Vol. XLI No. 52 December 24, 2017

Teachers, Health & Scheme Workers on Warpath in Bihar

Arun Kumar Mishra

THE neo-liberal economic regime has turned the country’s employment scenario upside down. There are no longer regular government and non-government jobs. You have only contract workers, daily wage earners, casual workers, scheme workers, etc.

In the 12-year rule of Nitish Kumar, Bihar’s employment scenario has undergone a complete change, and now even doctors, nurses, professors are working on contract basis. A large number of college teachers are working in affiliated colleges of various universities for Rs 10,000 or less. There is a large number of vacancies in government offices, schools and colleges, but the government has no intension to fill them up. Retired employees are being re-employed with reduced salary to ease workload in government offices.

The prevailing scenario has created a fertile ground for ever-growing struggles of different groups of working people and the government only wants to suppress these movements. Over 80,000 health workers have joined an indefinite strike demanding equal pay for equal work. The Nitish Kumar government has bared its fangs by threatening the striking workers either to join their duties or face dismissal. The entire health fraternity of Bihar has expressed solidarity with the striking health workers.

Earlier, Urdu teachers who have been fighting for their job were lathi-charged. The government was also brutal with scheme workers, who have been doggedly fighting to be recognised as workers so that they can be eligible for minimum wage and other statutory benefits. Dharnas and demonstrations by various sections of people have become the norm of the day, but the government has nothing to offer to these struggling workers.

Recent movements of contract workers of Nalanda University in Rajgir and a Rail Neer plant in Danapur have brought to the light the cruel and inhuman exploitation of young male and female workers who are subjected to daily humiliations and even sexual assault. They are employed on a meagre salary of Rs 4,000-6000 per month.

The transport industry is also in turmoil and truckers and other sections of transporters are also agitating for various demands. The central and state governments have increased various fees and penalties abnormally which will drive the small transporters out pf business and pave the way for foreign and national giant operators. Recently the truckers went on a strike for seven days which created a scarcity of essential commodities in the market.

There is a lull before the storm. Different sections of transport sectors are coming together to fight the anti-people Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill of 2016 and the recent hike in fees and penalties by the state government. The CITU has taken the lead in bringing all the sections of working people on one platform.

The CITU was directly involved in guiding the movements in Rajgir and Danapur. The Bihar State Road Transport Workers Federation is playing a leading role in bringing all the organisations in the transport sector together and fight jointly. The Non-Gazetted Employees’ Federation has come out openly in support of the striking health workers and they have decided to show solidarity with them by organising demonstrations and dharnas at every district headquarters.