People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXVI

No. 30

July 29, 2012

                                                                    

PUNJAB

 

CITU Launches Mass Contact Campaign


Raghunath Singh


AT the call of all-India Secretariat of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), its Punjab state unit launched a mass contact campaign on July 2, in opposition to the anti-people neo-liberal economic policies, illegal contract labour system, mounting attacks on basic trade union rights of the workers, violation of existing labour laws, and in support of the just and genuine demands of the working class. These demands include the demand of enhancement of the minimum wage of unskilled workers to Rs 10,000, of semi-skilled workers to Rs 15,000 and of skilled workers to Rs 20,000 per month, and of MGNREGA workers to Rs 350 per day. The CITU is also demanding regularisation of services of the workers who were employed on contact basis against regular posts; abolition of the contract labour system, and ensured equal wage for equal work in all industrial units as well as in government and semi-government departments.

 

The CITUís demands charter also includes protection of basic trade union rights, implementation of labour laws and ensured pension for all, regularisation of the ICDS, coverage all schemesí workers like the Anganwari workers and helpers, ASHA and mid-day meal workers under the Minimum Wages Act 1948, and implementation of the Punjab governmentís notification of February 17, 2012, giving the direction for treatment of  minimum wages as basic wages.

 

During the campaign, public meetings and mass rallies were organised at Birhan, Mahilpur, Raikot, Bathinda, Mansa, Mohali, Ropar, Asron, Banah Tonsa, Ludhiana, Barnala, Firozepur, Moga, Sangrur, Malerkotla, Ahmadgarh,, Dhuri, Rajpura, Patiala, Fazilka, Lehra Mohabat, Jagraon, Amritsar, Patran, Nangal, and at the gates of several industrial units. Punjab CITU leaders including its president Vijay Misra and general secretary Raghunath Singh addressed these meetings. They rejected the Punjab governmentís notification proposing Rs 5,200 per month as the minimum wage for unskilled, Rs 6,000 for semi-skilled and Rs 8,700 for skilled workers. They also demanded withdrawal of all false police cases registered against the leaders and activists of CITU and other trade unions.

 

During the campaign, the CITU approached nearly 15,000 industrial, MGNREGA, brick kiln, forest, construction, transport, ASHA and mid-day meal workers.

 

On July 9, Rasta Roko action was also organised at five places.

The actions under the campaign that continued till July 19, received good coverage in the local press everywhere to our campaign.


MILITANT PROTEST

MARCH IN PUNBUS

At the call of the Punjab CITU, contract workers of Punjab Roadways (PUNBUS) held a state level rally at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall in Jalandhar to press their demands. These include abolition of the contract labour system which is an illegal system, regularisation of the services of all contract workers appointed against regular posts, and ensured equal wage for equal work.

 

Around 700 drivers, conductors and workshop workers from all the 18 depots of the Punjab Roadways took part in this rally. Nearly 100 regular workers and leaders of the CITU belonging to the Punjab Roadways and PRTC also joined this rally.

 

Kamal Kumar, president of the Punjab Roadways Contract Workers Union presided over the rally. Addressing the rally, Punjab CITU general secretary Raghunath Singh strongly condemned the Akali-BJP government and the management of the Punjab Roadways (PUNBUS) for appointing around 5,000 workers on contract basis against regular posts, which is fragrant violation of Section 10 of the Contract Labour (Abolition and Regularisation) Act 1970. He further added that the government is guilty of violating the principle of equal wage for equal work, as has been ensured in Section 25 of the said act, in regard to the workers who have been appointed on contract basis. He pointed out that a skilled contract worker is being paid Rs 3,500 to 5,000 per month, and asked the Akali-BJP leaders as to how a worker and his family could survive on this meagre wage.

 

The CITU has warned the Punjab government and the management of the Punjab Roadways to regularise all their contract workers without any further delay or face a still more intensified and wider agitation of these workers and other sections.

 

Leaders of the CITU and Contract Workers Union congratulated the workers on the success of their rally despite scorching sun.

 

After the rally, the workers took out a militant procession through the city thoroughfares, covering three kilometre distance. Over 50 activists of the union were wearing red aprons, with slogans of their demands on these aprons. The procession, which drew wide attention, reached the deputy commissionerís office where the participants staged a dharna. The deputy commissioner called the leaders of the union for a meeting wherein he assured that he would forward the workersí demands to the chief minister, the labour minister, and the principal secretary, labour and employment, of the Punjab government.