On August 28, a Workers Convention of the North Indian region held by Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA) against the 4 new Labour Codes, anti-worker policies and privatization. The Convention, organized at Rajendra Bhawan in Delhi on 28th Aug i.e. the 6th foundation anniversary of MASA, witnessed the participation of delegates from Delhi, NCR (Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida, Meerut etc.), Punjab, Haryana, UP, Uttarakhand, and Rajasthan. It touched every sphere into which the backbone of the working class welfare and movement was being broken apart. Positive that such broad range of forces participated from the democratic evolutionary ranks. Just what the doctor ordered with the working class placed in the gravest situation since 1947, being strangulated by neo-liberalism of the BJP.
It took place only two days after the conclusion of the National Labour Conference of Central and States’ Labour Ministers in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, held projecting programme to expedite the implementation of the pro-corporate Labour Codes across the country.
The Convention raised the demands of – repeal of Labour Codes brought by revoking the 44 labour laws won by workers the sweat of workers struggles, labour reforms promoting workers’ welfare ; checking privatization and sale of public sector industries-assets nurtured by blood and sweat of the masses; providing permanent employment by scrapping contractualization of labour , NEEM trainee scheme, Fixed-Term Employment etc.; daily minimum wage of ₹1000; unconditional right to form union, strike and protest for all categories of workers, among others. The Convention opposed the repression unleashed on trade union activists and workers protesting in Tirupati during the Labour Conference and passed a resolution condemning all forms of repression on working class and democratic voices along with Modi Government’s merciless strategy to thrust the Labour Codes on the working class, to victimise them.
Representatives of MASA constituents and fraternal organisations addressed issues like – ascendancy of attacks on workers’ rights and penetration of neoliberal reforms like the Labour Codes, all being implemented by shedding hatred and fear in the name of religion, caste, nationalism etc. They called for leaving no stones unturned in preparing for the 13th Nov Rashtrapati Bhawan March and consolidating the labour movement to extinguish ritualism (of 1 or 2 day annual strikes) and steering it it towards a path of militant struggle of the working class.
It is positive that in the ongoing campaign leading up to 13th Nov Mazdoor Aakrosh Rally, MASA staged successful regional conventions in East and South India, in Kolkata on 2nd July and Hyderabad on 31st July respectively. The speakers from MASA North India Coordination were: Kheemanand (IMK), Uday Jha (TUCI), Siddhant (IFTUS), OP Sinha (AIWC), Gaurav (GMUB), Mohit (MSS), Surinder (IMKP), Pal Singh (JSMH), and Amit (MSK). Speakers from other regional coordinations of MASA also addressed the gathering viz. SV Rao (IFTU), Sushma (KSS), Amitava Bhattacharya (SWCC), Somendu Ganguly (LJMUSS). Rajwinder (THKU) also addressed the Convention as an invitee organisation. Comrade Somnath, Vikram and Mukul jointly conducted the Convention.
Cultural teams of MSS, IMK, IFTUS, JSMH and MSK presented revolutionary songs and working-class hymns reverberated the hall sprinkling it with vibrations of a spark igniting. At the conclusion, comrade Mukul on behalf of MASA presented the draft resolution and the six main demands for the 13th Nov Rally. The Resolution was passed with consensus and the Convention was successfully concluded with powerful slogans expressing relentless spirit to make 13th Nov a grand success.
MASA MAIN CENTRAL DEMANDS:
- Immediately repeal 4 anti-worker labour codes! Reform labour laws in the interest of workers!
- Stop all means of privatization of PSUs and sectors like bank, insurance, coal, gas-oil, transport, defense, health, education etc!
- Ensure unconditional fundamental and democratic right to unionize ,strike and organize protests! Declare lay off, closure, retrenchment illegal!
- Abolish contract system, NEEM trainee scheme, and all forms of fixed-term employment – Guarantee permanent job till 60 years along with pension, maternity leaves and all other social security and occupational safety norms! Recognize gig-platform workers, scheme workers (Asha-Anganwadi-Mid day meal etc), IT-ITES workers, domestic workers as ‘workman’ ensuring all rights!
- Declare Rs. 1,000 daily minimum wage (Rs. 26,000/month) for all workers across the country! Provide ₹15,000/month as subsistence allowance to all unemployed!
- Ensure job security for the entire year for all rural workers! Ensure universal PDS and pucca housing-water-healthcare-school-crèche near the workplace for all workers, including migrant and rural workers!
Perhaps what was excluded was projecting an alternative model for the welfare of the working class It is important that the workers too support the demands of the peasantry, with a link forged between their struggles. Economism must be fought tooth and nail, with emphasis placed on instilling political consciousness or mass political education amongst the working class and not mere sloganeering. A Working class resistance centre must be constructed to confront the Hindutva fascist wave. Steps should be taken to devise new forms of organising workers with vast transformation in forms of production and strata of working class, who are divided as never before. The November March planned in Rashtrapati Bhavan should be more a qualitative than a quantitative success, with political consciousness given greater emphasis than mere numbers.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who covers mass movements around India