People's Democracy

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


No. 48

December 02, 2012



Brick Kiln Workers Hold State Convention


ON November 24, the Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) organised a state level convention at Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall, Jalandhar, with around two thousand brick kiln workers from almost all the 22 districts of Punjab taking part in it. The convention was chaired by Satpal Bharti, state president of the union.


Addressing the convention, Punjab CITU general secretary Raghunath Singh condemned both the UPA government at the centre and the Akali-BJP government in the state for their failure to protect the employment of over 3,50,000 brick kiln workers. He added that due to the closure of over 3,000 brick kiln units the livelihood of about 12 lakh construction workers too was in jeopardy, in addition to that of the brick kiln workers. Commenting on the notification regarding revision in the minimum wages, which was issued on November 15 under the pressure of a mass movement launched by the CITU, Raghunath Singh said the issuance of the notification was only a partial achievement of the workers and that the CITU has every reason to be proud of it. But at the same time the CITU strongly condemned the Akali-BJP government for removing several pro-worker proposals which were given in the notification issued on May 30, 2012 by the principal labour secretary of Punjab government. Congratulating the workers and CITU activists for getting issued the notification which had been put in the cold storage by the Akali-BJP government and forcing the government to implement the revised minimum wages with effect from September 1, 2012, Raghunath Singh announced that the CITU would continue its agitation for a minimum wage of Rs 10,000 for unskilled workers, and for the protection of employment of brick kiln and construction workers.


Supporting the call for an all-India general strike on 20th and 21st February 20 and 21, 2013, Raghunath Singh said the CITU would launch a statewide jatha march from December 13 to 17 and also organise a Chakka Jam for two hours on December 18. Over 10,000 industrial workers, brick kiln workers, forest workers, MGNREGA, construction and transport workers, Anganwari, ASHA, mid-day meal and safai workers would participate in the March to Parliament on December 20.


In his address, state CITU president Vijay Misra said the CITU would further widen and intensify its struggle against the anti-people and anti-worker policies of the central and the state governments. He expressed confidence that the nationwide two-day strike on February 20 and 21 would get unprecedented response and success in Punjab, adding that the CITU would not leave any stone unturned to take the message of this strike to the house of every worker, peasant, shopkeeper and other toilers.


Tarsem Jodhan, general secretary of the Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union, warned that if the employment of over 3,50,000 brick kiln workers and over 12 lakh construction workers is not protected by allowing all the brick kiln units to run and if the black
marketing of sand and concrete is not banned, the Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union CITU would not remain a mute spectator. He urged upon the workers to prepare for a Jail Bharo movement along with their families if their employment and basic rightsare not protected up by the central and the state governments. He also announced that 5,000 workers would take part in the March to Parliament on December 20.


In a separate resolution the convention paid condolence to the sweepers who died due to poisonous gas which spread in the air when they removed the cover of a sewerage hole. The convention demanded Rs 10 lakh compensation for the kins of the deceased and regular employment to one dependent of each victim.


Ranbir Singh Virk, Dev Raj Verma, Mohinder Kumar Badhoan, Hari Singh Dhindsa,  Charanjeet Singh,  Ranjit Singh,  Sukhdev Singh, Gohal  Garh, Gurdeep  Singh, and Somnath Satnaur also addressed the convention.