Groundxero | 9th February, 2024
Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA), a coordination platform of 17 workers organisations/unions in India, observed “Mazdoor Pratirodh Divas/Workers’ Resistance Day” on 8th February, 2024, all over the country against the anti-worker policies and to press for the just demands of the working masses in the country.
Protest demonstrations, rallies and agitational programs were held in different state capitals like Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Patna, Jaipur, Lucknow etc, in different industrial belts like Gurgaon-Manesar, Rudrapur-Haridwar, Godavari basin coal-belt etc and in different district headquarters simultaneously.
MASA in a press statement stated that the working masses in the country are facing massive attacks by the Modi government and various state governments at the behest of Indian and foreign big capitals in the form of new anti-worker labour codes, massive privatization drive, unemployment, inflation, attacks on union-rights and other anti-worker policies and actions. MASA pointed out how the fascist forces like RSS-BJP are using religion as a tool for political gains and sowing seeds of hatred and division among the common people with the ulterior motive of diverting the toiling mass from struggles against capitalist-imperialist exploitation and attacks on their livelihoods. “While observing “Mazdoor Pratirodh Divas/Workers’ resistance Day”, the working masses–urban, industrial, and rural–took to the streets all over the country against the attacks on the working people by domestic and foreign capitalists and fascist forces and for a dignified life and real democracy”, added the statement by MASA.
The central demands raised during the protest programs were –
- Four new labour codes should be withdrawn! Labour laws should be reformed in the interest of workers and protection of labour laws should be ensured for all workers.
- Privatization should be stopped! Core sectors and services should be nationalized!
- Provision of employment, secure and permanent income should be made for all! Scheme workers (ASHA, Anganwadi, Bhojan Mata etc.), domestic workers, IT workers, gig workers should be given the status of ‘workers’ and given protection under the labour laws and be given respectable wages. Rural workers should have year-round work, social security, and respectable wages!
- Ensure the right to unionize and organize and the right to strike and protest!
- Minimum wage of Rs 26 thousand per month should be implemented! Ensure respectful living wages for all!
- Politics of religious-caste-gender discrimination and religious hatred should be stopped! Considering religion as a personal matter, its political display should be stopped!
Along with these core demands, various regional level demands for workers were also raised.
Overview of some of the protest programs
In Delhi, a protest demonstration was organized in Jantar Mantar where factory workers, domestic workers, sanitation workers, gig workers and workers from different unorganized sectors participated. The demonstration was organized by MASA constituents in Delhi – IMK, MSK, IFTU(S), GMU, TUCI, MSS – and joined by other fraternal organizations like MEC, AIFTU (New), SKM, Lokpaksh etc.
In Haryana, protest demonstrations were organized in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Gohana and Karnal. In Gurgaon, workers’ rally was taken out from Rajiv Chowk to the DC office and a demonstration was held there. Workers and union leaders from Maruti Suzuki Manesar and Gurgaon plant, Bellsonica, Daikin, MMTC, IGLO etc, workers from Udyog Vihar garment sector, and unorganized workers from different slums of Gurgaon participated in the program. In Faridabad, industrial workers held a demonstration at the DC office at sector 12, Faridabad. In Jind, Kaithal, Karnal, Gohana and Krukshetra, MNREGA workers, construction workers, Anganwadi-mid day meal-ASHA workers and rural agricultural workers participated in various agitational protests. MASA constituents in Haryana – Jan Sangharsh Manch Haryana, IMK, MSK took active part in organizing protest demonstrations.
In Uttarakhand, protest programs were held in Rudrapur, Haridwar, Dehradun and Kashipur. In Rudrapur, Sanyukt Shramik Morcha and industrial workers from various factories like Interarch, Bhagwati Micromax, Nestle, Mahindra, Adwik, Bajaj Motors, PDPL, Mantri Metal, Neel Metal, CII India, Tata Autocom, Rocket Riddhi Siddhi, LGB, Karolia Lighting, Lucas TVS etc in SIDCUL industrial area took part in workers rally and protest demonstration in front of the labour department in Rudrapur city. In Haridwar SIDCUL area, a protest demonstration was held at the BHEL factory gate by the BHEL Mazdoor Trade Union and other factory workers. Protests were held in the state capital Dehradun and Kashipur industrial area. MASA constituents IMK, MSK and MSS took active roles in organizing protest programs in Uttarakhand.
In Uttar Pradesh, protest demonstrations were organized in state capital Lucknow and in Balia, Sultanpur, Bareilly, Shamli and Meerut. In Sultanpur and Balia in Eastern UP, rural and unorganized workers from various sectors participated. In Bareilly, Shamli and Meerut in Western UP, urorganized workers from various sectors from urban and rural areas joined protest demonstrations. MASA constituents IMK, MSS, LJMU took active roles in organizing protest programs in Uttar Pradesh.
In Bihar, protest demonstrations were organized in state capital Patna and in Rohtas district. In Patna, construction workers, rural workers from other districts and other unorganized sector workers joined in large numbers at Buddha Smriti Park at Patna Junction and held a protest program. In Rohtas district, protest demonstrations were held where rural workers from MNREGA and other sectors actively took part. MASA constituents IFTU (Sarwahara), Grameen Mazdoor Union Bihar and fraternal organizations Bihar Nirman and Asangathit Shramik Union, AIFTU (New) in coordination with MASA took active roles in organizing protest programs in Bihar.
In West Bengal, due to Secondary examination, the program was pre-poned to 20th January, when a workers’ rally comprising of more than 1000 workers marched to governor’s house in Kolkata. Workers from coal, tea, jute, engineering, IT-ITES, BSNL and other public sectors, gig workers, domestic workers, transport workers, MNREGA workers and workers from various urban and rural areas joined the program. Today on 8th February, factory-level programs were held in different Hosiery factories in Kolkata. MASA constituents SWCC, Laal Jhanda Mazdoor Union, IFTU (Sarwahara), TUCI took active roles in organizing protest programs in West Bengal.
In Punjab, two programs were held in Ludhiana. One program was jointly organized at Chhatar Singh Park near Ludhiana bus stand by MASA constituent IMK-Punjab, Pragatishil Asangathit Nirman Mazdoor Union, Moulder and Steel Workers Union and Lok Ekta Sangathan. Another protest demonstration was organized at Samrala Chowk by Karkhana Mazdoor Union, Textile-Hosiery Kaamgar Union, Pendu Mazdoor Union (Mashal). Programs were held in Jagraon and Rampura where Pendu Mazdoor Union (Mashal) and Bhatta Mazdoor Union Rampura (Bhatinda) took initiative.
In Rajasthan, a protest demonstration was organized in Jhalana in state capital Jaipur, where sanitation workers, slum-based unorganized workers participated. MSK took an active role in organizing the protest.
Protest demonstrations were organized in Telengana state capital Hyderabad. In Andhra Pradesh, protest programs were organized in Vijayawada and Guntur. Coal industry workers from Godavari Basin Singareni coal belt, transport workers, small factory workers, unorganized sector workers from loading-unloading, sanitation and other sectors took part in protests. MASA constituent IFTU took an active role in organizing the protests.
In state capital Chennai in Tamil Nadu, MASA constituent NDLF (SCC) organized protests at different factory gates. In Karnataka, MASA constituent Karnataka Shramika Shakthi organized decentralized protests in different districts.
MASA said that developing a continuous, militant, and decisive struggle across the country against the Indian and foreign capitalist class and fascist forces is the need of the hour, and protest programs were a step towards that direction.