People's Democracy

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


No. 10

March 09, 2014




Workers in the Street for Basic Demands


Jagdish Sharma


ON February 26, 2014, thousands of workers belonging to different trade unions, affiliated with the CITU, from across the state of Jammu & Kashmir held a massive protest rally at Jammu in support of their demands. The unions which participated in the demonstration included the Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union (J&K), ASHA Workers Union (Jammu), ASHA Workers Union (Kashmir), Mid-Day-Meal Workers Union, Railway Loading & Unloading Workers Union, Kashmir Constructional Workers Union, Jammu National Highway Workers Union, Construction of Tunnel & Four Lane Road Workers Union, Cheenani, Nirman Mazdoor Union (Jammu and Kathua), Industrial Estate Workers Union, Coal Khan Mazdoor Union, Rhedi and Phedi Workers Union, Bhatta Mazdoor Union, Hindustan Coca Cola Workers Union etc. Holding red flags, banners and placards in their hands and shouting slogans in support of their demands and against the anti-working class policies of the government, the workers in a procession passed through the bazaars of Dogra Chowk, Jewel Chowk, Gumat Bazaar, City Chowk, Rughnath Bazaar and culminated in front of the state assembly at Jammu.


While addressing the rally, CITU state president M Y Tarigami expressed concern over the  plight of the working class people who have been adversely hit by the sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities. The neo-liberal economic policies being pursued by the central and state governments have played havoc with the life of the working people, especially of those working in the unorganised sector. Tarigami further said that the failure of the government in extending the social security benefits to the workers in this sector, violation of labour laws, non-implementation of the Minimum Wages Act, extensive contractisation of work and attacks on the trade union rights have proved detrimental to the interests of the working class. Lauding the role of the ASHA workers in the field of patient care as a vital link between the community and public health, he stressed that the government must enhance their monthly incentives in the light of the recent directives from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the government of India. He also demanded enhancement of the state’s share in the honorarium of Anganwadi workers and helpers on the pattern of the Haryana government. Tarigami asked the government to regularise the services of daily wagers working in various departments including the electricians and plumbers in the PHE department, and to release the wages of casual, need based and contract workers. He called upon all the workforce of the state to come on common a platform irrespective of their affiliations and intensify the struggle against the anti-workers policies of the government.


State CITU general secretary Om Parkash also addressed the rally. He said the workers working at the National Highway in LEIGHTON are being harassed and victimised by the management, and added that the company has illegally terminated the services of the union’s leaders and implicated them in false criminal cases. He said this is nothing but an attack on the democratic rights of the workers, and demanded immediate reinstatement of the leaders and contract workers. He also condemned the managements of HCC Company at Bandipora and AFCONS at Jammu for violation of labour laws in regard to the employment of workers. He said the railway loading and unloading workers at Jammu have been working for the last 40 years but have not been covered under the EPF, ESI and social security schemes so far. Regarding the industrial sector, he condemned the behaviour of the owners of factories as they first open factories for taking the benefits of industrial subsidy and then close down the factories with the connivance of the state government; as a result the workers of such factories are thrown out of employment.


Senior CITU leader Sham Parsad Kesar expressed anguish over the pitiable condition of ASHA workers, Angnawadi workers and helpers, and mid-day meal workers. He demanded a minimum wage of Rs 10,000 per month for all these workers, pension and other social security benefits and also the right to organise as per the 45th India Labour Conference. He further demanded immediate implementation of the order issued by mission director of the National Rural Health Mission (ministry of health and family welfare, government of India), dated January 3, 2014 regarding enhancement of incentives including Rs 1,000 per month for ASHA workers.  He also demanded sanctioning of benefits to Anganwadi workers on the Haryana pattern, 65 as the retirement age, two uniforms per year, Jan Shri Bima Yoajna, scholarship to their children, six months maternity leave, 20 days casual leave, summer/winter vacation and TA/DA, among other things. Kesar further demanded speedy registration of construction workers and immediate release of pending claims to the beneficiaries.


The rally was also addressed by Hakeem Mohd Yaseen, (MLA and president, PDF) and Sheikh Abdul Rehman (state president, Samajwadi Party). Others who addressed included Abdul Rashid Najar, Jagdish Sharma, Ramesh Chand, Sunita Bhagat, Sukhvinder Kour, H D Bhomik, Kalaish Chander Nayak and Bawa Ram.