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India's 14 crore go jobless, 35% MSMEs face closure, govt 'woos' FDI, corporates

Counterview Desk
The national platform of Central Trade Unions (CTUs)*, even as calling upon working class to observe the Quit India day August 9 as Save India day, and observe solidarity actions on August 18, when the coalmine workers across India go in for strike, has said that the Government of India has “failed” to implement its own order regarding payment of lockdown period wages and no retrenchments and no cut in wages, leading to sharp rise of joblessness.
Alleging that the government “continues with its arrogant attitude” of going ahead with privatisation of key PSU enterprises, even as “dangerously” liberalising foreign entry in vital sectors of the economy like defence, in a statement following their meeting on July 18, CTUs said, there is a need to intensify the “united struggle of non-cooperation and defiance to anti-worker, anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-national policies of the government.”

Text:

The joint platform of Central Trade Unions (CTUs) met on July 8 and then again on July 18 along with sectoral federations and associations to plan next course of agitations. The meeting took note that the working class under the banner of CTUs and the sectoral federations and associations-observed nationwide protest day on July 3, 2020, as a massive success throughout the country, in all workplaces and centres as a united struggle of non-cooperation and defiance to anti-worker, anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-national policies of the government.
The action programmes were organised in almost one lakh places in the states in the work places, union offices, on roads and streets including processions, cycle and motorbike rallies, public meetings.
The joint platform of CTUs, independent sectoral federations and associations congratulated the coal workers who successfully held strike for three days, on July 2-4, 2020, bringing the coal mines and establishments under Coal India and SCCL to grinding halt with no production and no dispatch of coal.
The strike was called to oppose and resist the government decision to completely privatise the coal sector through unregulated commercial mining of coal and trading by private sector including foreign entities much to the detriment of national interests and self-reliance. The coal unions have once again decided to go on strike on August 18, 2020 – the last day of bidding for allotment of coal blocks for private commercial mining.
The meeting noted that with the opening up of some industrial units, all workers are not being taken back, only a small percentage is finding their place back in jobs and that also on reduced wages and refusal to pay lockdown period salary. Such denial of employment, and pressing for wage-reduction have to be unitedly combated.
The recent decision of the Air India authorities to give notice to 20,000 employees to go on leave without pay for six months, including the provision of compulsory (forced) leave without pay, which may get extended to five years is grossly violative of the existing statutes.
The jobless are more than 14 crore, and if we add the daily wagers/contract/casual, it is more than 24 crore who are out of livelihood at present. MSMEs themselves are reporting that 30% to 35% units may not be in position to start their activities. The unemployment rate is high.
ILO has said in its report that more than 40 crore people would be pushed into deeper poverty. That the malnutrition would increase, hunger deaths would become a daily reality, and there is real threat of depression resulting in suicides amongst workers say the eminent scientists and medical experts. All these issues are enraging workers.
The meeting once again reiterated the stand of CTUs that the government not only failed in taking necessary steps to contain the pandemic in time having wasted four precious months, imposed unplanned lockdown with short notice bringing in severe miseries to the people, especially the migrant labour. It failed in taking essential steps for upgrading health system and providing the safety equipments to front line warriors.
It not only failed to recognise the immense services provided by employees of Indian Railways, defence, banks, insurance, telecom, postal and other sectors providing essential services during lockdown period, but did not address the problems they faced, it faultered in dealing with the problem of Covid-19 as law and order issue instead of treating it as medical emergency for the human beings and society. It has caused immense miseries to millions of workers, farmers and other vulnerable sections of the society, whereas, government stood only by the corporates and big businesses.
The CTUs reiterated their opposition to disinvestment and wholesale privatisation of public sector enterprises, entry of FDI in core sectors up to the tune of 100 per cent – Indian Railways, defence, port and dock, coal, Air India, banks, insurance – including of privatisation of space science and atomic energy etc., public sector banks, insurance and other financial sectors are also being targeted for large-scale privatisation. 
