Strengthening the workers' movement against the anti-worker policies of the central government, the trade unions have given a call for a Jail Bharo Andolan (court arrest movement) end of this month. In a Delhi level joint trade union convention held at AITUC Bhawan in New Delhi on Saturday, the trade unions, extending their complete support to the Scheme workers’ strike, said that the massive court arrests would take place on January 30 at Parliament Street.
On January 17, 2018, workers employed under various government schemes - Anganwadi, mini-Anganwadis, Integrated Child Development Services Scheme, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, National Health Mission, National Rural Livelihoods Mission, National Child Labour Project, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Small Savings Schemes- will go on a nationwide strike.
“The jail bharo will be organised at district levels to ensure maximum participation of workers and will follow the scheme workers strike”, said Tapan Sen, national secretary of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). “Across the country, more such protests and strikes will be organised before the indefinite general strike as decided by the central committee of joint trade unions.”
Over fifty lakh scheme workers will be participating in this all India strike on January 17 called by 10 central trade unions. The main demands of workers are:
1. Recognising them as workers and giving them corresponding rights.
2. Coverage of EPF and ESI to scheme workers as social security including monthly pension not less than Rs 3,000.
3. Minimum wages not less than Rs 18,000 per month.
4. No privatisation of schemes.
“Scheme workers like ASHA and midday meal helpers are the backbone of the entire system, and are crucial in taking forwards these scheme aimed at improving health and education parameters, but they are paid, in many places, less than 1,500 rupees per month. This is a gross injustice”, said Shweta Raj of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU). “ Our demand is a minimum wage of 18,000 rupees per month”.
Narayan Singh of Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) said that the three-day Mahapadav of workers has shaken the base of Modi government. Last month in December, lakhs of workers came to Delhi to participate in the Mahapadav and demanded that immediate attention be paid to the wage increase, price control, inviting of foreign capital, destroying protective labour laws, welfare cuts and a stop to govt. policies of privatization. They also wanted the government to put an end to the labour contracting system, strengthen the public distribution system, and curb job losses.
Tapan Sen speaking about the Mahapadav said that “even after complete media blackout by the mainstream channels, the message of the mahapadav went across the country. There is huge enthusiasm among the workers to take forward the struggle”
Apart from CITU, AICCTU, AITUC and HMS, other trade unions that participated in the Delhi level joint convention were AIUTUC, TUCC, INTUC, SEWA, UTUC, LPF and MEC.