Anakapalli1

Recent Month-long strike  of  Quarry/Stone Crushers Motor  workers of Anakapalli  area in Visakhapatnam District exposes harsh realities about how workers’ democratic  rights are denied in India, in particular  in Andhra Pradesh, despite high-sounding claims about democracy. 

The sustained workers’ movement and the strike was by a small section of workers, but has exposed many features of India’s sham democracy, which cannot be called Rule of Law, as is claimed. It is part of sustained efforts by FITU to build a conscious and militant working class movement, inseparable from a larger mass movement for real democracy in India.

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 Visakhapatnam city in Andhra Pradesh State is now in everyday front page news in Telugu media on account of the agitation going on against proposals of privatisation of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. Except BJP, almost all political parties, many of  which had supported and implemented the Privatisation policies earlier when they were in power, like the Telugu Desam Party  led by Chandra Babu Naidu, are now competing with all others in championing this agitation  using the emotive slogan “Visakha Vukku Andhrula Hakku” ( meaning, Visakha Steel Plant is the Right of people of Andhra). The ruling YSRC Party is also not sparing any effort in this race. It had even openly supported the Bandh calls given by the agitators and, moreover its government too implemented certain measures to make the Bandh a success.

Ironically, while such a hype is going on with this anti-privatisation agitation, a forgotten issue regarding non-settlement of the grievances of those displaced  families (whose land was taken away for the said Steel Plant) in respect of  non-payment of justified compensation and non-implementation of assurances of providing employment to the wards of the said displaced has come to fore once again. This reminds us of  the bitter truth that most of the ruling-class political parties and their mouth-piece media in our country, and even their governments  would speak and do anything about only those issues which they would treat as politically expedient  and  from which they  would get immediate political mileage, whereas  any other basic or serious problems of the people do not matter much for them,  people’s suffering for decades notwithstanding. That is why the serious problem of the 8000 displaced people, related to the same Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, still remain unsolved and it is no issue for the governments, political parties   and the main stream media.

Similar is the story of suppression of a month long Strike agitation and democratic rights of about 250 motor workers  (truck drivers etc.,)  of  different Quarries/ Stone Crushers, situated near Anakapalli. It is just 30  km away from the said Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. Their  tyrant  managements, who still could not come out of their feudal land lord character and culture,  aided by  the labour and police departments, do not want to allow any genuine trade union activity.  This is  no issue for any political party, ruling or opposition,   competing in the latest “Visakha Vukku AndhrulaHakku” agitation. The said strike was by a small section of workers, but has shown  many notable features of India’s sham democracy, and resistance put up by workers.

Anakapalli2

The Democratic Rights of these quarry-crushers-workers are being trampled down  by the managements with all their economic and political might. These workers were left with no alternative than going on a strike in last December for realising  their highly justified demands, and then, were made to enjoy the real  taste of “democracy”  of Indian variety. Labour authorities,  peoples representatives, police officers and, alas! even the High Court of Andhra Pradesh played their part  to strengthen the hands of managements to defeat the strike  in many ways. The managements did  not agree for an  amicable settlement,  prolonged  the strike for nearly one month, withheld  payment of wages for the work done before strike and  made  illegal deductions of eight days wages. They filed   false criminal cases against the workers and union leaders, and  finally have  not allowed  the workers to duties even after the strike was withdrawn and engaged new workers in their place claiming that the services of workers stand terminated for going on “illegal” strike. Sounds like same old story of so many workers’ strikes in the country! True, yet, the present story of these workers of Anakapalli is worth being told as a case study because it happened in the country  being ruled by those who are providing  an altogether different meaning to “democracy”  and in a State  being ruled by  a Chief-Minister whose government boasts of  his brand of “welfare schemes”, popularly known as “navarathnalu” ( nine gems ).

Labor Laws Violated With Impunity

These workers just demanded a negotiated settlement to be signed by the managements with their Registered Trade Union in respect of a reasonable wage increase (to be effective from March, 2020) and of implementation of labour laws like ESI and PF, which the managements have been flouting for decades with impunity. The managements did not even take up negotiations, openly declaring that they will not negotiate with the union of workers. They did not even attend three joint meetings called by an Assistant Labour Commissioner. They did not respond to a Strike Notice issued by the workers union in July, 2020. No labour authority took any action on the said strike notice at that time. However, the workers did not take up strike then, and after waiting for two more months, their  union again gave another strike notice in November,  2020. This time also, there was no response from the managements. After waiting for one month time from the date of issuing strike notice and as there were no negotiations, the workers commenced strike from 15th December, 2020.