Steps in favour of corporates of Indian and foreign brands to usurp natural resources and business of the country while mouthing the slogan of Aatmanirbhar Bharat are being pushed through shamelessly.
The decision of DA freeze of 48 lakh Central government employees and DR freeze of 68 lakh pensioners, which is also having impact on the state government employees, is not withdrawn despite vehement opposition from government employees and CTUs. Neither the demand of cash transfer of Rs 7,500 to all non-income tax paying persons accepted.
The government having failed in getting its own orders in regard to payment of lockdown period wages, no retrenchments and no cut in wages shamelessly withdrew its own order in the Supreme Court of India when some employers went to court against these orders.
Defence sector workers are planning strike action in mid-September 2020, with the united platform of CTUs deciding to hold countrywide general strike on the occasion
The government continues with its arrogant attitude of going ahead with privatisation and sale of PSUs, and dangerously liberalizing foreign entry in vital sectors of the economy like defence production from 49 to 74% along with corporatization of 41 ordnance factories for privatization; it is also going ahead with its project of privatizing the Indian Railways in phases, the latest being its destructive decision of privatizing 151 train services in highly remunerative routes to facilitate private players to make huge profit using infrastructure and manpower of Indian Railways.
The policy of surrendering of sanctioned posts and ban of creation of new jobs in various government departments continues in detriment to the young aspirants for jobs. On the top of it the continuous price-rise in petrol and diesel made effective on 22 occasions in the last two months is another big blow to the people.
A government which has no respect and concern, towards the rights and basic survival-entitlements of workers and the people, does not deserve any cooperation. We the workers/employees 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 unionization, collective bargaining, decent working condition, wages & future securities etc.
This government has demonstrated cruel insensitivity of the basic human needs of the workers and people. This cannot be endorsed and cooperated with.
Hence the united platform of Central Trade Unions and Federations/Associations called upon to step up the struggles against the anti-people, anti-worker policies of the Govt both on sectoral and national level with continuity. It was decided that: 
  1. On August 9, the Quit India day should be observed as Save India day through countrywide stayagraha/jail bharo-or any other form of militant agitations in all workplaces/industrial centres/district headquarters and rural areas etc.
  2. On the day of coal workers strike on August 18, 2020, militant solidarity actions in all workplaces and the PSUs in particular; possibility of strike action should be explored wherever is possible. 
  3. The defence sector unions/federations have been jointly planning to give notice for strike on the basis of the strike ballot approved by more than 99 per cent workers. They may go for strike action sometimes in mid-September 2020. The united platform of CTUs and federations conceived the idea of countrywide general strike against the policies of the government, synchronising with the defence sector strike, and called upon all concerned to start preparation in that direction. 
  4. It is noted that the scheme workers unions/federations (anganwadi, ASHA, mid-day meal etc.) have jointly decided to go in for two days strike on August 7-8, 2020 which will converge with countrywide satyagraha/jail bharo/agitation on 9th August 2020. The joint meeting of CTUs and federations called upon all concerned to express solidarity with the Scheme workers strike action. 
  5. It has also been decided to continue countrywide campaign against the government move on Railway privatization in coordination with the unions/federations with the Railways sector and also independently. The Railway Federations reported that they are also planning and preparing for their response/actions at appropriate time. 
  6. It was agreed that the petition to President of India as a campaign which is circulated among CTUs will be finalized after receiving suggestions and then starting it as change.org campaign. Another suggestion was taken on board to initiate another petition to focus on specially unorganised sector workers’ problems. It was also decided that the platform of CTUs will once again meet on July 27, for detailed discussion on preparations of 9th August program to make it effective and visible. 
We call upon all the state chapters of CTUs to conduct their meetings inviting the sectoral federations and associations to plan about the next phase of agitation, and take the exercise to districts and enterprise/industry level.
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*Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC ), Hind Mazdur Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Trade Union Coordination Committee (TUCC), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF), United Trade Union Congress (UTUC), Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) and federations and associations of various sectors

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