Vol. XLIII No. 20 May 19, 2019
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Defeat BJP! Continue the Fight for Alternative Policies!

Hemalata

FOR the first time after independence, the central trade unions and independent industrial federations in the country joined together to adopt a ‘Workers’ Charter’ and demanded that these demands be included in the election manifestoes of the political parties. The ‘Workers’ Charter’ was unanimously adopted in the joint national convention of workers held in New Delhi on March 5, 2019. Around a thousand workers from across the country representing the leadership of all the ten central trade unions and the independent federations in the country participated in the convention held at Constitution Club Annexe. 
 
The national convention of workers also called upon the working class and all sections of common people to defeat the anti-national, anti-worker and anti-people BJP in the ensuing parliament elections to the 17th Lok Sabha. Emphasising that the country had adequate resources to meet the demands raised in the ‘Workers’ Charter’ the convention asserted that the neoliberal agenda being aggressively pursued by the present BJP led government has aggravated concentration of wealth in a few hands at the expense of the workers and peasants who created the wealth of the country. It has widened disparities to vulgar heights. Besides, the convention decided to take the ‘Workers’ Charter’ to all the workers and common people in the country through extensive campaign and also vowed to continue the struggle against the neoliberal policies, whichever government came to power after the elections, if it indulged in pursuing the same policies.
 
The convention began by observing a minute’s silence to pay homage to the martyrs of the terrorist attack in Pulwama.
 
The convention was presided by a presidium comprising Hemalata, president of CITU, Mohan Sharma (AITUC), Deepak Sharma (INTUC), C A Raja Sridhar (HMS), RK Sharma (AIUTUC), Probir Banerjee (TUCC), Lata, Santosh Rai (SEWA), Jawahar Singh (LPF) and Ashok Ghosh (UTUC). 
 
Tapan Sen, general secretary of CITU, Amarjeet Kaur (AITUC), Ashok Singh (INTUC), Harbhajan Singh Sidhu (HMSO), Satyavan Singh (AIUTUC), G Devarajan (TUCC), Sonia George (SEWA), Rajiv Dimri (AICCTU), Rashid Khan (LPF) and Shatrujith (UTUC) spoke in support of the charter of demands and reiterated the call to oust Modi government. 
 
Tapan Sen said that the ‘Workers’ Charter’ was an expansion of the 12 point charter of demands for which the entire trade union movement of the country has been fighting for several years. Three country wide general strikes, including the two day general strike on January 8-9, 2019, in which around 20 crore workers participated, were held during the tenure of this Modi government. But the present government was not only totally insensitive to the genuine demands of the workers, it sought to further perpetrate the attacks on the working class and all sections of toiling masses to facilitate amassing of wealth by a few corporates and business houses. 
 
Tapan Sen said that during its entire tenure the BJP led Modi government took no initiative to address the Kashmir issue and kept it boiling with an intention to use it to polarise the country for its electoral benefit. After the Pulwama terrorist attack, when the entire country needs to stand united to fight terrorism as one man, the BJP leaders including the prime minister were shamelessly and criminally politicising the issue, for their electoral benefits by whipping up war hysteria among the people. In their quest for power, they have no qualms in provoking their outfits to attack innocent Kashmiri students and traders in various states in the country. This would further alienate the people in Kashmir and aggravate the situation threatening our national integrity and harmony. 
 
Working class wants peace and progress; not war and destruction. Tapan Sen asserted that this was the most criminal and anti-national government the country has even witnessed. It should be thrown out lock stock and barrel. The working class must play the leading role in this. The ‘Workers’ Charter’ should be taken to the remotest nook and corner of the country reaching every worker, peasant and agricultural worker. The campaign should also be a warning to whichever government comes to power that the working class will not tolerate continuation of the neoliberal regime any more. 
 
The national convention of workers demonstrated in no uncertain terms the united will of the working class in the country to fight the anti-worker, anti-people and anti-national neoliberal regime aiming at its reversal and for pro-people and pro-worker policies.
 
 
Workers’ Charter
 
    1. Take immediate concrete measures to control sky rocketing prices of essential commodities; ban speculative trade in essential commodities; expand and strengthen public distribution system; no compulsory linkage of Aadhaar to avail services of PDS
    2. Check unemployment through policies encouraging labour intensive establishments; link financial assistance to employers with employment generation; fill up all vacant posts in government departments; lift the ban on recruitment and 3 per cent annual surrender of government posts
    3. Check outsourcing and contractorisation of jobs of permanent and perennial nature
    4. Strictly implement equal wage and benefits to contract workers doing the same job as permanent workers, as per Supreme Court judgment
    5. Strict implementation of equal pay for equal work for men and women as per Indian constitution
    6. Fix national minimum wage as per the recommendations of 15th Indian Labour Conference and Supreme Court judgement in the Raptakos & Brett case
    7. Assure minimum pension of Rs 6000 per month and indexed pension to all
    8. Recognise workers employed in different government schemes, including anganwadi workers and helpers, ASHAs and others employed in the National Health Mission, midday meal workers, para teachers, teaching and non teaching staff of National Child Labour Projects, etc as workers and pay minimum wages, social security benefits including pension etc to all of them
    9. Immediately revoke ‘Fixed Term Employment’ which is in violation of the spirit of ILO Recommendation 204 which India has ratified
    10. Stop disinvestment of public sector undertakings 
    11. Revoke the decision to privatise railways, defence, port and dock, banks, insurance, coal etc. Immediately revoke decision allowing commercial mining of coal mines
    12. Immediately resolve the issues of the central government employees related to the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission
    13. Scrap NPS and restore the Old Pension Scheme
    14. Stop anti-worker and pro-employer amendments to the labour laws. Ensure strict implementation of the existing labour laws
    15. Implement paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, maternity benefit and crèche facilities for women workers
    16. Strict implementation of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act
    17. Ratify ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association and right to collective bargaining along with the ILO Convention 189 on domestic workers
    18. Strengthen bipartism and tripartism; no decision should be taken on any issue related to labour without consensus through discussion with trade unions
    19. Cut the subsidies given to the corporates 
    20. Minimum support price as per the recommendations of Swaminathan Commission recommendations; strengthen public procurement system
    21. Loan waiver to farmers
    22. Comprehensive legislation covering social security and working conditions for agricultural workers
    23. 200 days of work under MGNREGA. Enact similar legislation to cover urban areas. Fix minimum wages not less than minimum wages of the state
    24. Ensure effective implementation of Article 51 A of the constitution that calls upon all citizens to promote harmony, spirit of common brotherhood, diversities and to transcend religious, linguistic, regional and sectional culture and to denounce policies derogatory to the dignity of women
    25. Enact legislation to protect couples opting for intercaste marriages
    26. Ensure strict punishment for all guilty of rape and other cases of violence against women
    27. Strict implementation of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act
    28. Ensure filling up of all posts reserved for SC/STs
    29. Free education to all children up to Class XII along with technical education
    30. Free health care for all. Strengthen health infrastructure. Increase government expenditure on health to 5 per cent of GDP
    31. Right to work as fundamental right by amending the constitution