The workers and peasants of Tamil Nadu are all set to hit the roads tomorrow (November 26) as part of the general strike. The strike called by the central trade unions will be followed by farmers’ protests led by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) on the next day i.e. November 27. The workers, farmers, women, youth and student organisations will hit the roads in more than 650 centres across the state.
The employees and workers of central and state public sector undertakings, banking, insurance, ports, BSNL, electricity generation among others are joining the strike against the anti-worker, anti farmer policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Union government.
The focus of the protest is on the withdrawal of new labour laws and farm laws by the BJP government. The laws are accused of being pro-corporate, compromising on the long fought rights of the workers and the farmers.
Despite the threat of the severe cyclone Nivar bringing gusty winds and severe rains in the delta and northern districts of the state, the trade unions are confident of wider participation of workers.
DROP LABOUR LAW CODIFICATION
The Union government codified the labour laws into four codes last year. Among others, the Code on Wages, 2019, will lead to the repeal of The Payment of Wages Act, 1936, The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
G Sukumaran, general secretary of CITU, Tamil Nadu state committee said, “The Union government is imposing new acts and laws under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most important issue is the codification of 29 labour laws into four codes, which will snatch away all the hard fought rights of the workers and will aid the corporates in suppressing the voice of the workers. The move to codify the labour laws must be dropped.”
The codification could lead to abolishing of permanent jobs, job security, minimum wages and encourage the private corporates to exploit the workers.
ENSURE CASH RELIEF FOR FAMILIES
The trade unions have been demanding cash relief for the families of workers affected by the pandemic. The left parties and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) have raised the demand for cash relief of Rs 7,500 to each non-income tax paying families and free food grains.
“The sudden lockdown left many workers in the lurch, the mill workers, agricultural labourers, daily wage workers, and street vendors lost their income. The government should ensure they are paid cash relief, which is the only way to improve the rural economy,” Sukumaran added.
Also read: Nov 26 Strike: ‘It is a Question of Our Existence,’ Say Workers in Delhi-NCR
The trade union members have been meeting the people across the state and appraising them of the dire consequences of the recent laws enacted by the Union government. The workers have held a number of gate meetings (at the entrance of factories) and preparatory meetings under the central unions to make the strike massive success.
STOP PRIVATISATION OF PSUS
Another dangerous move being advocated and implemented by the Union government is the privatisation of PSUs. The PSUs, often treated as cash cows by the Union government, which are responsible for carrying out people centric measures are facing the threat of being privatised.
“The Union government is more keen on privatising the PSUs, considered as the backbone of the nation. The privatisation model has failed in most of the country and BJP is trying to impose the failed model. This move should be defeated at any cost for the welfare of the nation and the general public,” Sukumaran added.
Also read: Prices of Commodities Skyrocket, TN Govt Announces 50% Cut in Diwali Bonus of PSU Workers
The workers of the central PSUs have resolved to make the strike a total success, with the moves of the BJP government in dismantling the organisations have come as a shocker to all. The employees of HAL, BHEL, BEL, BEML will take part in the one day strike.
The BSNL workers are joining the strike demanding the permission to launch 4G services, which has been denied for long for the sake of the benefit of private players, particularly the Reliance operated Jio. Most of the bank employees and officers associations will also join the strike against the merger of banks and privatisation moves.
BOTH ORGANISED AND UNORGANISED WORKERS TO STRIKE WORK
The CITU and other central trade unions have been highlighting the plight of the workers of the unorganised sectors, who lost their jobs and income due to the ill-planned lockdown.
While the electricity workers are opposing the moves of privatisation of generation and distribution, the transport workers in all transport corporations of eight trade unions will also participate in the strike.
The anganwadi workers, categorised as scheme workers, are insisting on their long pending demand of making them government employees with job security and fair wages. The mineral workers, employees of cooperative department, revenue and auto rickshaw drivers are also set to join the strike.
The Tamil Nadu Government Employees Association has also announced their participation in the strike. However, the chief secretary of the state has directed all the employees to refrain from strike and instructed the head of departments not to sanction leaves on the particular day as well.
FARMERS, AGRICULTURAL LABOURERS TO HOLD PROTEST
The farmers across the country have been raising their voices against the three farm laws – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act – since they were introduced earlier this year.
The bills are aimed to promote the national and multinational corporations into agriculture, they allege.
Giving details about their programs for the strike, D Raveendran, vice president of the Tamil Nadu unit of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) told NewsClick, “The AIKSCC, the umbrella organisation of 252 kisan organisations will support the workers’ strike on November 26 and participate in the road roko programs in the state. The farmers will also take part in the ‘Delhi Chalo’ program announced by the AIKSCC on November 27. The coordination committee demands the withdrawal of the codification of labour laws and the three farm laws pushed through by the BJP government.”
The agricultural workers have also announced their participation in the protests on November 26 demanding the increase in number of working days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) to 200 days.
“The farm laws are a huge threat to the traditional farmers and will encourage the private giants to encroach the farm sector. Contract farming is another threat, forcing the farmers to rely on the corporates to sell their produce. Such a move will lead to hoarding and severe price rise,” added Sukumaran, commenting that their joint fight will continue until their demands are met.
Also read: Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Groups, Opposition Parties Join Hands for Massive Protests against Farm Bills