Instead of taking up proper negotiations and settling the matter amicably, which could be resolved so, the managements went on taking up several measures to suppress the strike with the help of labour authorities, police and courts,  falsely contending that the strike is illegal as it was commenced when conciliation proceedings were pending before the JCL, eventhough no meaningful negotiations were going on and  postponements of joint meetings were only happening.  These managements calling the strike   as illegal is like the devils  quoting  the scriptures as there is no  labour law which is not violated by them  for decades.

These managements are unrelentingly trying to crush the trade union of the workers, the Visakha Zilla Motor Transport Workers Union, affiliated to Federation  of Independent Trade Unions-FITU, ever since it was formed and got registered in the year 2017. Mobilising and uniting hundreds of drivers etc., motor workers of different quarry crushers, in  April, 2018, this union was successful in achieving  an agreement with the Association of the Managements with a 33%  wage increase which went up to 40 to 45 per cent with  certain other benefits like paid leaves and holidays etc. They could achieve proper compensation on the occasions of accidents etc. It educated the workers and successfully mobilised them to fully participate in all the All India General Strikes  called by central trade unions during this period with FITU demands against the  dependent, autocratic and jingoistic policies of central government.

FITU   is a federation of unions  which worked in  various public and private sector industries, spread over two districts (East and West Godavari, and then spread to Visakha dt),  for more than three decades.  Opposing trade union autocracy in favour of TU democracy, and going beyond economism is its policy to educate, politicize and organize the working class.  It has been supporting the agrarian struggles of the rural poor, as also mass movements of the people in general. It supported the ongoing struggle of the farmers against the farm laws imposed by the Modi govt.

On Nov.26 last, for instance, it held several educative activities as part of the all India strike. The FITU held rallies at many places where speakers explained how India’s democracy is more formal than real, how it stirred up and used jingoism (more so against China and Pakistan) and pushed towards fascism, suppressed rights, denied right of self-determination to Kashmir. These issues and related demands were raised in the FITU pamphlet which explained the larger question of democracy for which workers should fight. This kind of political education and training of workers has been a unique feature of FITU, and missing in other unions, including those led by the leftists.

The managements of the quarry crushers wanted to crush this FITU affiliated union of the workers and took up several measures in its pursuit. They, with the help  of a labour authority at the level of Dy.Commissioner of Labour, (DCL) tried to get the union deregistered. The union and workers  led by  FITU and  with the help of  Organization for Protection of Democratic Rights-OPDR  took up tough fight, foiled these attempts of the managements and saved their union. Similarly some of the managements illegally terminated the services of some senior  workers who are actively participating in the union and the union could achieve the reinstatement of these workers through proper and effective agitations. Therefore the managements firmly decided that they should not negotiate with this union on the charter of demands for increase of wages  to be effective from March,2020 and implementation of labour laws like PF etc. This anti-worker, undemocratic and recalcitrant attitude of the managements made it inevitable for the workers to take the decision of Strike.

When the union issued its second strike notice on 16th November, 2020, the   labour authority of Visakhapatnam Zone called JCL, (Joint Commissioner of Labour) has to take up, by law, conciliation  efforts to ensure an amicable settlement after receiving copy of strike notice without delay and close the same within 14 days. However the said authority called joint meetings between representatives of workers and managements  after much delay and only to postpone the same, without conducting any negotiations at all, till the date of expiry of the strike notice. This he did  despite  deliberate  absence of the managements for the meetings  and despite specific objection by the workers union for such unlawful and unjustified postponements of meetings. Thus the  said JCL, having colluded with the managements, deliberately tried to see that there would not be any negotiations and amicable settlement before the expiry of the subsisting period of notice of strike and made the strike inevitable for the workers.

