A massive mahapanchayat was staged on April 26th at Udham Singh Nagar in Parle Chowk Sidkul ,Patangar in Uttarakhand .Organized jointly by Interarch workers org, Shramik Sanyukt Morcha (joint platform of workers organizations in the uttrakhand terai industrial areas), & SKM Samyukt Kisan Morcha. Other than workers and Trade Unions, leadership & mobilization from farmer’s movement were present. Workers of Interarch had been on a dharna for 254days against terminations, and closure. The protest form of Mahapanchayat aimed to build ‘mazdoor kisan ekta zindabad’, unity & solidarity of workers and peasants. With focus on issues of contractualization, closure, unemployment, workers rights, privatization, state repression & so on – i.e. working class issues which have taken social dimension, or generalized precarious existence of toilers & need of building united resistance. On the day preceding the mahapanchayat the company owners had gone to HC to stop the Mahapanchayat saying this will create a ‘shaheen bagh kind of anarchic situation’ and unrest, but HC had refused to give stay order.
Over a thousand workers and peasants assembled raising the slogan of long live the workers and peasants The rally included workers, peasants, women students and children. An atmosphere of a festival of the masses was created, with spirit of resistance brimming at a crescendo.
Demands were raised for awarding bonus, proper payment of overtime, enforcing minimum salary of Rs. 25000 to the workers, equal pay for equal work, scrapping black laws, abolishing contract labour, comply to demand of 20 day agitation of Korola lighting workers for proper work conditions. . It was demanded that Bhagwati Micromex,Lucas TVS,workers problems should be properly redressed.
Subash, the leader of workers from Gorakhpur stated that this conference aimed to confront anti-labour practices. It was demanded that Bhagwati Micromex,Lucas TVS,workers problems should be properly redressed. He asserted that peasants should also form their unity front, in which workers should take up major responsibility.
Ajit from Gurgaon of Belsonic Union spoke about how right of 8 hour day and permanency was slowly being stolen away. Four labour codes would virtually strip the workers of all their rights.
Santosh of Mazdoor Patrika stated that the mahapanchyat was a challenge to communal fascism.
Kailash of Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra spoke about how workers had to wage a sustained battle to win their rights, with the crisis of working class has reached a crescendo and that this mahapanchayat was major test or experiment for the working class.
Mukul of Workers welfare centre spoke about the unity of the government with the factory owners is a thorn in the flseh for the working class. He illustrated how Micromax workers after issue by high court were denied reinstatement and repressed the workers of Interarc.
Farmer’s leader Rakesh Tikait stated that price rise was breaking the back o workers, In his view the govt took no initiative in curbing price rise and are totally pathetic to the needs of the poor.Inspite of a255 day agitation, the rulers have paid a deaf ear.
Dharampal spoke about how this struggle was against the corporates and workers had to wage a life and death struggle to s save their future.
Gurnam Singh Chudni stated that the Modi govt promote inequality, and it was not only an issue of the workers, but that of the farmers and all other opressed classes.
Tejinder Singh Verke stated that today the rulers used religion to divert people from problems of food and shelter, which were highlighted during the elections. In his view the workers would have to guard against this.
A resolution was passed to withdraw all false charges on workers leaders and for release of all farmer leaders. It was planned to hold a worker-peasant satyagraha or padyatra in memory of Shaheed Rajguru at the collectorate,raising the workers demands. If the demands were not yielded by May 23rd it was resolved to hold a march on the birthday of Kartar Singh Sarabhai on May 24th at the collectorate and stage a dharna .
The Conference promoted the crystallization of the unity of the workers with peasants and other oppressed sections to combat the anti-people economic policies and the nefarious divide and rule designs of Hindutva fascism. A platform was paved for the working class to guide the peasantry, which is an integral part of a revolutionary democratic movement. It was successful in forging link of common ground of the workers and peasants,
The event was successfully held inspite of attempts by the police to thwart it by preventing tents from being erected in the night .The Sidkul entrepreneur welfare society obtained an injunction from the highcourt to sabotage the mahapanchayat from Sidkul Pantanagar.However the daunting courage of the participants won the day .for them to overcome their adversaries.
Ironically 16 workers of Interarc were arrested on April 27th in at Radrupur.in Rampuri police station. .However the workers families with daunting courage staged a protest and pledged to block the highway if the workers leaders were not released. They stated that the parliamentary system only safeguarded the interests of the propertied and raised slogans condemning the police and the ruling party.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist from Mumbai who has toured and reported democratic events and struggles in Punjab and other parts of India. Been in touch with farmer and Workers leaders.