Massive Rally of Agricultural Laborers in Kolkata Demands Fair Wages
Kolkata: Tens of thousands of agricultural labourers staged a massive protest rally at Kolkata’s Rani Rashmoni Avenue on Monday to demand a daily wage of Rs 600 and 200 annual workdays.
“I earned Rs 300 daily during the Left Front’s rule. After 12 years, the amount has decreased to Rs 200. The rural rich are exploiting us,” Asim Manna (39), who came from Kalna (Purba Bardhaman) to participate in the protest, told Newsclick.
“Some landlords give us rice but it is unfit for consumption. We are paid so little. Several labourers have migrated to Tamil Nadu and other states. In Kerala, they earn about Rs 700 daily for the same work of reaping the harvest,” he added.
Asim, who stays in temporary accommodation, has to feed four mouths, including his aged parents. During off seasons, his wife also works in farmlands at three-fourths of his wages.
All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) secretary B Venkat said, “The Mamata Banerjee government is causing a lot of trouble to common people. Members of agricultural worker unions in other states are with us in our fight.”
Venkat also announced that a protest to demand an increase in MGNREGA wages will be launched. “The Union government is creating roadblocks for the MGNREGA. The TMC rules the state with the help of corporate entities and lumpen elements,” he alleged.
Union leaders asked labourers to demand work from the Panchayets. The union will go to court regarding the demand for the 200 workdays.
AIAWU leader A Bijayraghaban said that agricultural workers will demand an increase in the number of workdays on October 11. “Activists in Bengal should take this movement to a new height,” he said.
Other AIAWU leaders, including Amiya Patra, Nirapada Sardar, Tushar Ghosh and Banya Tudu, also addressed the rally.
MP and prominent legal doyen Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said that the state and the Centre are “quarreling and depriving the people of West Bengal of 100-days work programme. It is intolerable”.
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