This labour authority conducted conciliation  meetings after the Strike was commenced, which the managements also attended, only  literally  to dance  to the tunes of managements in those  proceedings. The said JCL, succumbing to the pressure from the managements did not allow the non-worker leaders (FITU leaders), who are lawfully functioning as the office-bearers of the union, to participate in the negotiations, citing a judgement of Andhra Pradesh High Court in Nellimarla Jute Mills case. Though there were several genuine methods for conducting the negotiations allowing these leaders, the JCL ordered these leaders out of negotiations and tried to coerce the less educated and innocent worker-leaders of the union to agree for the illegal and unfair terms of managements. He did not question the lawlessness of the managements. He did not advise them to agree for fair and reasonable terms.

The managements insisted  on closing the conciliation proceedings and referring the matter to labour court for adjudication (which would take years to conclude). The JCL succumbed to the managements and closed  the conciliation and sent a report to the next higher authority i.e., the Additional Commissioner of Labour at Vijayawada. The workers union, the leaders of FITU and of OPDR  jointly approached the Spl.Commissioner of Labour, AP,  Vijayawada ( the highest authority in state labour department), complained against the anti-worker attitude and actions of the JCL/VSP  and requested not to send the dispute to Labour Court and to continue the negotiations at her level to bring about a settlement rendering justice to the workers and protecting the rights of workers. The said Spl.Commissioner stopped the matter from being sent to the court and assured continuation of negotiations in their office.

The leaders and representatives met the Spl.Commissioner on 4th January and she assured to fix joint meeting on 11thJanuary. However, for obvious reasons, she did not fix the meeting as assured. Again the FITU and OPDR  leaders followed up the matter and the authority fixed a meeting on 21st January  only to postpone it again to 3rd February, which the managements did not attend.  The authority did not fix the next  meeting and even was not available to the leaders of workers for several days. The workers’ leaders perseveringly visited the office of this Spl.Commissioner of Labour for getting a meeting fixed and the authority finally  fixed a meeting on 16thFebruary. That was how the government labour authorities played their  part of anti-worker role in  working in favour of the managements and in trying to defeat the right to strike of the workers!

The present Jaganmohan Reddy led YSRCP government came to power with  landslide majority promising policies  different from the anti-worker  and anti-people policies pursued by its predecessor Chandrababu Naidu led TDP government. It started booking illegal mining cases against the quarry/crushers owners near the same Anakapalli area,  imposed tens of crores of penalties  and even seized the operations of one big quarry/Crusher (owned by a big wig, known supporter of TDP), the workers of which numbering about 100 (non-members of union in this story) were rendered jobless for the last 10 months

The people in this region are not able to believe that this present government would stop illegal mining as  they knew very well  the real purposes of  the governments  and the ruling parties behind booking cases against the quarry crushers owners. Let it be  assumed that the present government is genuinely doing this as it is a naked fact that these quarry crushers owners, with the active support of the previous TDP government,  flouted many  rules  relating to mining and amassed much wealth at the cost of people and society.

What remains  paradoxical and puzzling is that the same present government,  at the same time, is blind to the more naked fact of  flagrant violation of labour and welfare laws  by the same Quarry crushers owners and is failing  to protect the democratic rights of the poor workers. These quarry crushers owners are not implementing hours of work as per law,  not paying overtime wages as per law, not even  issuing appointment orders and wage slips to the workers, not implementing at least  ESI and PF Acts and not  paying gratuities and compensation when workers were retired and retrenched. The workers are forced to  work for 24 hours in a day for 15 days in a month which means that they are working for 360 hours in a month whereas the law stipulates  only 208 hours.

(The statutory  minimum wages applicable to these (Transport) workers were fixed in the year 2007. The earlier Congress government  or TDP government did not bother to revise the same while it should be done for every five years as per law. The present government has completed two years of its tenure and so far no effort for revising the minimum wages for nearly 70 scheduled employments is in sight.)

The union and the workers made umpteen number of representations to authorities as well as  to the local M.L.A.  of the ruling party in respect of the demands of their strike. It is  a matter of one day for the M.L.A.  to ensure the settlement of the dispute. However he  took about one month time to conduct  a second round of negotiations  (first round  negotiations inconclusive) between the representatives of the union and the managements before him.  It was told that the MLA was so busy in overseeing  implementation of various “welfare”  schemes. He took some initiative only after the family members of the workers including women took up some agitational activities. On 11th January, the local MLA called such a meeting and informed the representatives of the workers that the managements were proposing  an  increase of  Rs.2750 per month. When the workers requested him to suggest a fair and reasonable increase as a mediator, the M.L.A suggested for an increase of Rs.3000 per month. The managements have not accepted even this and sought time to think over it, with a view to scuttle the settlement and further prolong the strike.

