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UP: Joint Platform of Trade Unions to Hold 3-Day ‘Mahapadav’ in Lucknow Against Govt Policies

The protest, to be organised in Lucknow’s Eco Garden from November 26-28, is being backed by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha.
workers protest

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Lucknow: The Joint Platform of Trade Unions, a united forum of 10 central trade unions and several other federations, has given a call for a Mahapadav (to continue to stay at the location) at the iconic Eco Garden in Lucknow from November 26-28, to protest against government policies affecting workers, peasants, and people. 

The Joint Platform of central trade unions held a meeting in Lucknow to take stock of the preparations in various districts and sectors for the proposed three-day Mahapadav against "the anti-worker, anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-national policies" of the Central government, a statement said.

The call by the Joint Platform of Trade Unions was supported by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a joint platform of farmers' unions that spearheaded the protests against the Central farm laws. The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU, part of the Joint Platform of Trade Unions, also released a statement backing the call. 

The demands included scrapping the four labour codes, fixing a monthly minimum wage of Rs 26,000 for organised workers, replacing the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) with a new crop insurance and compensation scheme and exemption of GST on farm inputs such as fertilisers, seed and agri-equipment.

Prem Nath Rai, general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), speaking to NewsClick, said that the labour codes are against the interest of workers and have little to do with labour welfare. The government should not notify the implementation of the labour codes, he said and added that they should be scrapped.

The SKM and CITU hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party over the party's claim of doubling the farmers' income by 2022. They alleged that the farmers' income had come down during the NDA regime.

"The Modi government came to power with the promise of a legal guarantee of MSP and doubling farmers' income by 2022, but it has betrayed the farmers. During COVID-19, the government, by joining hands with the capitalists, had also conspired to hand over Indian farming to big capitalists with the help of three black laws," the joint forum said in a statement. 

Questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence on the non-fulfilment of his promise, they said, "A strategy was hatched to evict the farmers from their land and make them bonded labourers. The farmers of the country fought a historic long battle of 13 months against three agricultural laws in which around 750 farmers were martyred. Under the pressure of the farmers' movement, the government withdrew all three agricultural laws. But the written agreement regarding electricity and MSP has not been implemented yet."

They alleged that by amending the Mandi Act and the Essential Commodities Act, the government has conspired to establish legal control of corporations over crop procurement and food distribution and end price support and food security. 

Meanwhile, the joint forum and its leaders have been mobilising farmers, labourers and scheme workers across the state and appealing to them to gather in large numbers in Lucknow on November 26. Simultaneously, door-to-door campaigns and street plays are being held in various districts. 

All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) secretary Veena Gupta, who will be leading scheme workers during Mahapadav, told NewsClick, "The condition of scheme workers under the current regime has been deteriorating day by day. Salary of workers not increased in years." 

The Key Demands of the Mahapadav include a guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) on all crops with the formula of C-2 plus 50% as per the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission. Farmers' crops should be protected from stray animals. The ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets should be withdrawn. The four labour codes and the fixed-term employment law should be withdrawn, and the government must ensure equality and safety at work.

Additionally, the Mahapadav demands that the new amendment scheme be cancelled and the old pension scheme is restored, along with a guarantee of portability of comprehensive social security, including pensions. Moreover, the joint platform demands a monthly pension scheme of Rs 10,000 for all farmers and farm labourers. All categories of unorganised workers be registered, and all the scheme workers be regularised, including ASHA Midday Meal, Rasoiya, Anganwadi, Sevika and Sahayika.

Other demands include the registry of sharecropper farmers to get the benefits of all types of government schemes. The platform demands that the government withdraw the Agnipath scheme and fill the vacant sanctioned government posts. The pro-corporate PM Crop Insurance Scheme should be withdrawn, and a comprehensive public sector crop scheme for all crops should be set up. MGNREGA should be expanded to cities, and 200 days of work should be ensured for workers every year, along with a wage of Rs 600/day.

The long charter demands further mention making the right to work a fundamental right, withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill 2022, the formation of an Industrial Tripartite Committee and strict enforcement of the Forest Rights Act. Additionally, the platform demands that the construction workers be given the coverage of ESI and health scheme, maternity benefits, life insurance and disability insurance. Lastly, the platform demands that attacks on democratic rights must stop, and the government should stop the misuse of its investigative agencies to suppress opponents, journalists and people's movements. 

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