This May Day comes at a very crucial juncture in our history. Crucial, not simply because there is a belligerent Hindu Right government in power but also because it comes in the wake of the most unprecedented belligerence of the upper castes and their all-round violence, especially on the Dalit communities across the land. Last year we had witnessed the most shameful incident of violence in the flogging of four Dalit youth by the cow gangs of Hindutva, which was followed by massive protests by Dalits and joined in by other sections of people, including some of the Left forces, as well. The attack had to do with the very specific form/s of labour that Dalit communities have been made to traditionally perform in Hindu society, in this case, the work of disposing of carcasses of dead animals, skinning them and so on. Continue reading Thinking Labour in Contemporary India – For a Different May Day Agenda
Guest Post by Aswathi Nair and Umar Khalid (With Photographs and Videos by K. Fayaz Ahmed, Azhar Amim, Samim Asgor Ali, Reyazul Haque and Agnitra Ghosh)
Exactly nine years back, in 2007, ten students were rusticated (again) in the month of May for their “crime” of agitating along with workers to ensure the legally mandatory minimum wages for the workers here in JNU. It was the peak of summer, the time of holidays, and the administration (like this time, like every time) thought that they could break the unity of the workers and students with crackdown timed to coincide with what was thought to be the ‘weakest’ time for mobilization on campus. The administration’s plans did not bear fruit then, they will not work now either.
We are in that strange time again. The summer of 2016 has witnessed a May Day wherein the workers in JNU not only took out their own rally, but also rallied with us students sitting on the 4th Day of their Indefinite Hunger Strike against administrative crackdown on our democratic spaces. Continue reading Workers and Students Unite on May Day in JNU: Aswathi Nair & Umar Khalid
A major victory for the agitating workers in Gorakhpur
Dismissed workers taken back
Factory owners buckle under pressure – Locked out mills to start from June 3
New Delhi, June 2. Workers in Gorakhpur achieved a major victory in their struggle when the factory owners agreed to start the two locked out mills from June 3 and take back the dismissed workers. 12 of the 18 workers will join work immediately and the remaining 6 will be taken back after a domestic enquiry. The workers also forced the owners to accept that no one from the management will be in the enquiry committee; it will have two members from the office staff and one workers’ nominee.
The decision was taken at negotiations held till late night at the district magistrate’s residence. The two owners of the VN Dyers and Processors yarn mill and textile mill, the district magistrate and deputy labour commissioner and seven workers’ representatives were present at the meeting.
These two mills in the Bargadwa area of Gorakhpur were illegally locked out since April 10. Around 500 workers work in both of these mills owned by the Ajitsaria family having an annual turnover of more than 150 crores. 18 workers of these two mills were dismissed by the owners. The workers were agitating for reinstatement of their colleagues and restarting the factories.
The workers of Ankur Udyog Ltd., a factory in the Bargadwa industrial area in Gorakhpur, eastern UP were attacked by goons called by the factory owner the morning of 3 May. At least seven workers were seriously injured in firing by the goons. Apparently, the factory owners of Gorakhpur have been very angry with the workers for attending the May Day rally at Jantar Mantar, Delhi and one of them suspended 18 workers as soon as they went to resume work. The workers protested against this and the factory owner sent hired goons who fired on the workers injuring 19 of them. The workers had cornered the goons inside the factory but the police came and took them away and let them free. FIRs have been registered from both sides.
As the tension and repression of the factory owners and the district administration mounts, the workers have planned to go on Satyagraha from May 8 (tomorrow) and the administration is determined to not let it happen. We have received messages saying that trade union organizers fear for the life and safety of the workers and their leaders. The voice of protests from many forums and due to the incident being covered by the local media, the administration has refrained from taking any one sided action till now. But conspiracies are being hatched behind the scenes. Its not a distant reality that the leaders might be killed in fake encounters, or slapped with false charges or lynched by mobs instigated by the factory owners or Adityanath’s goons.
Nations build memorials to the Unknown Soldier. A militarized imagination in which the glory of the Nation is embodied in a nameless and faceless figure who courts death. This faceless Unknown Soldier must die so that the myth of the nation can live, and a mythical National Interest devastate the everyday lives of the powerless.
This May Day, let us sing to the memory of the Unknown Worker – celebrated by no one, not even in abstraction! The faceless figure on whom rest our lives of luxury, our ‘growth’ and the profits of the bourgeois. I borrow the the term ‘unknown worker’ from Susie Madrak.
Let us, we who have no nation – antinationals, postnationals, aliens, refugees, immigrants, undocumented workers, development refugees – sing the strains of the Internationale. Let us recall the days when the poetry of the International truly belonged to the ‘wretched of the earth’, the time when the Internationale was not yet taken over and made into the official anthem of nations, parties and governments. The long winter of party-state-nation appropriations of the voices of struggle, that set in more than a century ago, and once again imprisoned them, may be nearing its end.
When Maoist Newa state in charge Hitman Sakya asked the assembled crowd at Khula Manch to silently honor martyrs, the moment turned somber. The leaders stood with their heads down on the stage, and on the ground, all one could see were thousands and thousands of fists raised up. There was pin-drop silence.
A bit later, members of the Maoist cultural wing sang and danced. The lyrics were deeply political, hitting out at the NC, UML and India, projecting the Maoists as the only people’s party, and wooing the security forces by showing uniformed personnel shaking hands with Maoists ‘to build a new Nepal’. The crowd was enthralled. Continue reading The City Turns Red – Kathmandu on May Day