Sensing the strategy of the managements and also in view of information regarding fixing of a joint meeting by the Spl.Commissioner of Labour, Vijayawada on 21st January, the workers and their union thought it would be wise to call the strike off and accordingly they withdrew the strike, after the above mentioned positive development  in the matter of wage revision, and attended duties from 17th January after the Pongal festival, only to be disallowed by the managements. The managements did not expect the workers would call the strike off, and under the frustration  that they could not crush and fizzle out the strike, they did not allow the workers to duties and  engaged new workers.

The managements demanded the workers to disassociate from the union, saying that  then only the workers would be allowed to duties. The Labor authorities, instead of facilitating the end of the strike and clinching a settlement only helped  them in this. The MLA  has not made any effective efforts to persuade the managements to accept his suggestion and to allow the workers to duties. Instead he, through his P.A., suggested that it would be better for the workers for accepting the conditions of managements.  The workers along with their families made representation to the local M.P.  also,  who  also represents the  ruling party,  requesting necessary  help  for protecting  their constitutional and democratic rights for more than once but to no avail. That was how the so called people’s representatives strengthened the hands of managements to suppress the rights of workers by their actions and inaction, irrespective of the varied  political loyalties of the managements. Ironically all this happened at a  time when the country was celebrating the 75th Republic Day. The FITU used the occasion and educated the workers of the fake democracy .

As the managements were not allowing the workers to duties even after withdrawing the strike and instead were engaging new workers, with the help of police department, the workers and union decided to protest the same mobilising the womenfolk and other members of their families. The union organised meetings of women of the families of the workers in which leaders of FITU and OPDR, (including comrades Ramakrishna, Ch.S.N.Murthy, JVSN Raju and A.S.Naidu) spoke, exposed the fake democracy, and emphasised the role of women in making success various peoples movements. They explained how these workers and people of the region are being exploited by the Quarry crushers managements, by violating all laws,  and how the governments are supporting even this illegal exploitation. They also explained about the efforts of the union for an amicable settlement without strike and how the managements and the Labour Authorities scuttled the same making the strike inevitable for the workers.

Militant Role of women

Prof.Nirmala, a retired professor of Law College of Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, also spoke in solidarity in this meeting : Strike is the birth right of workers. The present laws only fetter this  natural right of the workers. With these laws and restrictions, it is impossible to go on a ‘legal’ strike in our country, particularly in the establishments that were declared as Public Utility Services (like Transport). The present strike of these workers is highly justified irrespective of its legality. It would certainly be successful with the active participation of the women”, said Prof. Nirmala in the meeting.

The women, family members of the workers, were well inspired by these meetings and they participated in militant agitations protesting the illegal acts of the managements. They literally lived in the tents for several days,  day and night, at the site of agitation, which was situated amidst hills, braving dust, cold and police forces. The role played by women in this protest agitation was quite inspiring.

The police tried in vain to persuade and threaten the women to move out of their agitation. When a police officer asked why did  the workers need a union, a woman asked him why should not the workers have a union when so many government employees including the police officers were having their unions and demanding increase in  salaries etc., making  the officer spell bound.

Acting on false complaints of the managements the police booked false cases against some workers and leaders of union under cr.p.c.107 and IPC 506 etc. When some workers were arrested and kept at police station the women of the village concerned agitated and protested against the same and got the workers released.

The leaders of FITU and OPDR stood by the workers, issued several statements and pamphlets, and took up several activities to protect the workers struggle like organising meetings to mobilise the support of various trade unions, mass organizations and democratic forces and representing to various authorities like District Collector,  Police Superintendent and Labour Minister etc.

As a result of all these agitations by workers and their families, five managements among eight had allowed their workers to duties and paid wage dues by the month end of January, 2020. Some of them are implementing wage increase of Rs.3000, and some Rs.2750.  

