People's Democracy

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


No. 40

October 07, 2012




Workers Initiate a New Phase of Struggle


A K Padmanabhan


THE Shahjahan Park in Bhopal has witnessed to date many a morcha, dharna and meeting. But the mass of men and women who assembled there on September 29, 2012 morning, were a different lot. They had been there from different areas of Madhya Pradesh and they have been working in various sectors. Some had reached there on the night of September 28 itself. Others reached in the morning next day.


The stage was thus set for the mahapadav (Grand Sit-in) organised by the Madhya Pradesh state committee of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). The park and the roads leading to it were decorated with red flags, banners and festoons.


By 9 a m on the day, nearly 5,000 people had reached the Shahjahan Park. Almost every man or woman carried a bag on shoulder. They knew they had come there for a mahapadav --- something which was to continue for more than 28 hours.


The meeting began at 9 a m under a presidium that was led by Ramvilas Goswami, president of state CITU, and consisted of the vice presidents of the state committee. The various leaders of the CITU who addressed the participants, dwelt on the demands of the workers. Some of these demands were (1) a minimum wage of Rs 10,000 per month for unskilled workers, (2) an end to contractisation, (3) equal wage for equal work, (4) strict implementation of labour laws, and (5) pension for all, etc.


The mahapadav was a part of the national level struggle being conducted by the CITU since July 2012.  Every union affiliated to the CITU in the state is participating in this struggle. 


Women from the Anganwadi centres, ASHA and USHA workers, mid-day meal workers and the daily rated workers of other categories in various departments, the hammal workers from various mandis, medical representatives, coalmine workers and others are also active in this struggle.


The second session began with Pramod Pradhan, general secretary of the state CITU, giving full details of the charter of demands and the background of the mahapadav struggle.


CITU president A K Padmanabhan also addressed them and greeted them on behalf of the CITU Secretariat.  R D Tripathy (president of the state INTUC), Sultan Singh Shekhawat (general secretary of the state BMS), Roop Singh Chavan (general secretary of the state AITUC) and Badal Saroj (vice president of the state CITU) also addressed them, followed by leaders of the central and state government employees, bank and insurance employees, and other unions and associations.


Leaders of all the central trade union organisations expressed full support to the demands. These are after all the demands put forward by all the central trade union organisations themselves for a countrywide struggle. All these leaders of various unions continued their address till the evening when there began a series of cultural programmes, songs and skits --- all of these reflecting the life of the workers and the problems facing them. This continued till late in the night.


The workers spent the night in the same park, without worrying much about the swarms of mosquitoes that had started their attacks. By 8 a m next morning, the park wore a different look, with the clothes of the participants spread there for sun-drying and fluttering among the flags. A look at the park gave one an idea of the type of people who had assembled there.


By the side of the pandal, the state committee of the CITU met in the early morning. It was over by the time the proceedings began.


Leaders of the All India Kisan Sabha, All India Democratic Women’s Association and other mass organisations addressed the participants to express their solidarity.


The concluding session began with the CITU state president greeting the participants on behalf of the CITU state committee and by its all-India president on behalf of the CITU Secretariat.


State CITU general secretary, Pramod Pradhan, then detailed the future programme of campaigns and struggles.


According to Pradhan, there would be a strike by construction workers on November 6, as a part of the countrywide struggle.


On November 26-27, scheme workers would participate in a mahapadav at New Delhi; more than 8,000 workers will join it from the state.


Medical representatives of the state would join a strike on December 4, which is also a countrywide strike.


Simultaneously, the CITU would be preparing for and participate in the countrywide joint programme of central trade union organisations by organising state and district level conventions, jail bharo actions and dharnas on December 18, in the March to Parliament on December 20 and in the countrywide strike on February 20-21, 2013.


The five months long campaign of the state CITU will conclude with its district and state level conferences by the third week of January 2013.


Pradhan again reminded the audience about the necessity of reaching out to every worker in every sector for all these CITU campaigns.


It was clear that the CITU cadre would conclude this mahapadav only to begin a new phase of joint and independent campaigns and struggles. As for the organisational preparations for the programmes listed, a meeting of the state committee and a state level workshop for leading cadres is to be held on October 28-29, 2012, in order to equip them for these campaigns.


After the meeting, the participants marched towards the residence of the chief minister to submit the charter of demands raised for the mahapadav and the sectional demands of various sections of workers.


They were stopped on the way by the police and were told that the CM is on a foreign trip. A delegation of CITU leaders therefore submitted the memorandum to the CM’s office. 


The state labour minister informed the leaders that he would hold a discussion on the next day as he would not reach Bhopal only on the 30th. 




This mahapadav for more than 28 hours was a new and enriching experience not only for the participants but for the CITU leaders also. Belying apprehensions of many critics, the participants in the stayed mahapadav till the march was over. They included a sizeable number of women, and many of the latter were seen carrying their tiny tots in their laps or holding their fingers. This was despite two important festivals falling on the 29th and the 30th.


When the central trade union leaders, who had come to greet the participants of the mahapadav, asked the CITU leaders about the food arrangements for the participants, it was clarified that these workers had brought their own food. In fact they had come there prepared to stay for two days!


The Shahjahan Park mahapadav and the rally marked a new beginning in the history of working class struggles --- with more to follow.


The CITU leaders reminded the government that if the urgent demands were not met, there would take place more struggles and more mahapadavs. The future course of action will be decided later but the struggle is sure to continue till the demands are met,  The workers responded to the announcement by raising slogans which reflected their determination to continue the struggle.