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‘Fight Against Common Enemy’: National Convention of Peasants, Workers, Rural Labour on Sep 5

The CITU, AIKS and AIAWU said representatives from 500 districts expected in Delhi meet to chalk out future joint action plan.
Mazdoor-Kisan Adhikar Mahadhiveshan

New Delhi: To chalk out future campaigns and action programmes against the Centre’s “anti-people” policies, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), and All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) have jointly decided to hold a national convention at Talkatora Stadium here on September 5.

In an online meeting held here on Wednesday evening, the leaders of the three organisations vowed to intensify the joint struggle and called it a fight between those “uniting the country” against the factions that are “trying to divide” it.

The leaders accused the Narendra Modi-led Central government of aggressively pursuing policies that are “against the interests of the nation and its lakhs of workers and agricultural workers”.

“On the 75th anniversary of Independence, as we are asked to celebrate ‘Amrit Mahotsav’, the policies of the Modi government are actually aimed at pushing the economy into a grave crisis,” Tapan Sen, general secretary, CITU, said while addressing the virtual meeting on Wednesday.

Sen said given the high rate of unemployment and surging inflation levels in the country, making ends meet for the majority was increasingly getting difficult. “The neoliberal policies of the Modi government are an attack on the right to livelihood of lakhs of people. All the productive forces – the workers, farmers, and agricultural workers – consolidate their movement to jointly fight such policies,” he said.

Hannan Mollah, general secretary, AIKS, noted that the three sections of the Indian society have identified their “common enemy” – the corporates – and are prepared to jointly fight against them. He also underscored the crisis in the rural sector that has been burdening the marginal agricultural worker in the country for many years now.

“Farmers’ suicides are still very high and the adequate price for a crop yield is still a far-off dream for many peasants in the country…  In such a situation, the recent increase in prices of fertilisers and other input costs has only put an additional burden on the farmers,” Mollah said.

B Venkat, general secretary, AIAWU, condemned the Modi government for “dividing the working class” by pursuing a policy of “communalisation”. “The present struggle is also a fight between those uniting the people against the factions that are trying to divide the Indian society,” he said.

Workers, farmers, and agricultural workers, led by these organisations, came on the same platform for the first time in September 2018, when a march near Parliament, called ‘Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally’, was held to press for a joint charter of demands. The rally had set the stage for unity between the working and cultivating forces through struggle – an idea, over the years, that has resonated with other groups as well.

Last year, during the farmers’ movement against the three controversial farm legislations, ‘Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Diwas’, called by Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), was celebrated at the protest sites, where thousands of agitating cultivators from multiple states had gathered.

It is along these lines that the national convention, termed ‘Mazdoor-Kisan Adhikar Mahadhiveshan’, on September 5 is expected to chart out an action plan that seeks to solidify the unity between workers, farmers, and agricultural workers. Representatives from 500 districts from across the country are expected to join the convention, the leaders said during the virtual meeting on Wednesday.

The demand for withdrawal of four Labour Codes is expected to be the most pressing one. Of late, there have been indications that the Centre is setting the stage, with the latest round of consultations with stakeholders, for a staggered implementation of Codes – with an initial rollout of two among them.

Flaying the codification of labour laws for diluting hard-won workers’ rights, trade unions have warned the Centre that they would resort to protest actions in case the government moves ahead with the implementation of the Codes. They are demanding the withdrawal of the Labour Codes in a similar decision like the withdrawal of the farm laws.

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