Thousands of workers participated in a militant protest rally near the government guest house in Chepauk, Chennai on April 13, 2017. The protest rally was organized to express the opposition of the working class to the decision of the Sessions Court of Gurgaon to award life sentence to 13 Maruti Suzuki workers.
The workers demanded the immediate release of the jailed workers of Maruti Suzuki, Pricol and other factories. The workers also expressed their concern for the plight of the peasants of Tamilnadu who are facing one of the worst droughts in over a century and demanded that the Central and State governments fulfill the just demands of the peasants.
The call for the protest rally was given by the AITUC, CITU, AICCTU, LPF, WPTUC, HMS and AIUTUC amongst others. Workers Unity Movement, Tamilnadu, participated actively in the rally. Bank workers, industrial workers, transport workers, automobile sector workers, as well as workers from various public services participated militantly with their banners and slogans. There were workers from Ashok Leyland, Engine Valves, State transport, Rane, UCAL, Kalpakkam Atomic Plant, Railways, Auto workers, Checkpoint and the Airport amongst others.
Speakers at the rally pointed out how the Indian state and the capitalists are united in attacking the workers and denying them justice. Although there was no evidence to prove that the workers killed the manager or set fire to the factory, the court has, at the command of big capitalists, awarded life imprisonment to 13 workers, 5 years jail sentence to 4 workers, and 3 years jail for 14 workers. Speakers demanded that all the jailed workers should be immediately released and all the workers sacked by the Maruti management should be taken back.
Speakers pointed out that Pricol in Coimbatore had a similar story. Eight workers were convicted by the Sessions court and awarded double life sentence for a crime with which they were in no way connected. Later the High court discharged 6 of them, finding them innocent. Now the case of the remaining two leaders is in the Supreme Court.
Speakers pointed to the urgent need to strengthen the unity of the working class to fight back the capitalist onslaught on the rights of workers. n
Banner of Workers Unity Movement put up at the demonstration site reads as:
Indian state / Government!
• Red carpet for blood sucking capitalists?
• Life jail sentence for workers demanding Rights?
• Immediately release Maruti and Pricol workers!
• Let us put an end to exploitation and oppression!
• Let us unite to defeat all attacks!