On 5 September 2018, lakhs of workers and peasant from all across India marched to Delhi to express their anger against capitalists and their government. They staunchly opposed the anti-national, anti-worker, and anti-peasants policies of the government.
The current flood situation in many states and rains in Delhi could not deter their resolve of marching to Delhi. This was a great demonstration of the combined strength of the workers and peasants.
Right from the break of dawn the workers and peasants began to gather at Parliament Street near Jantar Mantar. A rally began from Ramlila Maidan and reached Parliament street by noon. Huge contingents of workers and peasants marched together militantly holding placards, banners and red flags. Within a short span of time, Parliament street was jam packed with protesting workers and peasants. Jantar Mantar road and Jai Singh road were also jam packed with contingents of workers and peasants. Central Delhi, Connaught Place, Railways station and various metro stations around the area were filled with red flags and banners. The entire area was reverberating with the slogan of Inqilaab Zindabad. The gathering was so huge that no camera was able to capture the entire scene in one frame. The barricades setup by the police fell to disuse as the gathering of workers and peasants moved in a disciplined manner. It is estimated that more than 2 lakh workers and peasants participated in the rally.
Peasants and agricultural workers from various states marched alongside the workers from banks, telecommunication, mines, transport, postal services, manufacturing, coal, iron, insurance, education, health and various other sectors of the economy under the leadership of their respective trade unions and federations.
The rally was addressed by the representatives of CITU, All India Kisan Sabha, and All India Khet Mazdoor union, who had organised this rally, along with representatives of working class organisations, unions and federations from various sectors of the economy. They boldly declared that the programme of privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation was anti-worker, anti-peasant, anti-people and anti-national. They resolved to intensify their collective struggle against this orientation of the economy.
Voices of workers and peasants from all over India
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar (MEL) spoke to numerous workers and peasants participating in the rally. The majority of workers and peasants met the correspondents of MEL and expressed their determination to end the rule of the capitalist class and establish the rule of workers and peasants. They said that that this was the only way to end exploitation and oppression. Only the rule of workers and peasants can ensure a bright future for crores of workers, peasants and all the oppressed. The present system is a rule of the capitalist class. Under this system whichever party comes to power, it implements the programme of this capitalist class. They work to intensify the exploitation of the workers and peasants and fill the coffers of the rich capitalists. Experience of the past 70 years since independence has shown that those who produce grains remain hungry. The workers who produce every commodity become poorer and poorer. Only the rule of workers and peasants can bring about a transformation. It is our duty to mobilise and organise the entire mass of workers, peasants, women and youth in the direction of establishing the rule of workers and peasants. We must organise to become the rulers of this country.
All India Kisan Sabha Treasurer Comrade Krishna Prakash said that this rally will determine the future direction of the workers' and peasants' movement. We demand that that price rise must be arrested, and all should be provided with suitable employment. Peasants must be given 50 percent more than the cost of production and recommendation of the Swaminathan Committee must be implemented. Agricultural labourers and poor peasants must be given loan waiver and the rights of agricultural labourers must be protected. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, we are going to make the demands of workers and peasants as the national issue. We want to establish a government of workers and peasants.
Ashok Kumar from Gazipur Uttar Pradesh, who is affiliated to All India Postal Workers Federation (Rural Postal Service) said that although the government insists that the workers of Rural Postal service are employed for only 4 hours per day, they are made to work for 8 hours and more. They get Rs.12000-14000 consolidated monthly salary. They are demanding that they should be provided with permanent employment and considered as workers.
The Secretary of All India Postal Workers Federation (Group C), Gazipur Division said that we have come here to raise our voice against the privatisation and liberalisation policies of the government. We are demanding that the New Pension Scheme (NPS) should be scrapped. Under this NPS although we are depositing our share, we do not know how much the government is contributing. We have no idea how much money we will get on retirement. Our future is dark. We are also opposing the changes in the labour laws. There is a shortage of staff and we are being burdened with extra work.
