National convention of workers and farmers

Calls for massive protests in all the State Capitals

By our special correspondent

The All India Joint Convention of Workers and Farmers, first of its kind held on 24th August 2023 at Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi has called for massive protest actions of the workers and peasants before the Raj Bhavans in all the State Capitals between 26th and 28th November 2023.The Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions including CITU, AITUC, INTUC, HMS, LPF/Federations including BEFI & AIBEA from the Banking Industry/Associations and SamyuktaKisanMorcha representing large sections of the farmers  of our country took stock of the alarming situation before the workers, farmers and all sections of common people of our country created by the destructive and disastrous pro-corporate policies being aggressively pursued by the government at the Centre since 2014.

The written assurances given by the Union Government to the Farmers on MSP and Electricity (Amendment) Bill etc. have not been honoured.  Due to the Government policies, the indebtedness of Farmers has increased and all the promises made to the Farmers to double their income have fallen flat.

The workers are faced with rising unemployment, job losses and spiralling prices of all essentials. All their hard-won rights are being watered down through Labour Codes, “for ease of doing business”. Permanent jobs are declining sharply; outsourcing, contract work in various formats, fixed term employment, gig work etc along with drastic decline in real wage level on the whole is becoming the new normal.

The struggle for Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and against National Pension Schemeby Government employees – both Central and State – has assumed a nation-wide proportion, with some of the States restoring the OPS, while the Centre tries to find escape route promising “Pension Committees” to look into it.

Privatisation is central to the policies of this Government. Education is being privatized. PSU Banks are being merged and being prepared for privatisation. LIC, GIC are targeted for privatisation.  Even 41 Ordnance Factories, producing defense equipment, have been turned into 7 corporations, prior to their privatisation, a patently anti-national move.

While the Corporate taxes are being reduced, common people are being saddled with higher GST burden and higher user charges of almost all public utility services. Wilful bank defaulters and fraudsters are being invited for “negotiated settlements” while insuring only Rs.5 lakhs of the depositors. Rs 14.56 lakh crore have been written off by the banks during last 9 years but this govt is not ready to write off the debts of peasants or to provide C2+50% MSP rates of their agricultural produce. National debt has climbed to Rs.153 lakh crores.

As a result of these policies, top 10% and top 1% in India hold 72% and 40.5% of the total national income respectively while the  share of bottom 50% has gone down to mere 3%. India is falling in all indices like hunger, poverty, child care, women safety, freedom of expression, human rights etc. 

The actions of the Government at the Centre are against the federal structure of our nation. The party ruling at the Centre, is using its brute majority to overturn Supreme Court Orders (Case of National Capital Service Matter), reconstituting the 3-member committee that decides the Chief Election Commissioner and the other Election Commissioners: by replacing the Chief Justice of India by a minister of the ruling party and the PM and the Leader of the Opposition being the other two.

The continuing ethnic clash in Manipur leading to huge loss of lives and atrocities on women, recent communal clashes in Haryana (Nuh) and similar provocations in other parts of the country as well –are all engineered by the divisive-polarisation oriented policy regime. Continuing atrocities on the most downtrodden sections of the society (incident of urinating on an tribal person in MP and two dalit boys in UP) and atrocities on internationally acclaimed women wrestlers, who raised their voice against their tormentor, the then President of Wrestling Federation of India, the premature release of BilkisBano’s rapists last year are also brutal expressions of same divisive machinations on the society being engineered by the ruling-clique.

Victorious struggles

The struggle of SamyuktaKisanMorcha has no parallel in the world. The Government had to take back their Farm Laws. Through our united struggles, the privatisation process in several PSUs like BPCL, CEL, some steel plants etc could be stalled, though only for the time being. Saving Vizag Steel Plantfrom privatisation has become people’s struggle. The united struggle of the electricity employees, in Maharashtra, UP, Puducherry, J&K, Chandigarh and Haryana forced the governments to retreat.

The national economy should be protected from the malice of the systemic crisis of the neoliberal policies by putting more money in the hands of the common peopleby increasing the statutory minimum wages and expanding and universalising social security measures, increasing subsidy to farmers etc. This can be done by increasing taxes on corporates, rich and the Super Rich, restoring Wealth Tax, and Succession Tax.

Our joint and coordinated struggles are to be developed at such a height that no government either at the Centre or States dare to impose anti-worker and anti-farmers policies. Working class and Farmers’ movement is destined to discharge this task along with the people at large.

The workers and farmers have to heighten our combat against the destructive policies of this government, both at the sectoral and national levels. The entire year of 2023 has to be a year of campaigns and combative agitations leading to higher forms of struggle at all levels to achieve thedemands which include:

•    Control price rise, remove GST on the essential items like food, medicines, agro-inputs and machineryand reduce substantially central excise duty on petroleum products and cooking gas.

•    Guarantee Food Security and Universalize Public Distribution System.

•    Guarantee Right to Free Education, Right to health, water and sanitation for all. Scrap New Education Policy, 2020.

•    Ensure housing for all.

•    National Minimum Wage of Rs.26000/-p.m.

•    Stop privatization of Public Sector Enterprises, Government Departments and scrap National Monetization Pipeline (NMP).

•    Withdraw the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022. No pre-paid smart meters.

•    Right to work to be made fundamental. Expand and implement MGNREGS (200 days per year and Rs.600/-per day wage). Enact Urban Employment Guarantee Act.

•    Increase subsidy to farmers on seed, fertilizers and electricity, legally guarantee MSP @ C-2+50% for farmers’ produce and guarantee procurement.

•    Implement written assurances given by the Union government, based on which the historic Kisan Struggle was suspended :Withdraw all pending cases, prosecute Ajay Mishra Teni, the Union MoS for Home.

•    Withdraw four labour codes, Fixed Term Employment and ensure equality and safety at work. Stop casualization of labour.

•    Scrap NPS, restore OPS and provide Social Security to ALL.

•    Tax the Super Rich; Enhance Corporate Tax; Re-introduce Wealth Tax and Succession Tax.

•    Stop attack on core values of the Constitution – freedom of expression, right to dissent, freedom of religion, diverse cultures, languages, equality before law and federal structure of the country etc.

The convention resolves to appeal to all the workers and farmers across the country to come forward and participate in the following joint and coordinated actions in the coming days :

1.     Observe 3rd October 2023 (LakhimpurKheri massacre of farmers in 2021) as Black Day, demanding dismissal and prosecution of the alleged conspirator, the Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra Teni.

2.     OrganiseDay and Night Mahapadav Struggle in front of the Raj Bhawans in the State Capitals of all the States and Union Territories, from 26 to 28 November 2023

3.     December 2023/January 2024 – Determined and Massive United Protest Actions across the country. (The form of actions will be declared later).

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