  However, the remaining three managements namely, Anjani Stone Crushers,  Golden Aggregates and Sri Lakshmi Stone Crushers have not reconciled till date and are not allowing their workers numbering about 50 to duties whilst continuing to engage  new workers despite being advised by the Special Labour Commissioner to allow the workers to duties.

The management of Anjani Stone Crushers, evidently with support of certain Labor and police officials, is spearheading the suppression of workers rights and it is acting in a very unlawful, obstinate and high handed manner. It is claiming with all arrogance that the services of the workers stand terminated as they themselves abandoned the same by way of an illegal strike. (as was similarly claimed by the Chief Minister of  the another Telugu State, Telangana, ( KCR) on the occasion  of a  52 days strike by TSRTC   employees  in 2019  terming it as “ self dismissal” by the employees, showing the people what kind of a “Democratic” Telangana State was brought by him.).

The owner of the said Anjani Stone Crushers is openly stating that he spent crores of rupees (to handle the strike) whereas only a few lakh rupees are enough to meet the just demands of the workers. This management, having not been satisfied with the police actions and cases against the workers, approached the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and prayed for directions to the Home Ministry, Government of A.P for providing police protection to their business from obstruction by workers and others, telling lies and misrepresenting facts to the court and without adding the Workers and their Union as a party in the Writ Petition filed by them. The Andhra Pradesh High Court,  without giving an opportunity to the workers and the labour department to be heard and without caring to verify the facts, passed interim orders directing the Police authorities to provide protection to the business of Anjani Stone Crushers from obstruction by workers and others.

These unjustified and unwarranted orders of the High Court further strengthened the hands of the said management to suppress the rights of workers and to continue their illegal acts using more police power. The High Court further directed that the petitioner management should bear all expenses of the police protection provided to them accepting the pleadings of the management in this respect. Is it not amounting to outright purchase  of the services of state police force by a law breaking employer to suppress the lawful rights of workers?!

No wonder, several courts have issued this kind of orders on many occasions of workers’ and people’s struggles in the country. There is no exaggeration in the recent  statement of the retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Shri Ranjan Gogoi that  the country’s judiciary is ramshackled  and that  it is only the rich and corporate world denizens who are better suited to take their chances in court. He added that he would not approach the top Courts himself.

Using the above mentioned unjust orders from the High Court,  the local police C.I. booked some more false cases against the workers, threatened them to file “Rowdy Sheet”  cases against them and coerced the workers to accept the unlawful terms being dictated by the management that the workers against whom criminal cases were foisted will not be allowed to duties and the rest would be allowed only if they agree to disassociate from the union, thus openly violating the Constitutional Fundamental Rights. That is how the Law and Order machinery is working. This police officer declined  even to talk to the union and FITU leaders and even treated them with scorn. It is obvious why the said police officer was  acting in such a despotic and anti-worker manner.

Thus we can see how  the police and the courts also strengthen the hands of managements in suppressing the rights and genuine struggles of workers.   The workers and their families are continuing their struggle to get back their Employment and to protect their rights with the help of FITU and OPDR. Other unions affiliated to FITU from East and west Godavari Districts, leaders and activists of  a teachers’  organization named APTF (1938)  and of a student organization, DSO have been extending their help to these workers at Anakapalli in several ways including participating in the agitational activities protesting the suppression of the rights of these quarry/crushers  motor workers. Local leaders of AITUC  and CITU and of some workers and employees unions declared their support to the struggles of these quarry crushers motor workers.

During this period of workers struggle, elections to local bodies like village panchayats, municipalities and corporations were conducted in this area  and these elections also played their  role in  creating several hurdles, diversions and  difficulties for the workers movement.  It is also worth noting that in some of the villages where these workers reside the candidates supported by the ruling YSRC Party  were defeated  and they openly admitted that the failure of MLA of their party in ensuring justice to these workers was one of the important reasons for their defeat.

The people in the villages where these quarry crushers are situated have already been suffering a lot from such serious problems of exploitation,  pollution and diseases like CKD  (kidney disease).  As if they are not enough, now, the managements of the quarry crushers are even depriving the workers who hail from the same villages, of their livelihood. The ruling as well as the opposition parties are winking at this heinous injustice.

FITU and OPDR are demanding the government to take stringent action against the managements

– so that all the workers shall be reinstated back into their services immediately,

– their democratic rights should be protected, all labour welfare legislations should be strictly implemented,

– and  effective measures should be implemented to protect the health and lives of the people of the nearby villages.

