Friday, September 02, 2016

All-India strike: Ahmedabad's 400 workers detained, taken to Police Stadium amidst anti-Modi slogans

Protesting  women workers being taken to Police Stadium
By Mujahid Nafees
The Gujarat Police cracked down on 400-odd protesting workers, participating in the nationwide all-India strike, in Ahmedabad, first barricading them from all sides, and then detaining and taking them to the sprawling Police Stadium, so that they could not take out a rally on Ashram Road.
Shouting slogans against “anti-worker” policies of the Narendra Modi government, the workers were seeking to take out a rally as part of the all-India strike, called for September 2. They were attached with the Federation of Trade Unions and Jan Sangharsh Manch, a civil rights organization.
Kept in police custody till late afternoon, the workers, many of whom were women, shouted anti-Modi and workers’ unity slogans at the Police Stadium, which is situated in the posh Shahibagh area of Ahmedabad. An emergency van, 108, was called in as a detainee went ill. He was treated in the Police Stadium.
While the workers were brought to the Police Stadium in five vans them to Shahibaug Police stadium, around 200 more reached there to get themselves detained. Even as the cops served the protesters lunch, a participant in the rally said, “One reason why we were detained was, we were not given permission for taking out the rally.”
He added, “Instead of spending tax payers’ money to feed the participants of the rally, had the police given permission, all of us would have demanded for our rights peacefully, and gone back home. It has done it to keep the Gujarat model in wraps.”
Protests also took place in Vadodara, where thousands of workers participated in all a rally in support of the worker's strike called by central trade union. The rally began at Gandhinagar Gruha and went to Kothi Khachar and submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister through the district collector, Vadodara.
Trade Union rally in Vadodara
The all-India strike has been called against the “path of liberalisation, privatisation and globalization”, which began in 1991, and is now being aggressively adopted by the Modi government. The last general strike, observed on September 2, 2015, saw participation from nearly 150 million workers.
In this strike, all central trade unions, except the RSS-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), have joined hands with independent national federations of workers in banks, insurance, telecom and state and central government departments to protest what they call the “anti-worker, anti-people policies of the government.”
The unions want the government to take urgent measures to contain price rise by making the public distribution system more efficient and banning speculative trade in the commodity market, strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption, stringent measures to punish those who violate these rules, universal social security cover to all, and workers minimum wage of not less than Rs 18,000 a month with provisions of indexation.
The unions’ charter also calls for assured, enhanced pension not less than Rs 3,000 a month for the entire working population, including those in the unorganised sector, payment of same wage and benefits for contract workers as that of regular workers, and removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus and provident fund and increase in quantum of gratuity.

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