As a part of the ongoing mobilization and preparation for the workers’ strike in Delhi on July 20, a protest action was organized on June 27. Hundreds of workers gathered at Shahidi Park to march to the seat of the Delhi government. Banners of the different workers’ unions and organisations as well as banners and placards highlighting the workers’ demands could be seen all over the park, from every tree, fence, pillar and pole.
The authorities deployed massive police force to prevent workers from marching to the Delhi Secretariat. The march ended in a militant rally which was addressed by the leaders of all the participating organisations.
Leaders who addressed the workers included Santosh Kumar of Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Virender Gaud of CITU, Santosh Rai of AICCTU, Dhirendra Sharma of AITUC, Rishi Pal of INTUC, Lata of SEWA, Harish Tyagi of AIUTUC, Narayan Singh of HMS, Shatrujit Singh of UTUC, Jawahar of LPF and Azad on behalf of the construction workers.
Speakers denounced the central and state governments for the increasing attacks on workers’ rights. In the name of “ease of doing business” and “ending inspector raj”, workers were being forced to work in the most horrible conditions, without even the minimum safety measures. Hundreds of workers have died in the fires that have broken out in factories in Delhi. All kind of essential and regular work is being contractualised by the government.
The workers organisations demanded a minimum wage of Rs. 20000 per month, and an end to the anti-worker legislations such as “fixed term contract”. Speakers denounced the privatization of essential services including electricity, water, transport and municipal services. They expressed their anger at the rising prices of food and other essential commodities and the systematic destruction of the public distribution system. They highlighted the denial of pension and PF benefits for workers. They condemned the attacks by the managements on workers for trying to form unions of their choice.
They demanded that Anganwadi workers, ASHA workers and Mid-day Meal workers be declared government employees and given their rights and benefits. They demanded equal pay for equal work for women workers, full maternity benefits and crèche facilities at the workplace. They raised the issue of rights of construction workers, metro rail workers, hotel workers and domestic workers. They demanded that hawkers and vendors be protected from harassment by the police and civic authorities.
The systematic attempts by the state and the monopoly controlled media to divide the workers on the basis of caste and community, the deliberate organization of communal violence and sectarian strife to break their unity were also condemned by the speakers.
The speaker of Mazdoor Ekta Committee pointed out that no matter which party is in power, what is being systematically implemented is the agenda of the handful of the big monopoly capitalists who rule our country. This is the agenda of privatization, liberalization and globalization, of intensifying the attacks on the workers and their rights, in order to maximize the profits of the monopoly capitalist rulers. For the masses of working people there is no democracy, as can be clearly seen in the manner in which the demonstrating workers were prevented from marching to the Delhi Secretariat to present their demands. All laws and policies are made to further the interests of the big monopoly capitalists. They are the ones who make all the decisions. The party in power is merely managing the system in the interests of the big monopoly capitalists. Parties in power and governments may be changed by elections but the ruling class does not change. Each successive government attacks the rights of the workers with greater ferocity than the one before. The only real alternative before us is to organize to put an end to the rule of the bourgeoisie headed by the monopoly capitalists and usher in the rule of the workers and peasants. Only the rule of the workers and peasants can guarantee us our rights and well-being, he concluded.
A five-member delegation went to the Delhi Secretariat and submitted a memorandum of demands of the workers.
Youth artists of the Sangwari Natya Manch sang songs highlighting the deplorable conditions of the workers and their determination to carry on the fight for their demands.
The protest action concluded with a rousing call to all workers of Delhi, to make the strike of July 20 a resounding success.