New Delhi: Workers, students and the youth came together on Monday to register their protest against the Centre’s policy decisions, which according to the protesters, are only leading to a “worsening of the situation of unemployment” in the country.
Held jointly under the aegis of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Students Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the public meeting at Jantar Mantar was the culmination of a month-long campaign across the national capital.
While many issues -- from the privatisation push of the Narendra Modi-led central government to implementation of labour codes -- were discussed on Monday, what struck a chord with almost everyone was the demand to “declare the Right to Work as a fundamental right”.
The loss of jobs has increased under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government due to its “disastrous policies”, said A R Sindhu of CITU, while addressing the crowd. She listed demonetisation, GST and the “improper implementation” of the COVID-induced lockdown as some of the examples.
“What’s more, this government has now announced a privatisation spree of the PSUs (Public Sector Units) that are otherwise known for generating employment,” Sindhu told NewsClick, adding that the demand for a “stable and respectable employment” is hence the “need of the hour.”
Similar sentiments were shared by Aman Saini, state secretary, DYFI-Delhi who lamented that the unemployment levels in Delhi were “more alarming”.
“The Centre is certainly the culprit in the current unemployment situation in the country. However, the (Arvind) Kejriwal government in Delhi has failed the youth as well. Even in the recent budget, instead of announcing a job scheme, the focus was shifted to hollow deshbhakti,” Saini said.
With a slow easing of lockdown measures, the unemployment rate in Delhi in the six months post-pandemic, rose to 28.5 in October-November 2020 compared with 11.1% in January-February, the Indian Express had reported earlier, quoting a Delhi government-commissioned survey.
He added that there is a need to enact an urban employment scheme on the lines of the current rural employment scheme also known as MGNREGA.
On Monday, the workers and students were also joined at Jantar Mantar by representatives of other unions such as that of IT employees and LIC employees among others. Songs were sung as part of the cultural programmes presented by Dastak and Jana Natya Manch.
The protesting groups pressed their 12-point demand charter, which included implementation of the Bhagat Singh Urban Employment Guarantee Act, that is meant to ensure 200 work days for all employable people at minimum wage rates.
A memorandum, highlighting these demands, was also submitted to Santosh Gangwar, Union Minister for Labour and Employment.
The protesting groups in their press statement on Monday claimed that “the campaign on employment will continue in the coming days as well.”