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Bengal: Kolkata Braces for Law Violation Programme, Jail Bhoro on Feb 13

Unions criticise Central government's labour codes for exacerbating hardships for organised and unorganised workers.
Unions criticise central government's labour codes for exacerbating hardships for organised and unorganised workers.

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Kolkata: Rajiv Shyam, 45, is a marginal farmer hailing from the Galsi Area of Burdwan district in West Bengal. He owns eight Bighas of land where he cultivates paddy and potatoes, relying solely on agriculture for his livelihood.

His primary produce, an aromatic variety of paddy known as Gobindabhog rice, has recently faced a setback. The Central Government has imposed a 200% export duty, halting its export from the country and causing a crash in the local market price. He now struggles to fetch Rs 1600 for a 60 kg sack of Gobindabhog rice, compared to the previous price of Rs 2500 per sack. With the costs of fertilisers and diesel for watering the fields skyrocketing, many farmers across West Bengal are finding it increasingly difficult to turn a profit from paddy cultivation.

Rajib Shyam, an active member of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), is leading the campaign in the Galsi block to organise a Grameen Bandh on February 13, following the call from AIKS, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and various other mass organisations and central trade unions in the state. "We are struggling to afford the education of my two daughters. One of them is in college, and for the past two years, I've been relying on my savings to support my household," he told NewsClick. He highlighted the plight of fellow villagers who are forced to discontinue their children's education, with some becoming migrant labourers in southern states to support their families. "In such conditions, we cannot remain silent," he emphasised, expressing frustration with both the state government's corruption and the communal politics of the central government.

Dilip Das, a security worker with CITY Bank, is gearing up for a direct confrontation with the state and union governments on February 13. He is organising neighbourhood meetings of fellow security workers in Kolkata and preparing to participate in the Law Violation and Jail Bhoro Programme. "They may beat us and throw us in jail, but they can't silence us," he warned, cautioning the state government against using excessive force to disperse activists.

"Security workers are facing precarious conditions with impending pay cuts and layoffs, with many forced to work long hours," Das explained. He criticised the union government's labour codes for exacerbating hardships for both organised and unorganised workers. "We're not swayed by religious rhetoric; we demand bread, clothing, and shelter," he emphasised, noting the widespread participation expected in the law violation programs across the state.

Anadi Sahoo, convenor of the combined platform of central trade unions, federations, and farmers' organisations, warned of a flurry of activities on February 13. He described it as an ultimatum to the Modi government. Due to the examination schedule on February 16, farmers and workers in West Bengal have decided to observe the law violation program and Grameen Bandh on February 13 to vent their anger against the anti-worker, anti-farmer policies of the Modi government. Amla Halder of AIKS detailed the dire conditions faced by West Bengal farmers under the Modi government's policies, accusing the government of betraying the farming and agricultural labour communities. "Against this, we will launch an all-out Grameen Bandh in the state," he declared, underscoring the determination to bring attention to the plight of the state's common people.

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