The workers are being educated about the ever intensifying repressive policies of the rulers and about the need for a protracted struggle to defeat the despotism of the managements.

FITU leaders are trying to devise suitable future agitational  activities to continue their struggle to protect their right to life and right to organize,  hoping to get all help and support from all democratic sections of people.

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Environment and Public Health undermined : Quarries, Fluorosis and Chronic Kidney Disease around Anakapalli.

The Quarries are a valuable asset of people and the income being generated by the mining of the same should primarily be used for the livelihood and development of the people of this region. This is not happening and instead, the people of this region are subjected to severe exploitation, pollution and diseases like CKD (kidney disease) etc., due to lack of even healthy drinking water and various other reasons.

Quarries are a major cause of drinking water contamination and pollution, say scientists, including by high fluoride in Granite mining areas. Fluoride above 0.5 mg/Litre is found to cause fluorosis, though 1 mg/ lit is officially permissible…“where no other source is available, they are allowing 1.5 mg/Lit.”

People in villages with Fluoride above 0.5 mg/Lit are suffering from joint and other body pains, due to skeletal and non-skeletal (neuro-muscular) fluorosis. They take pain tablets (NSAIDs) regularly for months and years and that, among other things,  causes CKD (chronic kidney disease), according to Dr. M. Bapuji, an expert on the subject. He is a senior scientist who had worked in CSIR, and is the Scientific advisor, to FMRRC, a fluorosis Research group.

For more on the subject, see articles in countercurrents.org including : Socio-Political and Economic Aspects Of Fluorosis

https://countercurrents.org/2017/04/socio-political-and-economic-aspects-of-fluorosis/

Villages near Anakapalli are known to have Fluorosis and CKD also. For instance, Mondipalem village in Anakapalli comprising about 90 households has lost about 40 earning males in the last 16 to 20 years. And all of them died of CKD, according to a report in The Hindu, November 26, 2019. It also reported:

The series of deaths started about 18 years ago and the age profile of the deceased varies from early 20s to mid 40s. “There is at least one death or one person suffering from CKD in every family,” said Y. Muslinaidu, a resident, who is now on dialysis.

“A person surviving beyond the age of 60 years is a rarity in our village,” said T. Satyavati, who lost her husband, T. Nageswara Rao, a few years ago due to the same reason. “But I am now worried about the health of my two sons who work in a quarry,” she said.

“Most of us have small agricultural land, but that is not sufficient for a living and the men have to work in quarries for sustenance, as that is the economy model we have, and we are averse to the idea of shifting from our ancestral village,” she said.

There are about seven major stone quarries in the vicinity and at least three crushing units surrounding the village. A fourth one is coming up barely 500 meters from the last house in the village.

“As if CKD was not sufficient for our woes, now we have a crushing unit coming up in the vicinity. Apart from kidney problem, many of us are also suffering from lung and respiratory diseases. We have represented this to the District Collector and are awaiting response,” Mr. Muslinaidu said.

“We have conducted at least three health camps in the recent past and the serum creatinine and blood urea levels were found to be alarming in a number of people. At least 19 persons are now on dialysis. But we are unable to diagnose the root cause,” said Ramesh Naidu, the doctor at the nearest Primary Health Centre. “They work in adverse condition in the quarries and crushing units, where apart from pollution the average temperature is 45-plus Celsius.”

thehindu.com, reported later on December 31, 2019:

“There is a widespread fear that young men in Mondipalem do not survive for long. As a result of this infamous reputation, our youths are not getting brides,” said Sanyasi Rao, of the village.

“Our girls are getting good matches, but our boys are being rejected,” said Y. Eswaramma, who lost both her husband and her son about two years ago to CKD. “Both my daughter-in-law and I are widows,” she said. (Girls go out to other villages, after marriage.)

The authorities are unable to, rather did not care to, ascertain the real or main reason behind the spread of the disease. Formally, officials do not link it with quarries. Nor they found a definite reason. Poverty and malnutrition are known to be contributing factors to Fluorosis, and CKD, says FMRRC.

