June 07, 2015

AIAWU Calls for Nationwide Stir on Demand of Housing for All

THE All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) has chalked out a nationwide agitation programme on the demand of housing for all. As part of the two-month long campaign, conventions of houseless and landless will be held in 25,000 villages across the country in July. These will be preceded by a state-level convention of houseless and landless, where the charter of demands will be presented, and district level conventions in 300 districts. The village-level conventions will be followed by a state-level ‘Secretariat Chalo’ agitation in August and the campaign will culminate with a national level convention of houseless and landless to be held in Delhi in the first week of August.

The Central Working Committee of AIAWU, in its meeting from May 11 to May 12 at Yelagiri in Tamil Nadu, decided to observe the campaign on the social security issues with special focus on the question of houseless and landless. The meeting was presided over by its all India president S Thirunavukkarasu. Apart from the issue of houseless and landless, the CWC identified, based on the states’ reports, that irrespective of the existence of National Food Security Act, state governments led by BJP and Congress are indiscriminately cancelling the BPL/APL cards, reclassifying the APL/BPL categories denying benefit of ration supplies for crores of families. The CWC demands the restoration of all the cancelled PDS rations cards of all types and resume the ration supplies for the eligible beneficiaries. The CWC also decided to actively participate in the struggles against the proposed land acquisition ordinance being pushed by the BJP government at the cost of the agrarian community.

AIAWU general secretary A Vijayaraghavan, while presenting the report, said that within one year of being in power, the BJP government has proved beyond doubt that it is against the interests of agricultural workers, the poor and marginal farmers. He strongly criticised the BJP government at the Centre for its unhindered attack on the social security system of the country. He reminded that it is just because of the prevailing social security system, the people could withstand the onslaught of market forces on their day-to-day lives.

Vijayaraghavan criticised the central government for attempting to dilute the only legally guaranteed social security system, the MNREGA, immediately after coming to power. Despite the fact that majority of states are failing to provide the legally guaranteed number of day of employment, the MNREGA amounts to more than 25 percent of annual income for agricultural workers. He said that this 25 percent of additional income through MNREGA is playing a big role in protecting the agricultural workers form exploitation of money lenders. The constant attack on MNREGA leads to 25 percent less income for agricultural workers and pushing them into the clutches of money lenders. He deplored the central government move to phase out the historic, world acclaimed MNREGA Act which is playing a key role in emancipation of women by guaranteeing the equal wage for equal work for the first time in the country. He called upon the agricultural workers to oppose this moves by the BJP government and other state governments and launch a ‘Save MNREGA’ movement at various levels.

He cautioned the central government against the dilution of right to education and health which imposes the highest burden on the rural poor. He criticised various state governments’ attempts to close down thousands of schools denying the right to education for crores of students from families of agricultural workers. He reminded that this is happening despite existence of the Right to Education Act. He also demanded the government to ensure 25 percent free seats in private educational institutions be implemented strictly. Also he called upon the local units of the All India Agricultural Workers Union to mobilise people for protecting public health and public education systems which are laying foundations for the economic liberation of the rural poor and particularly agricultural workers.

During the two-month long campaign on social security and land security related issues, state committees will organise various activities highlighting the government’s attempts to dilute the social security provisions and the implications of newly proposed land acquisition act on agricultural workers. These agitations will focus on the implementation gaps at various levels and organise protest activities for rectifying these gaps for an effective and fruitful implementation of social security schemes and provisions.

The CWC demanded immediate reconstitution of Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC) which is part of MNREGA, in a separate resolution. The CEGC is the body that coordinates and monitors the proper implementation of MNREGA. The present CEGC tenure was over two years ago but the government is yet to reconstitute the CEGC. The Central Working Committee also called upon the AIAWU local units to form MNREGA groups and register them with department of rural development and project director MNREGA in each district.

The CWC demanded to provide employment in all the areas where the crop was destroyed by unseasonal rain and hailstorm, due to which agricultural workers lost lakhs of days farm employment during this season.

The CWC demanded that the rural development officials should not insist for seeding the bank accounts of MNREGA workers with Aadhaar card. Also the CWC demanded the Tamil Nadu state government to issue instructions to start work under MNREGA for this season with out any further delay in all the villages. (END)