West Bengal Observes an Energetic May Day, CITU Calls on Workers to Build Resistance
Kolkata: For Sankar Pal, 42, who is a worker at the Alloy Steels Plant in Durgapur, a major industrial city in West Bengal, May Day is the day of reaffirming faith in the ideology of the working class. At a time when eight-hour work is under severe threat and the Union government is trying to sell off national assets, May Day or International Workers' Day celebrations reaffirm the faith of the factory workers who had successfully thwarted the attempted sale of the steel plant to the highest private bidder.
For Bikash Dey, a school teacher at the Gorkhara High School in the South 24 Parganas district, May Day heralds a new horizon every year in the struggle of the working class. As the cultural assimilation in the country is under serious threat from the Hindutva right-wing regime, then just the observation of May Day in a bold manner also can become "a warning bell in the corridors of power at New Delhi," Dey said while speaking to NewsClick.
Throughout West Bengal, more than hundreds of programmes, including street-corner meetings, factory-gate meetings, blood donation camps, seminars and symposiums commemorating May Day, were held. The central programme was held at the Shahid Minar Maidan in the heart of state capital Kolkata. Interestingly, till Saturday night, the police and administration had refused to give permission to the unified central trade union movement in the state to hold the rally at the Shahid Minar Maidan.
Call for Resistance at Shahid Minar Maidan
Addressing a huge gathering of thousands of trade union activists at the Shahid Minar Maidan, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) General Secretary Tapan Sen called on the working class of the country to defy and build resistance against the Union government, which he said is going against national interests and has put the working class in a challenging situation.
He also congratulated the country's workers on the centenary year of May Day observance in India, which was first celebrated in 1923 by Singaravelu Chettiar in the then Madras province.
Sen said that people defied the rulers of the country and the power elite of different states to observe May Day. He added that a big rally defying the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Karnataka government's diktat was taken out from Town Hall to Freedom Park in Bangaluru. Saying this, he warned that a process of economic vandalisation is in place in the country and does not conform to the laws of economics.
The CITU leader further elaborated, claiming that price hike is deliberately being organised in the country by causing the inordinate rise of petro products. He said that the government is defying the laws of economics by giving tax concessions to big corporate houses like Ambani and Adani and taxing the common people by increasing the fuel price to an extremely high level. He said a notable part of the central government's tax revenue comes from taxing petroproducts. He added that consumption is reducing and the country is facing a pandemonium.
He said resistance has been brewing against the aforementioned issues and cited the two-day national Strike in March, wherein lakhs of the working-class people in the country participated. He also quipped that the "economic vandalisation" is followed by "political vandalism" as the corporate bigwigs, the real mastermind behind this government, allegedly repay their debt to the RSS BJP through electoral bonds.
He also said that a new horizon in the country's movement and struggles has been opened by the farmers and workers' joint platform of protests, and such a strong platform has been able to make the government bow to the farmers' demand of repealing the three farm laws. He also took a potshot at the new labour codes whose materialisation is pending due to the resistance of the working class of the country. Only a unified labour movement can thwart the RSS-BJP cauldrons' venomous campaign of communalism in the country, the CITU leader said in his speech.
In the rally, the main proposal was raised by Anadi Sahu, General Secretary of West Bengal committee of CITU. In his speech, he cited the concrete situation in the state and the anti-strike approach of the state government and called on the working class to unitedly fight both the governments at the state and the Centre.
A praesidium comprising president A L Gupta (AIUTUC), along with Subhas Mukhopadhyay (CITU), Lina Chatterjee (AITUC), Dipak Saha (UTUC), Debdas Chatterjee (TUCC), Dibakar Bhattacharya (AICCTU), Tapan Dasgupta of 12th July committee, and Shishir Roy of BSNL administered the programme.
Apart from Sen and Anadi Sahu (CITU), Biplab Bhatta (AITUC), Swapan Ghosh (AIUTUC), Prabir Banerjee (TUCC), and Atanu Chakraborty (AICCTU), Ashok Ghosh (UTUC), Animesh Mitra of BSNL, Samir Bhattachchrya (12th July committee), and Jaideb Dasgupta (BEFI) also spoke in the programme.
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