The Vice-president of Agricultural Labour Union, Uttar Pradesh said that we are demanding a central legislation to protect the rights of agricultural workers. We are demanding that the cuts in allocation for MNREGA should be taken back and people should be provided with 300 days of work at Rs.300 per day. All agricultural workers and peasants above the age of 60 years should be given a pension of Rs. 5000 per month. He said that he was from Devaria district in Uttar Pradesh and agricultural workers used to be engaged in all activities from ploughing to harvesting, but with the advent of capitalist agriculture they have been rendered redundant. Agricultural workers and peasants are being forced to migrate to towns and cities for livelihood. Demonetisation and GST have broken the back of small rural businesses, farmers and agricultural workers. We want that a government of workers and peasants be formed.
Secretary of All India Kisan Sabha Varanasi, Ramji Singh said that the peasants are being looted at every level. For example while the minimum support price for wheat is Rs.1650 per quintal, we are forced to sell this to the grain merchants at Rs.1450. There are very few public procurement centres. On the other hand, while the government approved price of 50 gram fertiliser is only Rs.1100 we are made to shell out Rs.1300 for the same. Similarly a 50 kilogram packet of urea should be
Rs. 320, but farmers have to purchase that at Rs.350-370. Irrigation has become costly as a result of increase in the price of diesel. In other words, the input costs of agricultural produce are rising continuously. The prices of agricultural inputs and produce are determined by the capitalist companies in their own interest. Farmers have nowhere to go, and conditions of peasants of Uttar Pradesh and the entire country is more or less the same.
Sandeep Sanjwaan of Sarv Karmachari Sangh Hayrana said that we are demanding equal play for equal work. For the same work, both the temporary and permanent workers should be given equal pay. Under the Mid-day Meal Scheme of the education programme while the person who cooks gets Rs.3500 per month, The guard is paid only 1000 rupees.
Nepal Dey from Damodar Valley Corporation in West Bengal said that all across the country, rights of workers are being violated. We are demanding that right to work should be guaranteed, and all workers should be guaranteed a minimum wage of Rs.18000 per month. We are in solidarity with demands that are being raised in this rally. We strongly condemn the divide and rule policy of the capitalist class. We have come here to oppose division of people on communal basis.
Malay Sarkar from Road Transport Federation in West Bengal said that the conditions of the transport workers in the state are pathetic. Neither are they given minimum wage nor are they provided with any social security. The government of West Bengal is handing over the land and building of the State Transport Corporation to the biggest capitalists. It is the same condition in the rest of India.
Gyaneshwar Chaudhari of Rajasthan Medical and Sales Representatives Union said that they are engaged in selling medicine and equipment to the doctors. We work on the field but are not covered by labour laws. We are demanding minimum wages but we are getting only Rs.7000-8000 per month. The minimum qualification required in this field is 12th class in science stream. Most medical representatives have acquired B.Sc, M.Sc, D.Pharm and B.Pharm degree. The government only protects the interest of the capitalists, and policies are made to ensure maximum profits for them, while the rights of workers are crushed.
Mohit Ranjan of LIC Agents Organisation of India, West Bengal proudly declared that we are workers. Workers all across the country should be guaranteed a minimum wage of Rs.18000 per month. All workers should be given wages such that they can live like human being.
Kunj Mohan Das of BSNL Assam said that this generation is facing the maximum onslaught by the capitalists. It has become extremely difficult to provide for a family. In BSNL, all the workers – casual, contract, as well as permanent workers perform similar tasks, but they do not get equal pay. Labours laws are being violated. We are demanding equal pay for equal work.
Sumit Bose, Secretary of Income Tax Employees Federation, West Bengal said that there are many issues. The NPS should be scrapped. In our department, 40 per cent of the posts are vacant, although the number of tax-payers is constantly increasing. The 7th Pay Commission has not been implemented till date. We are also demanding that contract workers should be made permanent.
Our interaction and discussion with the workers and peasants who had come for the rally has clearly shown that people are aware that it is the capitalist system that is responsible for the exploitation and destruction of those who are producers of all wealth in the society. It is also amply clear that if this situation has to be changed, it cannot be done by replacing one coalition of bourgeois parties with another coalition of bourgeois parties. The majority of workers and peasants whom we met have asserted that we must organise and unite in struggle to establish the rule of workers and peasants.