Across the entire country - in cities, towns and industrial areas, workers united on May 1st, International Workers' day, to pledge to intensify their struggle in defence of their rights and to keep the red flag aloft in memory of the Chicago martyrs. Huge rallies and meetings were organized on this occasion, throughout the country. Demonstrations were organized against the anti-people, anti-worker and anti-national policies of the government.
In Delhi, as has been the tradition, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, AITUC, CITU, HMS, AIUTUC, TUCC, UTUC, AIBA, AIRF, BEFI, GIEAIA, NZIEA took out a joint rally from Ramlila Maidan to Chandni Chowk. Hundreds of workers from various sectors of the economy, like railways, banks, insurance and service sectors participated in this rally. Awash with red flags, the rally wound its way from Ramlila Maidan through the busy areas of Kamala Market, Ajmeri Gate, Lal Kuan, Fatehpuri Masjid to Chandni Chowk. People came out of their homes to hear the slogans and see the sight of the rally. The rally reverberated with slogans of “Long live May Day”, “Hindustan is asking for the Red Flag on the Red Fort”, “We are the masters of Hindostan – her workers, peasants, women and youth”, “Contract labour must not be used for permanent and full-year’s work”, “Implement universal public distribution system”, “No FDI in banks, insurance and retail sectors”, “Down with liberalisation, privatization and globalisation”, “Down with capitalism”!
The rally turned into a meeting on reaching the Town Hall, and was presided over by. J.P.Sharma (A.I.B.A), N.S. Siddu (A.I.R.F), B.K.Sharma (B.E.F.I) and N.Hyder (G.I.E.A.I.A). Addressing the meeting, the trade union leaders roundly condemned the anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-national programme of the bourgeoisie implemented through the Delhi and Central governments. They pointed out the biggest monopoly corporations were competing with the biggest industrial houses on a world scale through this programme of globalisation through liberalisation and privatization. The government is attacking our wages, our living conditions, the rights of working class and trade unions in order to implement this programme of the bourgeoisie; it is selling off public enterprises to private capitalists, and looting the water, land, forest and mineral resources of our people.
The speakers pointed out that the workers of Delhi had vigorously participated in many large joint actions. We contributed to the success of the 2-day country-wide general strike in February. The central government has turned a blind eye to our demands. We are preparing for the struggle ahead.
They said that the government was blatantly violating labour laws. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has openly declared that observing labour laws means to go against the interests of capitalist growth. He wants that workers should be hired and fired at the will of the capitalist, that workers should be made to work to the maximum for the least wages and that workers be stopped from organising in trade unions. He intends that contractual work should become the norm across all sectors of the economy.
Addressing the meeting, the MEC speakers emphasized that the capitalist class is the ruling class, and owns all the means of production. The ruling class is intensifying the exploitation of the working class in its pursuits to aggrandize its profits and to become a player of global scale. The capitalist class and its parties have used various ways to divide the working class in order to break its unity and to make it the tail of their parties. By virtue of its class identity, the working class must unite around its independent programme and against the anti-national, anti-people and anti-worker programme of the bourgeoisie. The working class must seize political power, must become the owner of the means of production and must give a new orientation to the economy which will ensure the prosperity of all. The working class must mobilise the peasantry and all the oppressed sections in society around this programme.
Com. Amarjit Kaur (AITUC), Com. Birju Nayak (MEC), Com. Harbhajan Singh Siddu (HMS), Com. Tapan Sen (CITU), Com. R.K.Sharma (AIUTUC), Com. Asit Ganguly (UTUC), P.K.Trivedi (TUCC) were among the speakers at the meeting.
The following demands were made by the Trade Unions and TU Federations, on the occasion of May Day:
- Put an end to unemployment
- No to contract labour for permanent and full-time work. Contract workers must be paid wages and benefits on the same scale as permanent workers
- Make contract workers permanent. Fill all vacant posts
- Ensure safety of workers at the workplace
- Social Insurance Fund must be constituted for unorganized sector workers
- Revise the Minimum Wages Act and extend its scope to include all workers. Fix minimum wages on the basis of the standards laid down by the 15th Indian Workers Convention and the Supreme Court and link it to the Consumer Price Index
- Make it mandatory to register a Trade Union within 45 days of application being presented for the same
- Bring all workers, without any exception, within the scope of labour laws
- Enforce the implementation of all labour laws
- Pay all retired workers pension that will enable them to lead a dignified life
- Remove the ceiling for eligibility to bonus and provident fund
- Water, electricity and safe transport is our inviolable right. It is the duty of the government to ensure this right to every resident of Delhi.
- All forms of privatization – be it direct sale, disinvestment, public-private partnership, outsourcing or contracting – be stopped immediately. Reverse privatization already executed and return the assets to the state.