A ten-day nationwide campaign launched by the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) to press for their 13-point charter culminated on Thursday with the central trade union observing “Demands Day” at multiple sites across the country.
The campaign that had begun on June 1 was aimed to bring to the fore the demands that address the “problems relating to health and livelihood which are being faced by the working people during the Corona(virus) period.”
Protest programmes were held keeping COVID-19 protocols in mind at labour colonies and work sites on Thursday. At the protests, slogans were raised against the way the Narendra Modi-led central government has handled the pandemic so far. The protesters also flayed the policy decisions taken by the Centre in the wake of the COVID-19 spread, which according to the union, “puts corporate profits above the precious lives of people.”
“The nationwide campaign was widely observed across the country. We had targeted to stage agitations and demonstrations up to the block-levels. Even after Thursday’s programme, protests will be staged at multiple places – mostly because they had to be delayed to the local pandemic situation,” Tapan Sen, general secretary, CITU told Newsclick on Thursday.
The central trade union is demanding cash assistance of Rs 7,500 for all non-income tax payers, along with free monthly 10kg of grains for next six months to all families in need of it – irrespective of whether they have a ration card or not.
Additionally, in a bid to restrict the spread of COVID-19 in the country, CITU is demanding free vaccine doses for all.
In what is being seen as a volte-face, Prime Minister Modi addressed the nation earlier on Monday and said that the COVID-19 vaccines would be free for all adults at government facilities from June 21. The Centre will procure 75% of vaccines and will give them to the state governments; the private sector is allowed to procure the remaining 25%.
“The Modi government was compelled to retreat ultimately because of the pressure from the people, state governments and opposition forces in the country. The new vaccination policy is a victory of the people’s resolve,” Sen claimed, adding that what is needed is to continue “putting pressure on the ruling government.”
Newsclick had earlier reported on the various protests staged across the country as part of CITU’s nationwide campaign. This included a statewide protest by construction workers and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) in Haryana, among others.
Anurag Saxena, general secretary, CITU – Delhi NCR, said that on Thursday demonstrations were staged at 40 to 50 spots – labour colonies and work sites – in the national capital. “There were programmes also held in Noida and Ghaziabad,” he told Newsclick.
Memorandums, addressed to PM Modi, that enlisted the union’s demands were submitted to deputy labour commissioners in different districts, Saxena said.