggle and included common demands in their charter of demands. Hundreds of women safai karmacharis held a demonstration on 28th August 2023 in Delhi to demand that the government provides complete safety equipment, gas masks, etc. to the workers cleaning sewers and tanks. They demanded proper compensation for the families of the deceased laborers and the right to live a life with dignity.

Tens of thousands of toiling women and men have fought against the attacks on their right to livelihood and right to their homes.

In Uttarakhand, 50,000 men, women, and children came out on the streets to protest against their forceful eviction from their homes in Haldwani. The government ordered the eviction and is likely to provide land to the private capitalist who will take over the nearby Kathgodam railway station through the national monetisation policy. The indefinite dharna of the people started in the biting cold days of December 2022 and forced the Supreme Court stay the order of eviction on 5th January 2023.

In Maharashtra, residents of Ratnagiri poured onto the streets in April to stop the proposed Barsu Salgaon oil refinery project, which threatens the lives and livelihoods of the people and poses risk to the Konkan environment. The protestors, mainly women, were attacked brutally and detained. However, the people continued their struggle, gaining support from all justice-loving citizens of the country.

Women carried out militant protests against sexual harassment at work, sexual abuse and violence and for the right to dignity.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersWomen wrestlers in the country waged a fierce battle against the government demanding that the president of the  Wrestling Federation of India and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh be tried and convicted for sexual exploitation. The protesting wrestlers received support from women’s organisations, workers’ unions, kisan organisations and panchayat organisations. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha announced an All-India agitation program in support of the protesting wrestlers from 11th to 18th May. Despite heavy police presence and attacks, hundreds of people from all over the country came to the protest site to support the wrestlers.

2023 – Struggles of WorkersWorking class and peasants across the country organized huge demonstrations and dharnas to demand an end to the state-organized violence against the people of Manipur. On 25th July, workers, kisans, and women activists protested in large numbers in Delhi, with posters demanding “Remove AFSPA from Manipur and all north-eastern states,” “Down with state terrorism and violence in Manipur,” “Down with the capitalist ruling class’s divide and rule policy,” and “Punish the perpetrators of violence against women.”

On 6th  December, a militant protest action was held near Parliament condemning the state-organized communal violence launched on 6 December 1992. The protestors raised militant slogans—”Punish those guilty of the demolition of Babri Masjid!”, “Unite against state-organised communal violence!”, “Down with state terrorism!”, “Revoke UAPA!”, “Oppose the jailing and torture of those who raise their voices against injustice!”

Journalists, trade unions, women’s organizations, kisan organizations, youth and student organizations launched militant protests all over the country against the attack unleashed by the government on NewsClick and nearly fifty journalists and media professionals on 3rd October. Communist and left parties organized a protest action at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on 10th October on this issue, with hundreds of workers, women, and youth participating.

On 8th October, students and youth organized a conference in Delhi demanding the repeal of the New Education Policy and ensuring permanent and dignified employment for all. Young people from different states participated in the conference.

Israel’s genocidal war against the people of Palestine in October 2023 led to mass protests across the world and in India. On 7th November, many workers, women, youth, and students participated in a public meeting in Delhi to condemn this genocidal war. On 22nd November, various trade unions, students, youth organizations and public organizations of Delhi took out a procession holding placards and raising slogans—“Long live the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people for their homeland!”, “Down with the genocide of the Palestinian people by US-backed Israel!”, “U.N. should implement the resolution for Palestine!”, “Down with American imperialism!” Protests and public meetings were also organized in other cities.

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