People's Democracy

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


No. 45

November 11, 2012






Ludhiana Witnesses Successful Halla Bol Rally


Raghunath Singh

AT the call of the Punjab CITU a massive Halla Bol rally was held at Ludhiana on November 4, in protest against the criminal delay in revising the minimum wages of industrial workers of Punjab. Over 10,000 industrial workers, brick kiln workers, MNREGA workers, forest, construction, transport and FCI workers, workers of private security agencies, Anganwadi workers and helpers, ASHA and mid-day meal workers took part in this rally.


They came from every corner of Ludhiana. Workers of bicycle and various other industries marched towards the venue of the rally in processions, carrying banners of their respective unions and CITU flags while shouting loud slogans. They were demanding revision of the minimum wages, abolition of contract labour system, implementation of the May 30 notification issued by the Labour Department of Punjab, and coverage of all scheme workers under the Minimum Wages Act.


Later the whole pandal too reverberated with slogans for long.


The rally was addressed by CITU general secretary Tapan Sen who made a scathing attack on the economic policies of the centre and its abject surrender before the indigenous capitalists and multinational corporations.


Local trade union leaders too lambasted the UPA government for slashing subsidies to the common people in the name of economic reforms while doling out subsidies, tax rebates and loan remission worth thousands of crores to the corporate sector. They also criticised the SAD-BJP government of Punjab for suppressing the workers’ rights and denying them minimum wages. They said a notification issued by the state government for the purpose in May 2012 was yet to be implemented.


Addressing the rally, state CITU general secretary Raghunath Singh said all the trade unions of Punjab are unanimously demanding Rs 10,000 as the minimum wage for unskilled workers, Rs 15,000 for semi-skilled workers, and Rs 20,000 for skilled workers, and Rs 350 per day for the daily rated unskilled workers. After several meetings and discussions in the Labour Advisory Board of Punjab, the principal labour secretary issued a notification on May 30, 2012, proposing Rs 5,200 for the unskilled, Rs 6,000 for semi-skilled, Rs 7,200 for skilled and Rs 8,700 for highly skilled workers per month, and Rs 200 per day for daily rated workers. The notification also made some other proposals such as an increase in the rate of DA from Rs 6 per point to Rs 9 per point, and promotion of unskilled workers to the level of the semi-skilled after a period of three years, of semi-skilled workers to the skilled category after four years of service and of skilled worker to the highly skilled category after five years. The notification also proposed to give an annual increment of Rs 50 to the unskilled, Rs 60 to the semi-skilled, Rs 80 to the skilled and Rs 100 to the highly skilled workers. But the notification, issued by the Labour Department of the state government, remains still on paper.


Announcing the next phase of action, Raghunath Singh said that to get the May 30 motification implemented in letter and spirit, the CITU would launch a Jatha March campaign from December 13 to 17 and block the road traffic for two hours on December 18, apart from continuing the present campaign of burning effigies of the Punjab government and holding rallies and demonstrations.


State CITU president Vijay Misra, who presided over the rally, asked the workers to endorse the action plan for future agitation. The workers endorsed it amid resounding slogans. Misra also announced that over 10,000 workers from Punjab would participate in the March to Parliament on December 20 to protest against the anti-people policies of the UPA government.


The rally was also addressed by state CITU vice presidents Chander Shekhar, Jatinder Pal Singh, Ranvir Virk and Ram Singh Sohian CITU, Sat Pal Bharti and Tarsem Jodhan (president and general secretary respectively of the Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union), Usha Rani (president) and Harjit Kaur (general secretary) of the Anganwari Mulajam Union, Mohinder Kumar, state CITU joint secretary Jagdish Chand, Fateh Chand and other office bearers of the CITU.