On May Day the Dehli state Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union stormed into the Jantar Mantar. Other Unions that joined the protest were the Karaval Nagar Mazdoor Union, and Delhi Metro Rail Worker Union. Overall around 1000 workers participated. Recently the Anganwadi and other workers were terminated from their work.
A police patrol was stationed to obstruct the rally at Mandi House. No explanation was given by the police of why they prevented the demonstrators from proceeding further. The police pushed the workers to Jantar Mantar. Infuriated the workers shouted slogans.They placed their demands placing a condition that if their demands were not met they would come out on the streets ,defying any attempts of the administrator to obstruct it.
President of the Union Shivani spoke in the rally how the rulers showed scant concern for the day to day needs of the workers, being unable to provide them an adequate living wage or housing. She dwelled on how the corporates had a total monopoly and patronage of the ruling party and how laws were being amended to strangulate the working class The Union leaders narrated how the centre was reducing the working class to shackles by passing 44 laws making it completely subservient to the corporates by extending working hours without awarding any compensation, and giving owners the maximum power to retrench workers.
They demanded an 8 hour work day and related the demand to awarding an adequate living wage, proper living conditions and work conditions. The virtual stripping of all rights of workers to protest was highlighted and how the rulers were intensifying their efforts to alienate the working class. The anti-worker aspect of laws passed was revealed and the strategy of how the rulers were breaking working class unity and robbing them of more and more rights, day by day. The arrest of Leaders of Workers was condemned and demand placed for their unconditional release. In the view o the speakers the Arvind Kejriwal led govt. did not comply to it’s promise of increasing wages of workers .
It was most praiseworthy the bold manner the women activists spoke about the ruthless exploitation they faced at the hands of the rulers and with great conviction expressed animosity to the police force for blocking their protest against unjust termination of workers.
They reflected the most commendable work the Delhi Anganwadi and helpers Union did in recent times, in delivering political education at the very grassroots level. Most impressive protests were launched on April 18th, January 31st to March 14th and last September. which earned the wrath of the rulers .A series of agitations were organised embarrassing the administration. One must complement the Bigul Mazdor Dasta for the political consciousness it instilled within the workforce, particularly the youth cadre..Most intensive preparatory work was undertaken by the Union activists in basti and factory areas, touching upon issues like price rise and danger of Hindu fascism.
The national Bulletin (TNB) spoke to the gathered protestors who were critical of Arvind Kejriwal saying, “He heralded himself as a brother, and now, has forced us, whom he called sisters, on the roads. What do we do if not indulge in protests? They won’t even let us take rallies, The Police are nothing but a mere dolls of the Government. But we won’t stop fighting, till they listen and fulfill all our demands.” The protestors included workers from Bawana, Delhi, and other nearby areas who sought a stable occupation, minimum wages, and decent working conditions.
Some weeks ago the Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union members demonstrated and surrounded the Women and Child Development (WCD) Department office in Delhi on April 18 demanding the release of pending honorarium and on time payment. WCD officials met with workers’ representatives and assured payment of arrears within a week.
The anganwadi (childcare) workers also alleged that the central and state governments were dismissing workers for their involvement in their indefinite strike for higher pay which began on January 31. The workers ended that strike, which involved thousands of workers, on March 14, after the government imposed its anti-strike Essential Services Maintenance Act. Over 1,000 workers were terminated during the strike.
Demand was placed for awarding, PMKVI,,PMDVI and paying for phone bill.
There are about 10,700 anganwadi centres and 20,000 anganwadi workers and helpers in Delhi. The current monthly honorarium for anganwadi workers and helpers is 9,678 rupees ($US128) and 4,839 rupees respectively, apart from minor incentive payments for selected programmes. Strikers were demanding a monthly wage of 25,000 rupees ($US330) for anganwadi workers and 20,000 rupees for helpers.Perhaps the overall weakness of the programme was the lack of presence of the Organised Industrial work force.
Mumbai Programme of May Day
The Revolutionary Workers’ Party of India organized a series of cultural events between 27th April and 1st May in different areas of Mankhurd-Govandi, Mumbai to mark the 134th International Workers’ Day. The events started with a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, were followed by cultural programmes including performances of revolutionary songs and a play – Safdar Hashmi’s ‘Machine’ – in different areas of Mankhurd-Govandi and culminated with a rally on the 1st of May. Speeches made during the program emphasized the revolutionary history of May Day, the need to keep the legacy of the Haymarket martyrs alive by uniting under the banner of the workers’ party. People responded enthusiastically to the event, expressed interest in knowing more about the party and volunteering in its activities.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist from Mumbai who has toured and reported democratic events and struggles from all over India and been in touch with activists o Bigul Mazdoor Dasta activists.