Workers March in Delhi Against Anti-worker Labour Codes and Privatization

The air reverberated with revolutionary slogans and demands representing workers from the vast spectrum of industries and regions of the country as the ground was transformed into a sea of red flags.

New Delhi – Thousands of workers from every corner of the country raised their voices in unison at the Ramlila Grounds in New Delhi, as part of ‘Mazdoor Aakrosh Rally’ organized by Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA) on November 13th.

Among the main demands of the workers were :

  1. Workers demanded the withdrawal of the four new anti-worker labour codes passed by the Indian government.
  2. an end to the privatisation drive of public industries and assets.
  3. permanent and secure employment for all
  4. Rs. 26,000 as minimum monthly wage.
  5. a monthly unemployment allowance of Rs. 15,000
  6. declaration of lay-offs, closures and retrenchments as illegal.
  7. abolition of the contract system and various kinds of temporary employment
  8. recognition of domestic-gig-scheme workers under labour laws
  9. job security, housing, healthcare, child care for all migrant and rural workers and universal PDS.

Over five thousand workers, students and teachers from 18 states including Delhi NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Bengal, Assam, Himachal, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Gujarat participated in the demonstration.

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The march reflected the rising disquiet within the working class in India, being pushed to the wall with rising cost of living, stagnant and even decreasing wages and rising unemployment and social insecurity.

The workers were met with heavy police deployment and barricading despite having notified the administration months in advance of the program. The march pushed aside two rounds of barricading to block the main Jawaharlal Nehru Marg towards New Delhi railway station. A delegation submitted the memorandum containing the six central demands to the President’s office.

The rally concluded with a pledge to strengthen and extend the scope of the platform and build an uncompromising, militant and continuous working class struggle against the neoliberal policies of the government.

anganwadi workers
women working as anganwadi bhajan maths

The Rally was addressed by representatives from the sixteen constituent organisations of MASA, i.e.  All India Workers Council, Grameen Mazdoor Union (Bihar), Indian Council of Trade Unions (ICTU), Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), IFTU (Sarwahara), Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra, Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra Punjab, Jan Sangharsh Manch Haryana, Karnataka Shramika Shakthi, Lal Jhanda Mazdoor Union (Samanvay Samiti), Mazdoor Sahayata Samiti, Mazdoor Sahyog Kendra, New Democratic Labour Front-State Coordination Committee (NDLF SCC Tamilnadu), Socialist Workers Centre (Tamilnadu), Struggling Workers Coordination Centre (SWCC, West Bengal), Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI).

Cultural performances by teams from Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and West Bengal energised the rally with songs of struggle and transformation.

The air reverberated with revolutionary slogans and demands representing workers from the vast spectrum of industries and regions of the country in attendance at the march as the ground was transformed into a sea of red flags.

The protest was joined by organised private sector workers from automobile, engineering, textile, garment and food processing industries including the struggling terminated workers of Maruti Suzuki, the Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Union, Belsonnica Employees Union and contract workers from Sunbeam and Hitachi in Haryana; Daikin Air Conditioner Workers’ Union and Daido Mazdoor Union from Neemrana, Rajasthan; Bhagwati Micromax, Nestle, Parle, Rocket Riddhi Siddhi, Karolia Lighting, Voltas, Intrark and other unions from Uttarakhand; unions from Hindi Motors, Kanoria Jute Mill, Bauria Cotton Mills and other units from West Bengal and Steel and Molding Workers Union (Punjab); Workers from public sector enterprises including BHEL (Uttarakhand), BSNL (WB), Eastern Coalfields Limited (WB), Singareni Collieries Company Limited (Telangana) and Indian Railways (Eastern UP);  Tea Plantation workers from Jakai, Nahorkotia, Gotonga, Naginijan, Jaipur, Samuguri, Hautley, Furkating and Missamara Tea Estates in Assam and Margaret’s Hope, Dhotrey, Baghrakote, Phulbari and Peshok Tea Gardens from Darjeeling joined the rally in significant numbers. Unions of rural workers and urban unorganized sectors such as Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union (Haryana), MGNREGA and Sarva Kamgar Union (Himachal Pradesh), Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha Mazdoor Karyakarta Samiti (Chhattisgarh), Nirman Mazdoor Sangharsh Union (Bihar), Rural Employees Union (Haryana) and others among MNREGA, Sanitation, Construction, Domestic work, Anganwadi, Mid-day meal, IT-ITES, gig workers, loading-unloading and private transport from different states lent immense strength to the march. The mobilisation witnessed a strong presence of women workers.

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Workers from Rural and agricultural areas

The program was the culmination of a four month long widespread agitational campaign on six central demands. The campaign was carried out both jointly and independently by the constituent organizations of MASA at factory gates, labour lines, fields, mines and industrial areas across the country.

Three regional conventions were held in Kolkata, Hyderabad and Delhi in the build up to the march.

The march reflected the rising disquiet within the working class in India, being pushed to the wall with rising cost of living, stagnant and even decreasing wages and rising unemployment and social insecurity.

Slogans for working class unity across lines of communal divisions, regional and sectoral differences were also raised. Such a wide ranging section of the country’s working class coming together as an organised force sent an important message to the central and state governments.

The sense of unity and camaraderie in the march is sure to bring fresh energy among all who participated in the demonstration, to organise the working class and fight back the unbridled capitalist exploitation ongoing in the country and the world today!

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May 2024
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