Protest over the death of workers in factory fire

Report by Mazdoor Ekta Committee correspondent

On 22nd February 2024, a large number of workers took out a massive procession and protest in Delhi, from Civil Lines Metro Station to the Labor Commissioner’s office, under the leadership of Joint Trade Union Forum Delhi. The protest was organized to express anger over the death of workers in a factory fire in Alipur, Delhi and to re-highlight workers’ demands regarding safety at the workplace.

Fire-cought-in-AlipurThe organizations that participated in the demonstration were CITU, AITUC, HMS, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, AICCTU, UTUC, ICTU, INTUC, SEWA, LPF, IFTU, Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra and Lokpaksh.

The fire on 15th February in a factory named Om Sons Paint and Chemicals in Alipur, North West Delhi resulted in the death of 10 workers and the owner’s father. Many nearby shops were also reduced to ashes in this fire. Neighbouring residential buildings suffered extensive damage. The explosions that occurred in the paint cans were terrible. It is now found that the factory was being run illegally in a residential area and all it’s rescue and evacuation routes were closed.

The workers walking in the procession were holding placards in their hands, which read – ‘The murderers of the workers are Delhi Government and MCD, Answer!’, ‘The nexus of capitalist owners and government agencies is responsible for the Alipur fire!’, ‘Who is responsible for industrial accidents – Delhi government, Answer!’, ‘Are the lives of workers cheap and safety equipment expensive? ‘, ‘Give justice to the workers killed in the Alipur fire!’ etc. The protesters expressed their anger through militant slogans.

The procession turned into a meeting after reaching the Labor Commissioner’s office.

Fire-cought-in-AlipurAddressing the protesters, representatives of the organizations cited several examples of workers’ deaths and injuries in factory accidents happening one after another in Delhi.

They said that not only in the national capital Delhi, but across the country, workers are forced to work in very unsafe and miserable conditions, at very low wages and without any job security. This shows the culpability of the man-eating capitalist system existing in the country and the state that maintains this system. The ruling capitalist class cannot provide safe working conditions for workers, because doing so would prevent it from achieving its goal of making maximum profits from the exploitation of workers. All the successive governments, whether state governments or central governments, have been working to ensure maximum profits for the capitalists.

The protesters demanded that all the officers responsible for this incident should be immediately dismissed, that prohibited industries being run in residential areas should be banned and safety provisions should be strictly enforced in factories. Everyone stressed that the Municipal Corporation and the Government should fulfil their responsibilities of ensuring safety at the workplace. A demand was made that all the proposed labour codes which weaken the existing provisions for safety of workers at workplace, weaken the inspection system, and keep majority of factories and industries out of its purview, should be cancelled.

A delegation on behalf of the Joint Trade Union Forum presented a charter of all these demands to the Labor Commissioner.

 

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