The TDP govt. instead of identifying and solving the problem of CKD in AP – Uddanam and Kanigiri had hitlines with thousands of deaths due to CKD – promoted dialysis centres, a source of businesses who sell related equipment and medicines, and to private hospitals.

The present ruling party made several promises to find out a complete solution to this problem before elections.  It promised an allowance for CKD patients undergoing dialysis.   However, there could not be seen real progress in tackling the problem.

“The Mondipalem issue has come to our notice and the State Government is giving Rs 10,000 per month to every person undergoing dialysis. But it needs a detailed scientific probe,” said renowned nephrologist and former Vice-Chancellor of NTR University of Health Sciences T. Ravi Raju.

Thus the sufferings of the quarry crusher workers in this story  who are part of the people of these villages can be imagined.

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It is high time for the organised workers to come out of economism and to  strive for broader unity of working class and people:

This article began with a reference to the  ongoing  agitation against privatisation of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant,  with a view to expose the deceptive nature of the ruling class parties.  But it must also be understood that it is a  responsibility of, and necessity for,  the organised workers to extend all their active support to the struggles of un-organised workers and  to various people’s movements for democratic rights and against    exploitation and oppression.

Thousands of “organised” workers are working in this steel plant being led by various central trade unions like INTUC, BMS, AITUC and CITU. Similarly there are several unions of organised workers working in Port, RTC and other industries led by these organizations in Visakhapatnam. For a long time, these  “organised”  workers, and their unions, not only in Visakhapatnam but also  through out the country, remain mired in neck deep economism ( that too of Indian variety) and isolationism and have neglected the responsibility of extending their active support to lakhs of unorganized workers and other poor people  who are   subjected to worst exploitation and oppression and the responsibility of taking up proper and effective political struggles against the dependent, autocratic and repressive policies of the governments.

That is why the employers and the governments are   able to crush the struggles of many unorganised workers like the quarry crushers workers in this story, denying minimum statutory rights.

That is why the Modi government is able to reform 29 labour laws into 4 labour codes further  curbing rights of both organized and unorganised workers in favour of capitalists.

That is why the present and previous Central Governments are able to sell away the PSUs, and other people’s assets, worth lakhs of crores of rupees, at throw away prices to the foreign and domestic big corporates. Now,  the   Visakhapatnam Steel Plant is facing the same problem.

The unions  of employees of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant are earnestly  right in opposing the decisions of this sale of the plant by  the government and everyone should support their struggle in the interest of people.

But, it should be remembered that the present support and participation of political parties of the ruling classes are  quite deceptive and temporary and the employees of the Steel Plant should make all efforts to mobilise the real support of workers, people and democratic forces, which alone would guarantee the success of their movement, so that the ruling class parties would not be allowed to hijack  and betray the movement.

Let us hope that the unions of organised workers like those of Steel Plant would recognise the necessity of joining hands with those crores of unorganised workers, and crores of peasants and other rural poor,  for successfully defeating the anti-worker and anti-people policies of the ruling classes and governments by way of proper and protracted struggles.

The slogan of worker-peasant unity has been kept in cold storage by trade union bureaucrats, including those of the Left parties.  It is high time to strive to bring it into implementation.

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Ch.S.N.Murthy is a Trade Union Leader, General Secretary of Federation of Independent Trade Unions, FITU from Andhra Pradesh. He is also the Honorary President  of the union of Quarry crushers Motor workers mentioned in the above article. He is a functionary of UCCRI-ML founded by veteran communist revolutionaries D.V.Rao and T.Nagireddy.  He can be reached at:  snmurthyfitu@gmail.com.

He contributed articles to countercurrents.org, including

New  “Code on Industrial Relations, 2020”:  United Struggles-the  only  Way for Working-Class  to Exercise and Protect its Right

https://countercurrents.org/2020/11/new-code-on-industrial-relations-2020-united-struggles-the-only-way-for-working-class-to-exercise-and-protect-its-right/


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One Comment

  1. Satya Vara Prasad Arundhati says:

    Usually it is taught in medical colleges that diabetic nephropathy is the leading cause of CKD in our country.In my opinion this often repeated axiom is born out of a parrot like repitition of western experience. We have never investigated the role of pollutants such as arsenic, fluoride and other substances.Yes labour commissioners,politicians ,judges and police are biased.No doubt.But so are medical doctors.