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In the course of the farmers’ movement the need for improving unity with workers has been emphasized several times. This was taken forward on April 29 in a  joint online meeting of Central Trade Unions and Sectoral Federations and Associatons with the front of farmers’ organizations coordinating their ongoing   movement called  Samyukta Kisan Morcha ( SKM). It was resolved here to take forward with unity the struggle of workers and peasants. The importance of unity in the present day difficult conditions of the country as well as the very harmful policies of the government was also emphasized.

The joint statement released after the meeting says it all—“  the joint workers-peasants  meet has stressed the need for the stronger bond of solidarity in struggles of the two productive forces in the country against the outright destructive policies of the government , which is acting to destroy agriculture as well as indigenous manufacturing capacity of the national economy through retrograde farm laws , mindless privatization drives covering all industries, services, natural resources, health and education sector. At the same time many conditions are being imposed on the working people through enactment of labor codes along with curbing democratic rights, freedom of expression, right to dissent in numerous ways”.

This statement is important as it presents not only an agreement of greater unity but in addition it also presents a broad agreement among these organizations regarding a very strong critique of the policies of the union government covering a very broad area. This also reflects the welcome fact that the organizations of workers and farmers are concerned not just regarding their own interests but are equally worried about the disturbing trends in overall policies, particularly economic policies, and they see their own issues as being closely related to this dangerous drift of overall  policy.

These commitments  based on a broader understanding of responsibilities should be widely welcomed and  unity based on such commitments and understanding is really needed today. This is particularly welcome at a time when the nation is observing May Day, although understandably much quietly this time in exceptionally difficult conditions of the pandemic .

The unity of farmers and artisans should of course include self-employed toiling people , artisans and crafts-persons. Neglected sections such as domestic workers and rickshaw pullers should not be ignored. An immediate important issue just now is to press for immediate relief to substantial sections of poor and vulnerable population unable to meet their basic food and other needs in times of new disruptions and restrictions.

Also the growing unity of farmers and workers should have space also for some broader concerns which are important but do not receive adequate or priority attention. Farmers need to give more attention to creation of ecologically protective and self-reliant farming systems. Worker unions should give more intention to health, safety and social security aspects .

In addition both worker and farmer organizations should give more importance to internal reform which will increase their strength and bring some immediate relief to farmer and worker households and communities. This internal reform can focus initially on ending all domestic violence and violence against women, as well as reducing significantly alcohol consumption and all substance abuse. Later it can include other aspects as well.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include Man Over Machine and When the Two Streams Met ( freedom movement).


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