A nationwide protest, demanding the withdrawal of draconian changes in labour laws, was observed today by several trade unions at the national and state level on the joint call given by 10 central trade unions. The CTUs have also submitted a joint petition to the Prime Minister via email, with their demands, including the withdrawal of total privatisation of public sector enterprises and corporatisation of agriculture.
The petitions were released across the country by participating leaders and activists and sent to the Prime Minister. As part of the protest action on May 22, hunger strikes, demonstrations and processions were organised at several places. A number of participating union leaders also faced arrest, including those protesting at the Raj Ghat in the national capital and in West Bengal. They have not been released yet. In many states including in Noida UP, trade union leaders were arrested the previous day, to suppress the action. In spite of that workers participated in the strike in a massive way.
Following the protest day observation, the CTUs have released a press statement detailing the various actions that were taken up by trade unions across the country. The press release states that while employees from independent federations and associations such as banks, defence, telecom, etc., showed their solidarity by wearing black badges, hunger strike was resorted to in several states and militant programs held in Telangana, Jharkhand and Gujarat. In Maharashtra, industrial workers observed two hours strike, while in Tamill Nadu, around 10,000 places witnessed the participation of over 2 lakh workers.
The release added that “there were reports that though the scheme workers- Aanganwadi, ASHA were on their duties of door to door visits for screening and making data etc. related with COVID 19 despite that they could participate in programmes in several parts of the country”.
Workers from various sectors railways, power and electricity, HAL, port., etc. to beedi, plantation, MGNREGA , sanitation workers, scheme workers and domestic workers also participated in the protest. In addition to these, many workers and family members joined the protest from their home.
Among the demands made by the central trade unions is also the demand for relief for workers during the COVID-19 lockdown, social security for workers and other such demands to strengthen labour laws.
The 10 central trade unions include Centre of Indian Trade Unions, All India Trade Union Congress, Indian National Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, All India United Trade Union Centre, Trade Union Coordination Committee, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, Self Employed Women’s Association, Labour Progressive Federation and United Trade Union Congress.