THOUSANDS of CITU cadre laid siege to district collectorates across Andhra Pradesh on July 3, demanding minimum wages and social security and opposing dilution of social welfare measures. The state government tried to suppress the agitation through all means. On the call of the CITU state committee, thousands of people took part in the ‘Sramikha Sankharavam’ movement.
Hundreds of CITU cadre, agricultural workers were taken into preventive custody and several hundred more were arrested across the state. The police action did not deter the workers.
In Vijayawada, hundreds of workers staged dharna in front of the collectorate camp office. The workers raised slogans, demanding payment of minimum wages, social security and provision of basic amenities, and opposing measures to change building workers welfare scheme, Chandranna Bheema Yojana, etc. There was a commotion between agitating workers and police. Police arrested CITU state secretary M A Gaffoor, and Ch. Babu Rao, D V Krishna, Ch. Supraja and V V Venkateswarlu.
Addressing the dharna, Gafoor cautioned the Chandrababu government that it was high time for the government to immediately address the issues of workers, failing which the agitation would be intensified across the state. He deplored the anti-worker attitude of the Chandrababu government over the non-issuance of instructions in line with a Supreme Court judgement that equal remuneration should be given for equal work. Gafoor criticized the TDP government for not increasing wages of anganwadis and ASHA workers and for its failure to bring the lakhs of unorganised section of workers under the net of social security. The government should desist from trying to divert funds from Building Workers Welfare Fund to Chandranna Bhima Yojana, he rebuked.
Venkateswarlu blasted the government for its false promises to workers and creating illusions in their minds. The public distribution system has become a sham as workers are not getting any item other than rice, he lamented.
In Ananthapur, thousands laid siege to the collectorate under the leadership of Obulu. The joint collector was forced to negotiate with the agitating workers and assured them to settle the pending wages of ASHA, anganwadi and midday meal workers.
Police indiscriminately lathicharged the agitators in fornt of Vijayanagaram collectorate, injuring a few workers. Tension prevailed for a few hours as police tried in vain to shift the agitating workers to police station.
CITU leader A V Nageswara Rao addressed a massive dharna outside the Kakinada collectorate wherein thousands of scheme workers, outsourcing and contract workers attended.
Rampachodavaram ITDA was laid siege to by hundreds of workers and tribals demanding immediate resolution of pending issues. Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch national chairman M Babu Rao addressed the agitating workers.
The collectorates of Kadapa, Guntur, Vizag, Chittoor, Srikakulam, Eluru and Prakasam reverberated with thunderous slogans of workers, led by the CITU. The administration of these districts tried to suppress the agitation, but the workers rebuffed all their efforts. In Srikhakulam, CPI(M) leader M Krishna Murthy and CITU leaders Chowdary Tejeswara Rao and Subbaravamma, along with 118 others, were arrested.
The working class in Andhra Pradesh has been patiently waiting for more than three years for resolution of their issues. Of late, massive discontentment is brewing among the workers as they are tired of gimmicks being played by the Chandrababu government. Instead of trying to assuage their discontentment, the government is adopting highhanded, draconian measures which led to simmering dissatisfaction among the workers.
The working class is slowly coming out of the illusions created by the Chandrababu government and they are increasingly realising that only through sustained struggles their demands will be fulfilled.
By giving a clarion call to conduct dharnas, the CITU stepped up its struggle against the state government on the issues of the working class. The incessant struggles have forced political parties such as the Congress and the YSRCP to lend their support to the July 3 dharna.