The change of government in Tamil Nadu has not brought much relief to the workers, farmers and tribals. The workers continue to hit the streets with protests demanding solutions and relief for their long-pending issues.
The demands for regularisation and permanent jobs, time scale pay, pension echoed on the streets as the new Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government failed to address these issues in spite of making promises in their election manifesto.
The farmers in the western part of the state are also demanding compensation for their land acquired for the installation of high tension electric lines. The tribals from different districts continue their wait for land, house pattas and community certificates.
The government has cited the financial constraints of the state and higher allocation to counter the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for the delay in addressing the issues. But, the trade unions have urged the government to fulfil the promises and bring relief to workers struggling to meet their ends.
NUTRITIOUS MEAL WORKERS PROTEST
The workers of the nutritious meal scheme run by the government of Tamil Nadu held statewide protests demanding time scale salary. The workers, largely women, continue to demand a pension of Rs 9,000 and a gratuity of Rs 5 lakh on completion of service.
P Sundarammal, state president of the Tamil Nadu Nutritious Meals Employees Association said, “The government should announce those who have completed 38 years of service as government employees and ensure promotion is ensured. The vacancies must be filled up to ensure the smooth implementation of the nutritious meal scheme in all the government schools."
Protest of Nutritious meal employees in Chennai
Meanwhile, the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) organised themselves and formed a state union to press their demands. The workers of ASHA continue to play a vital role in rural areas on health-related awareness among pregnant women and children.
A.R. Sindhu, national convenor of the ASHA workers said, “The ASHA workers must be provided time scale wage and all legal rights. The workers in Kerala are provided Rs 9,000 monthly wage and Rs 6,000 as a monthly incentive. This should be implemented in Tamil Nadu as well."
TRIBALS' WAIT CONTINUES
The painful wait of various nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes continues in Tamil Nadu as their demands for land, house pattas and community certificates remain unfulfilled, despite promises from successive governments.
The Tamil Nadu Tribals Association (TNTA) led an indefinite sit-in protest in Tiruvallur district for the demands of Irular tribes living in different parts of the district. The members of the tribe are deprived of education due to the delay in the issuance of community certificates.
TNTA leading a protest in Tiruvallur district on demands of the Irular tribe (Courtesy: Theekkathir)
The district collector of Tiruvallur held talks with the TNTA leaders and promised to consider their demands within one month. But, a case was filed by the district police on the protesters including TNTA state president P Dilli Babu, who is a former CPI(M) MLA.
P Shanmugam, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu unit of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), wondered on what grounds did the police filed a case against the protesters after the talks were held.
“The protest was withdrawn after the talks with the district collector. Only the chief minister who handles the police department can answer why the protesting people were booked”, Shanmugam added.
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin announced in the recently concluded assembly session that the government would attempt to find quick solutions for the demands of the tribals.
FARMERS SEEK COMPENSATION FOR ACQUIRED LAND
The farmers of ten districts in western Tamil Nadu took out marches and rallies seeking compensation for land acquired for the installation of the high tension electric lines in farmlands.
Farmers took out a rally to the district revenue office in Tiruvannamalai district
Different farmers unions were opposing the installation of high tension electric lines and the DMK extended support.
The AIKS has demanded that new projects of the state government should not affect the farmers and the fertile lands. The organisation insisted on implementing such projects alongside the highways, which the state of Kerala successfully implemented for laying GAIL pipelines.
The aggravated farmers had extended support to the DMK during the assembly elections based on the promises made by the party in the manifesto.
WORKERS HOLD PROTESTS
The contract workers of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) held protests demanding ensured daily wage and preference in existing vacancies.
“The contract workers must be paid Rs 380 per day and must be given priority while filling existing vacancies in TANGEDCO”, said a statement from the Central Organisation of Tamil Nadu Electricity Employees (COTEE).
The contractualisation in the TANGEDCO has been opposed by the workers, which they accuse will lead to total privatisation of the department and a decrease in the number of permanent employees and workers.
The workers of the state-run liquor outlets held a protest in Chennai against the victimisation of trade union office bearers, wage revision and job security.
CITU Tamil Nadu president A Soundarrajan led the protest highlighting the plight of contract workers.
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) held a protest to highlight the plight of workers in the private and state-run organisations in Chennai and Tiruvallur districts. The state president of CITU, A Soundarrajan, said that the contract workers in both private and government organisations are being exploited and denied basic rights of minimum wages and job security.
The DMK had made a promise to dedicate the first 100 days of its government to solve peoples' issues but has fallen short of the promise. Despite receiving accolades for handling the COVID-19 pandemic effectively, the promises to farmers, tribals and workers remain only on paper.