(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 22, 2009
‘Stop Squeezing Us’
Workers March To Parliament
THOUSANDS of angry workers marched to parliament on February 18, 2009 protesting job cuts, layoffs, closure of units and wage cuts on the pretext of economic crisis. The rally of workers from all over India was a mammoth one even modestly speaking and a very colorful one with Red flags fluttering all around. Such a huge gathering of workers was witnessed in New Delhi after a long time and after many years the Delhi administration had to allow the rally to be held on the parliament street, at the heart of the city which they normally do not allow for such huge gatherings.
The big gathering on the parliament street in the morning was joined by huge number of marchers from Ramlila Maidan by noon. The entire area was teeming with people who were raising full-throated slogans protesting against the anti-people policies of the UPA government. Employees and workers in sectors like banking, insurance, railways, airlines, defence production etc were joined by unorganised sector workers in large numbers.
The presidium consisted of S Dev Roye (CITU), Amarjeet Kaur (AITUC), N N Thomas (AICCTU), Sankar Saha (AITUC), D N Jha (TUCC) and Ashok Ghosh (UTUC). The speakers were M.K. Pandhe (CITU), Gurudas Das Gupta (AITUC), Swapan Mukherjee (AICCTU), Krishna Chkaraborty (AIUTUC), S P Tiwari (TUCC), Abani Roy (UTUC) and from the Federations, Venkatachalam (AIBEA), A K Bhatnagar (Insurance, AIIEA), S N Pathak (AIDEF, Defence), Raghavendra (CGE) and Sukomal Sen (AISGEF).
M K Pandhe, in his speech strongly criticised the UPA government which by its anti-worker, anti-people policies led to a serious crisis in the life and livelihood of both industrial and agricultural workers. He condemned the government for taking no steps to stop mass scale retrenchment, wage cut and job loss while simultaneously going out of the way to help the rich and the affluent corporates by giving them thousands of crores of rupees to deal with the impact of the crisis. The UPA government has created several "Arabpati" (billionaires) Indians. Those rich are now throwing out workers from jobs only to increase their profits. He mentioned that it is the beginning of a big war against the government and the workers will have to defeat the government and the parties responsible for their plight in the next general election.
The rally passed a resolution that contained a 13-point demand charter asking for job security, better wage, investment in agriculture & social sector and job guarantee for rural and all urban poor like NREGA.
Later, a five member team of trade union leaders met the finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and submitted a memorandum on behalf of the 50,000 strong gathering and millions of workers who could not come here.
This mammoth gathering of workers in the national capital is a clear expression of anger and frustration of people in a situation when workers, peasants, agricultural workers and workers in service sector are faced with job loss, wage loss, uncertainty and resultant hunger. They marched to the parliament to vent their anger and condemn the insensitivity of the government to their problems.