The five days long all India conference of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) began in Chennai on January 23 with the participation of more than 2,000 delegates from across the country. The conference is expected to chart out programmes for struggle against the increasing suppression of the working class in the recent years, especially under the current ruling regime. The protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) continue in the state with street corner meetings, rallies, demonstrations and signature campaigns. Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, the state government has announced the conduct of public exams for the students of class 5 and 8 from the current academic year. NewsClick presents a round up of the important happenings in Tamil Nadu.
CITU CONFERENCE UNDERWAY
The 16th national conference of the CITU began on January 23 in Chennai with more than 2,000 delegates representing over 60 lakh members and fraternal organisations. The conference will conclude on January 27 with a massive rally and public meeting to be addressed by leaders of the organisation. The conference paid tribute to the martyrs who had laid their lives in the struggle against the fascist and imperialist forces to claim the rights of the workers. Michael Makwayiba, president of World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) while addressing the conference accused the United States of capturing resources with cruel intentions and said, "The tactics of capitalism need to be resisted with united resistance and struggles of the working class. In the present scenario, a progressive society must prioritise the liberation of the working class, particularly women.”
Also read: Working Class Must Unite Against US and its War Games: Michael Makwayiba
CITU President Dr K Hemalata said, "The last three decades of neo-liberalism has adversely impacted the workers. The wages of workers are stagnant or in some cases, even declined in a few countries inspite of their productivity increasing consistently. While, the super-rich continue to amass wealth.” The conference passed unanimous resolutions against the implementation of CAA, NPR and NRC and demanded the union government to withdraw the restrictions on Jammu & Kashmir and restore democracy in the erstwhile state.
ANTI-CAA PROTESTS CONTINUE
The protests opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Population Register and National Register of Citizens continued across the state with wide participation from across various sections of the society. Hundreds of youths were detained in Chennai while taking out a rally against the acts. The rally was attended by members of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), Pothudamai Iyakkam and the youth wing of Dravidar Kazhagam. The protesters demanded the state government to pass a resolution in the Assembly rejecting the implementation of CAA, NPR and NRC in the state. Several cities including Coimbatore, Nagercoil, Dharmapuri, Madurai, Sivagangai, Puducherry, Tharangampadi and Periyakulam saw massive protests all through the week.
The meeting of opposition parties held on Friday, January 24, resolved to conduct a signature campaign demanding the withdrawal of CAA and repeal of NPR and NRC. The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) continues to hold signature campaigns in Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Nagapattinam and Dharmapuri.
Also read: Hundreds Detained in Chennai for Anti-CAA Rally
On Friday evening, hundreds of women assembled in Washermanpet in Chennai for an indefinite protest demanding the withdrawal of CAA, NRC and NPR. However, permission was denied by the police and the protesters were instructed to disburse by late night.
OUTRAGE AGAINST PUBLIC EXAMS
The state government in an unprecedented move announced the conduct of public exams for class 5 and 8 students from the present academic year. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)-led state government has been vehemently supporting and implementing the policies framed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government. The conduct of the public exams for classes other than high and higher secondary was proposed in the Draft National Educational Policy (DNEP). Even before the policy has been implemented. the AIADMK government is forcing the conduct of public exams for class 5 and 8 much to the dismay of the young children and their parents. Academicians, teachers and students organisations have strongly condemned the move of the Education Department, as such exams would put the young children under tremendous stress.
The Tamil Nadu Primary School Teachers’ Federation termed the conduct of public exams for the students of classes 5 and 8 as a bizarre step and unprecedented, as no country across the world has such exams students belonging to this age group. The opposition parties and other organisations have demanded the state government to withdraw the announcement of the conduct of exams with immediate effect.
FARMERS SUFFER CROP LOSS
The farmers of the state, particularly from the delta region, are facing loss of crops due to unseasonal rains. Farmers from Thanjavore and Tiruvarur districts suffered damage of paddy crops, which were ready for cultivation, in lands extending upto 1.5 lakh acres. Ammapet, Orathanad, Tanjore and Papanasam taluks suffered severe damage much to the dismay of the farmers waiting to harvest the yield. With the rain delaying the cultivation, the paddy will not yield the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the union government. The farmers had already been agitating against the low MSP fixed by the union government and the paltry incentive announced by the state government. BJP, which had promised to implement the MS Swaminathan report to ensure MSP, has been in denial of any such assurance since it came to power in 2014.
The farmers of Perambalur district in a meeting held by the district collector demanded the restoration of agricultural gold loans at lower interest rates from the nationalised banks. The farmers alleged the banks of denying agricultural loans reportedly from the instruction of the union government. The non-availability of such loans would imply more trouble for the farmers as they would have to rely on private lenders to move towards the next season.
SANITATION WORKERS DISMISSED
Twenty sanitation workers of Tiruchirapalli Corporation were dismissed from service for participating in the general strike held on January 8. Around 25 workers belonging to a self-help group participated in the strike held against the anti-worker policies of the BJP government. In a move to suppress further protests of the workers, the management of the corporation selectively dismissed 20 workers. In response to this, the workers led by CITU held a sit-in protest inside the corporation premises demanding the reinstatement of the workers.