June 14, 2020

CTUs Call for Protest on July 3

THE Central Trade Unions (CTUs) – INTUC, AITUC, CITU, HMS, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC – in their meeting on June 3, 2020, congratulated the workers for responding enthusiastically to the nation-wide protest call demanding immediate halt to changes in labour laws. The meeting took serious note of the continuous aggressive attack on the workers’ rights ignoring all the joint representations to the government on the matter including the nationwide protest on May 22. They called upon the workers to make success the nationwide protest day on  July 3.

The leaders of the various CTUs opined that the government failed in getting its own orders and advisories implemented in regard to payment of wages and no retrenchments during the lockdown period. Instead, it withdrew its own decision in the face of the case in Supreme Court by the employers of some companies, they said.

“The government did not heed to the demand of cash transfer of Rs 7,500 to all non-income-tax-paying households including unorganised labour (registered or unregistered) for the months of April, May, June, neither the demand for government support to pay the wages of workers of MSMEs for these three months. The ration to all working people for at least six months to be made available universally also did not find favour with the government. Neither our demand for workers' safe journey home paid attention to,” the CTUs said in a joint statement issued on June 5.

They pointed out that following the government’s failure to aid the workers, the Supreme Court had to take cognizance and ask the governments of centre and states not to demand passenger fares from workers, give them proper shelter and food till they are transported to their homes. Nineteen High Courts had taken cognizance of workers, frontline fighters and hospital services etc during this period.

“We reiterate that the central government chose the cover of Covid-19 lockdown to push through its agenda of disinvestment and wholesale privatisation of public sector enterprises, 100 per cent FDI in core sectors - railways, defence, port and dock, coal, Air India, banks, insurance etc., steps in favour of corporates of Indian and foreign origin to usurp natural resources and business of the country while mouthing the slogan of Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat,” the joint statement read.

The CTUs said that the earlier decisions and those taken during Covid-19 lockdown on privatisation, corporatisation and commercialisation in defense, coal, space science, atomic energy, insurance, banks and most of the PSUs are being pursued with vigour and arrogance. They said that the decision of freezing dearness allowance (DA) of  48 lakh central government employees and dearness relief (DR) freeze of 68 lakh pensioners, which also has an impact on the state government employees, is not withdrawn despite vehement opposition from government employees and CTUs.

The trade unions said that the workers across the country are in an agitation mode. While the electricity workers and engineers have jointly observed countrywide protest against  the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 on June 1, sectoral struggles are developing in various sectors, they said and declared their support to the protest programmes taken up by defence federations including ‘strike ballots’ and those in the coal mine sector on June 10 and 11.

The CTUs reminded that the scheme workers, ASHAs, Anganwadis, MDM workers, 108 ambulance employees, etc and the nurses and doctors who are in the front ranks at the community level for combating Covid-19 have agitated demanding safety measures which have not been addressed appropriately. The scheme workers are also being denied payment of honorarium for the lockdown period. ASHAs, anganwadi employees, doctors, nurses, safai karamcharis, have been in the protests now and then in various parts of the country on similar demands. The CTUs declared support to all these agitations on their just demands.

“The so-called Rs 20 lakh crore package of the government is nothing but a hoax and cruel joke on the suffering people; this mainly comprises loan guarantee to various sectors and the actual relief package reaching people is not even one per cent of the GDP. Even previously announced budgetary allocations and welfare schemes such as PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, Construction Workers Welfare Board and District Mineral Funds etc have been unscrupulously repackaged to befool the people,” the CTUs said in the joint statement.

They said that the workers who have returned to their villages would need work, so there is dire need of additional amount to cover these workers along with the existing needs of rural labourers. “But the sum announced was paltry in face of the demand at the ground level. We demand that the coverage of MNREGA must be enhanced sufficiently to meet the demand for livelihood and work for all including the returned migrant workers; similar employment guarantee should also be extended for the urban areas to meet the demand for work and livelihood for all including the most suffering unorganised sector workers; they should also be provided universal social security including health care and food support,” they said.

With the opening up of some industrial units, only a small percentage of workers is finding their place back in jobs and that too on reduced wages and without pay for the lockdown period, the CTUs said and added that the workers should unitedly combat for justice and also demanded the governments for immediate corrective interventions in that direction.

The CTU’s joint statement said that the jobless are more than 14 crore and if the daily wagers, contract and casual, are included, it is more than 24 crores who are out of livelihood at present. “The MSMEs themselves are reporting that 30 to 35 per cent units may not be in position to start their activities. The unemployment rate has already reached 27 per cent. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said in its report that more than 40 crore people would be pushed into deeper poverty. According to eminent scientists and medical experts, India is faced with stark reality, that malnutrition would increase, hunger deaths would become a daily reality, and there is a real threat of depression resulting in suicides amongst workers,” they said.

The CTUs said that the Modi government has most insensitively dealt with the problem of Covid-19 as a law and order issue instead of treating it as a medical emergency. “A government which has no respect and concern towards the rights and basic survival-entitlements of workers and the people does not deserve any co-operation. We the workers and trade unions need to do everything possible to be in solidarity with each other, unitedly face the disease taking all precautions necessary, stand with each other to defend our rights of unionisation, collective bargaining, decent working conditions, wages and future securities etc,” said the statement.

The central trade unions, independent federations and associations have jointly decided to observe nationwide protest day on July 3 maintaining physical distancing and other precautions. “This programme is in preparation and prelude to further united struggle of prolonged non-cooperation and defiance of the anti-people, anti-national policies of the government and in defence of our rights and basic entitlements,” they said.

“We demand the government to immediately hold the long overdue Indian Labour Conference to dwell upon the 12 point charter of demands, the labour and trade union rights, issues of job losses, wages, job security, the migrant workers’ issues including their journey to home and return journey to those who desire to join back their work, instead of frequently meeting only the employers and corporate organisations,” the union leaders said.

The CTUs called upon the working class and trade unions of all affiliations to make the programme of nationwide protest day a massive success throughout the country. The concrete form of non-cooperation and defiance including nationwide general strike will be decided by the joint platform of central trade unions and independent federations and associations at appropriate time in the next phase after the observance of the nationwide protest day, they informed.