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'Withdraw new labour codes': Unions observe workers' resistance day across India

By Harsh Thakor* 

The Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA), a coordination platform of 17 workers organisations/ unions, staged Workers’ Resistance Day on 8th February, 2024, engulfing the entire country against the allegedly anti-worker policies and to press for the just demands of the working masses in the country.
Protest demonstrations, rallies and agitational programmes were held in different state capitals, inclulding Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Patna, Jaipurand Lucknow in different industrial belts like Gurgaon-Manesar, Rudrapur-Haridwar, Godavari basin coal-belt etc. and in different district headquarters simultaneously.
A MASA source claimed, the working masses in the country are facing the brunt of massive attacks by the Modi government and various state governments patronized by Indian and foreign big capitals in the form of new anti-worker labour codes, massive privatization drive, unemployment, inflation, attacks on union-rights and other anti-worker policies and actions.
MASA highlighted how the “fascist forces” like RSS-BJP are using religion to garner political gains and fuel hatred and division among the common people to divert the toiling mass from struggles waged against capitalist-imperialist exploitation and attacks on their livelihoods. 
“While observing Mazdoor Pratirodh Divas/Workers’ Resistance Day, the working masses – urban, industrial, and rural – took to the streets all over the country against the attacks on the working people by domestic and foreign capitalists and fascist forces and for a dignified life and real democracy”, said a statement by MASA.
The central demands raised during the protest programmes were:
  • Four new labour codes should to be withdrawn.
  • Labour laws should be reformed in the interest of workers and preservation of labour laws should be ensured for all workers.
  • Privatization of core sectors and services should stop.
  • Provision of employment, secure and permanent income should be made for all.
  • Schemes meant for ASHA, Anganwadi, Bhojan Mata etc. workers, domestic workers, IT workers, gig workers should be given the status of ‘workers’ and given protection under the labour laws and be given respectable wages.
  • Rural workers should have year-round work, social security, and respectable wages.
  • The right to unionize and organize and the right to strike and protest should not be taken away.
  • There should be minimum wage of Rs 26,000 per month for all.
  • Politics of religious-caste-gender discrimination and religious hatred should be eradicated.
Along with these core demands, various regional level demands for workers were also raised.

Report of the protest programmes

In Delhi, a protest demonstration was organized at Jantar Mantar where factory workers, domestic workers, sanitation workers, gig workers and workers from different unorganized sectors participated. The demonstration was organized by MASA constituents in Delhi – IMK, MSK, IFTU(S), GMU, TUCI, MSS – and joined by other fraternal organizations like MEC, AIFTU (New), SKM, Lokpaksh etc.
In Haryana, protest demonstrations were organized in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Gohana and Karnal. In Gurgaon, workers’ rally was taken out from Rajiv Chowk to the DC office and a demonstration was held there. Workers and union leaders from Maruti Suzuki Manesar and Gurgaon plant, Bellsonica, Daikin, MMTC, IGLO etc., workers from Udyog Vihar garment sector, and unorganized workers from different slums of Gurgaon participated in the programme.
In Faridabad, industrial workers held a demonstration at the DC office at Sector 12, Faridabad. In Jind, Kaithal, Karnal, Gohana and Krukshetra, MNREGA workers, construction workers, Anganwadi-mid day meal-ASHA workers and rural agricultural workers participated in various agitational protests. MASA constituents in Haryana – Jan Sangharsh Manch Haryana, IMK and MSK – took active part in organizing protest demonstrations.
In Uttarakhand, protest programmes were held in Rudrapur, Haridwar, Dehradun and Kashipur. In Rudrapur, Sanyukt Shramik Morcha and industrial workers from various factories like Interarch, Bhagwati Micromax, Nestle, Mahindra, Adwik, Bajaj Motors, PDPL, Mantri Metal, Neel Metal, CII India, Tata Autocom, Rocket Riddhi Siddhi, LGB, Karolia Lighting, Lucas TVS etc in SIDCUL industrial area took part in workers rally and protest demonstration in front of the labour department in Rudrapur city.
In Haridwar SIDCUL area, a protest demonstration was held at the BHEL factory gate by the BHEL Mazdoor Trade Union and other factory workers. Protests were held in the state capital Dehradun and Kashipur industrial area. MASA constituents IMK, MSK and MSS took active roles in organizing protest programmes in Uttarakhand.
In Uttar Pradesh, protest demonstrations of industrial and unorganised workers were organized in Lucknow, Bareilly, Shamli and Meerut. In Sultanpur and Balia in Eastern UP, rural and unorganized workers from various sectors participated. MASA constituents IMK, MSS and LJMU took active roles in organizing protest programmes in Uttar Pradesh.
In Bihar, protest demonstrations were organized in Patna and Rohtas district. In Patna, construction workers, rural workers from other districts and other unorganized sector workers assembled in large numbers at Buddha Smriti Park at Patna Junction and held a protest programme.
In Rohtas district, protest demonstrations were held where rural workers from MNREGA and other sectors actively took part. MASA constituents IFTU (Sarwahara), Grameen Mazdoor Union Bihar and fraternal organizations Bihar Nirman and Asangathit Shramik Union, AIFTU (New) in coordination with MASA took active roles in organizing protest programmes in Bihar.
In West Bengal, due to secondary examination, the programme was preponed to 20th January, when a workers’ rally comprising of more than 1,000 workers marched to the governor’s house in Kolkata.
Workers from coal, tea, jute, engineering, IT-ITES, BSNL and other public sectors, gig workers, domestic workers, transport workers, MNREGA workers and workers from various urban and rural areas joined the programme. On 8th February, factory-level programmes were held in different hosiery factories in Kolkata. MASA constituents SWCC, Laal Jhanda Mazdoor Union, IFTU (Sarwahara), TUCI took active roles in organizing protest programmes in West Bengal.
In Punjab, two programs were held in Ludhiana. One programme was jointly organized at Chhatar Singh Park near Ludhiana bus stand by MASA constituent IMK-Punjab, Pragatishil Asangathit Nirman Mazdoor Union, Moulder and Steel Workers Union and Lok Ekta Sangathan.
Another protest demonstration was organized at Samrala Chowk by Karkhana Mazdoor Union, Textile-Hosiery Kaamgar Union, Pendu Mazdoor Union (Mashal). Programmes were held in Jagraon and Rampura where Pendu Mazdoor Union (Mashal) and Bhatta Mazdoor Union Rampura (Bhatinda) took initiative.
In Rajasthan, a protest demonstration was organized in Jaipur, where sanitation workers, slum-based unorganized workers participated. MSK took an active role in organizing the protest.
Protest demonstrations were organized in Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Guntur. Coal industry workers from Godavari Basin Singareni coal belt, transport workers, small factory workers, unorganized sector workers from loading-unloading, sanitation and other sectors took part in protests. MASA constituent IFTU took an active role in organizing the protests.
In Chennai MASA constituent NDLF (SCC) organized protests at different factory gates. In Karnataka, MASA constituent Karnataka Shramika Shakthi organized decentralized protests in different districts.
---
*Freelance journalist

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