Tamil Nadu witnessed a massive human chain opposing CAA-NRC-NPR on M K Gandhi’s Martyrdom Day with a reported participation of 40 lakh. The five-day long national conference of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) concluded in Chennai with a huge rally and public meeting of the workers from across the state against the anti-worker policies of the Modi government. The BSNL Employees Union (BSNLEU) and the Tamil Nadu Telecom Casual and Contract Workers Federation (TNTCCWF) held a demo in the chief general manager’s office demanding the implementation of revival package for BSNL and disbursal of pending wages. NewsClick brings a round up of the issues in Tamil Nadu this week.
MASSIVE PARTICIPATION IN ANTI-CAA HUMAN CHAIN
The state witnessed a massive human chain on January 30 opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register. The human chain was conducted by the Tamil Nadu Platform for People’s Unity (TNPPU) in all district headquarters and more than 200 cities and towns of the state. The TNPPU had called for the formation of a human chain. The organisation has been at the forefront of organising protests including a signature campaign opposing the draconian amendment in the citizenship act and the withdrawal of NPR and NRC. In Chennai, the human chain extended across the length and breadth of the city with massive participation.
The TNPPU lauded the state government of Kerala for initiating a legal battle and passing a resolution against the implementation of CAA, NRC and NPR. The Platform has demanded that the state government take cue from the four other states which have passed resolutions in their state Assemblies against this three-pronged attack by the BJP government at the Centre. In Chennai, the chain extended from Tiruvotriyur in the Northern part to Tambaram in the Southern end. Senior journalist N Ram, Justice (Rtd) Hariparanthaman and Communist Party of India (Marxist) State Secretary K Balakrishnan also took part in the chain in Chennai.
Also read: Human Chain Across Tamil Nadu Against CAA, NRC and NPR
The TNPPU claimed that the human chain was attended by around 40 lakh people across the state and called for a sustained struggle against the implementation of CAA, NPR, and NRC.
CITU CONFERENCE: MASSIVE WORKERS RALLY
The 16th national conference of CITU which began on January 23 concluded in Chennai with a massive workers’ rally and public meeting. The conference condemned the Narendra Modi government’s move on codification of labour laws – from 44 laws to just four and called upon the workers to escalate struggles throughout the country, combining it with the countrywide fight to protect the Constitution and the citizenship rights enshrined therein. The newly elected president of CITU, K Hemalata, accused the Modi government of waging a war against the working class of the country while General Secretary Tapan Sen called upon the workers to drive out the barbaric, divisive forces and teach a lesson to the government which is trying to sell the nation’s wealth.
Also read: Workers' Stand United Against CAA-NPR-NRC
The president of World Federation of Trade Unions called upon the people to unite as workers and elect a government which will ensure the rights of the working class. The conference also decided to push for the demands of the increasing number of working women in the country and announced a nationwide ‘jail bharo’ (fill the jails) on March 6 in connection with International Women's Day on March 8.
BSNL WORKERS’ DEMONSTRATION
The BSNLEU and TNTCCWF held a protest demanding the implementation of revival package for BSNL. The union government has been continuously supporting Reliance Jio by declining the upgradation facilities to the BSNL in a move to close down the public sector telecom company. In a move which was claimed to be part of reviving BSNL, 80,000 employees were forced to retire on January 31. The regular workers are yet to be paid the salary of December and January while that of contract and casual workers has been pending for almost one year. The sustained struggles of the employees have not yielded the result they desire.
The general secretary of BSNLEU, P Abhimanyu, alleged that the revival package is nothing but a move towards privatisation of BSNL. “It is very hard to believe that the government is trying to revive BSNL. By retrenching almost one lakh employees, the government is planning to increase the confidence of the private players. After repeated demands and representations, the government has done the 4G allocation free for BSNL but the technological upgradation is not possible since there are outstanding dues to the companies.”
The contract workers, who haven’t received salary for the past year, are facing the threat of losing their jobs since the management has decided to introduce wages based on the works and not on daily wage basis.
YOUTH DETAINED FOR PROTEST
The members of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) were detained for demanding the demolition of a caste wall in Kattumarakuttai, a dalit settlement in Salem district. The protesting youths accused the police and the revenue department of delaying the wall’s demolition citing rural local body elections, even though the area fall in the urban division. The wall has been built on a property handed over by an individual for public usage. The court directed removal of the wall in December 2019 in a case filed by DYFI in 2012. Even after a month of the judgement being pronounced, the revenue and the police department were declining to implement the order, DYFI leaders said.
The peace meeting scheduled on January 29 was also called off for unknown reasons leading to the protest the next day. The denial of the officials forced the DYFI members to resort to a road roko. The detained members refused to budge to the threats of police of selected remanding after which they were released late night.
The DYFI filed the case in 2012 after a member of the dominant caste built a wall across the place curtailing the movement of around 50 families belonging to the dalit community. The land was donated by an individual to the government for the purpose of a public road. But the construction of the wall encroaching the road was opposed ever since the work started. At present, the administration is delaying the implementation of the court orders.
Also watch: In the Name of God, How a Wall Segregates a Village Based on Caste