People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 25

June 29 , 2008


 AIAWU Plans 15-Day Campaign To Highlight Demands

The following is the text of the press release issued by AIAWU after its two day general council meeting recently.

Some 70 agricultural workers  leaders attended the general council meeting of All India Agricultural Workers Union at Nayyar Dam on June 21-22, 2008. They came from ten states of the country.  The general secretary of the union, A  Vijayaraghavan, MP, president P Ramayya, MLA, joint secretaries, Hanan Mollah, MP, Suneet Chopra, vice president Kumar Shiralkar and other office bearers guided the proceedings.

The council chalked out a plan of struggle against rising prices for jobs land and house sites and for social justice.  The union has also decided to raise the demand for a comprehensive central legislation for agricultural labour, for the cancellation of debts of agricultural labourers like those of farmers and will come out in support of the all India general strike of trade unions on August 20.  

In preparation for  this strike the union has  planned a 15 day campaign from August 1-15, highlighting demands like the proper implementation of NREGA, of the Forest Rights Act, of the Right to Information Act and the Prevention of Atrocities on Scheduled Castes  Act.  The council warned the poorest sections to be vigilant against the attempts of casteist and communal forces seeking to break the unity of  class based movements.  To carry the message forward the union has planned an all India jatha starting from Varanasi, Amritsar and Erode and culminating at Hyderabad on November 11, 2008.

The council warned the agricultural labourers to guard against divisive forces unleashed by imperialism with which the Manmohan Singh government is seeking a collaboration with despite the devastating effect of its interventions on the lives of the people.  The victories that have been gained by the Left from the UPA as part of the common minimum programme must be consolidated and carried forward through this programme of struggle.  

The union noted that the policies of WTO-dictated reforms favouring multi-nationals at the expense of small producers had had a devastating effect on farmers, 1,66,304 of whom had committed suicide in the last eight years with the figures  increasing over the last four years.  Agricultural labour had also grown poorer because of the decline in days of work available as government investment in the rural areas had gone down by two  thirds.  Around 20,000 people had starved to death in the last eight years but the government falsified figures of those below the poverty line and claimed that only 26 per cent were really poor.  The centre cut back 82 per cent of the quota for Kerala which had to be supplied by the Left Front government.  This exercise at fraud has been conducted only to prevent those below the poverty line from getting their  due from the PDS, which should be universalised and extended to all the people who need support in getting a proper diet.  

The Manmohan Singh government, with two ex-world bank employees, finance minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission deputy chairman  M S Ahluwalia,  have,  in their attempt to serve the interest of  global capital, destroyed the economy of the small producer and worker, so that they are no longer be  provided the basics of life.  In a globalised system, justice and law and order are also informally privatised, making it impossible for the poor to seek any redress  except by taking to crime  or  organising themselves as a union to defend their rights.

The AIAWU which celebrates its Silver Jubilee this year is proud to be  the largest such organisation of agricultural labourer in the country, with a membership of  over four million.  It has been led in the past by outstanding leaders like Dasrath Deb (the former chief minister of Tripura), L B Gangadhar Rao (veteran  of the Telengana armed struggle), Harkishan Singh Surjeet  (former general secretary of CPI(M) and P K Kunjachan (the founder general secretary of the all India organisation).  We are proud to note that the present chief minister of Kerala V S Achuthanandan was also a leader of this movement. This gives us hope to go  forward in struggle and achieve the basic demands of agricultural laborers in this country.