April 12, 2015

Workers Stage Protest Action in Mumbai

PR Krishnan

PEOPLE in east west suburb of Mumbai witnessed one of the largest militant protest actions of the working class on March 27 against anti-people policies of the RSS guided and BJP led Devendra Phadnavis government in Maharashtra. Organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, more than 2000 industrial workers came from different parts of Maharashtra to Mumbai on that day. They assembled at Dharavi near Sion railway Station in the morning and marched in procession to the office of the Commissioner of labour at Bandra-Kurla Complex and staged a four hour long demonstration raising demands of the working class. This place is now famous because it is here that many of the multinational corporation offices including business headquarters, five star hospitals and educational institutions are situated. It is in the midst of these complexes that the new office of the Commissioner of labour is situated. The rally and the demonstration here, in front of the office of the Commissioner, with banners and red flags drew attention of the educated white collar employees in and around the locality. The protesting demonstrators comprised industrial workers from Nasik, Aurangabad, Solapur, Murbad, Thane, Nagpur, Pune, Kolhapur, Chandrapur, Dhule, Sahapur and Mumbai. Their demands were:

·         withdrawal of proposed amendments in the labour laws,

·         minimum statutory wage of Rs 15,000 per month,

·          regularisation  of contract workers in permanent services,

·         equal wage for similar jobs,

·         payment of withheld legal dues to workers of closed industrial units,

·         provision for Rs 5000 as unemployment  allowance,

·         removal of sealing from Bonus Act,

·          preference in jobs for 80 per cent local people,

·         speedy solutions to all pending cases of workers in labour department,

·         inclusion of TU representatives in tripartite bodies,

·         constitution of a welfare board for sugar cutting workers, domestic workers and construction workers,

·         revision of minimum wages for power loom and beedi workers and

·         enforcement of all labour laws.

A delegation led by state CITU general secretary Dr D L Karad met the labour commissioner and had a two-hour long discussion. The labour commissioner assured the delegation that no changes in labour laws will be effected in Maharashtra without discussions with labour representatives. The labour commissioner also assured that all other demands mentioned in the CITU memorandum will receive due consideration from the state government. After discussions with the labour commissioner, Dr D L Karad explained the outcome of discussions to the workers. Dr Karad in his address to the protesting demonstrators explained in detail the demands submitted to the government and assurances given by the commissioner. He warned the government that if the assurances were not implemented, the CITU in Maharashtra will launch strong agitation against the government. Others who addressed the gathering were: Dr SK Rege, Udhhav Bhavalkar, Dr Vivek Monteiro, Amrut Meshram, LK Rao, Shubhas Jadhav, Devidas Adole, Laxman Sakrudkar, Ramdas Pagare, DN Suryavanshi, PM Vartak, Armaity  Irani, Rajendra Jadhav, and Joy Xavier.

                Following the above massive action, the state committee of the CITU had a two days meeting in Mumbai on April 4-5. The first day meeting was of the state office bearers and the second day meeting was of the state council. On both the days, CITU general secretary Tapan Sen was present and he guided the deliberations. The state committee has decided to launch a series of actions against the government’s anti-working class and anti-farmer policies.