The farmers’ struggle at the Delhi borders completed six months yesterday, the 26th of May. The day was observed as a Black Day all over the country, at the call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM).
Braving unprecedented cold, followed by rains and storm, the struggle has now moved into the cruelest part of Delhi’s summer. In the process, it has lost 470 of its people, thanks to the obstinacy of the government. If one dates the beginning of the struggle from June, when it began in Punjab, soon after the farm laws were stealthily, under cover of the pandemic, promulgated as ordinances by the Central government, the struggle has been on for ten months now. In other words, it is incorrect to go on referring to it as a protest – which we routinely do for many lost causes – for it is now a ‘do or die’ struggle. It became so from the time it shifted its venue to lay siege to Delhi.
Periodically, the government, its police and its minions in the media try and zero in on this epic struggle of the farmers for its ignoring, if not violating of Covid19 protocols. All this even as they look the other way while lakhs of people are thrown into the jaws of death, brought about by the mass murderers who have pushed populations in four states into prolonged election campaigns, played cynical games with precious oxygen and vaccine supplies and allowed all kinds of mass religious gatherings of the Hindus to take place in complete disregard of any protocol whatsoever.
In this year of COVID19, the organized ‘working class’ movement completes a hundred years of its history. It was on October 31 1920, that the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the first central trade union organization, came into being. This might be a good occasion to take stock – to look back into history from what can only be described as a very troubled and difficult present – and peer forward into the future.
The year of COVID19 reveals, among other things, the very fragile and unstable nature of this entity called ‘the working class’ in countries like India. The monstrous situation arising out of the pandemic only provides us the window to that long and endless process by which the ‘working class’ is constantly made and remade. In a very important sense, unlike the peasantry which has a far more stable existence (till, for the requirements of Capital, it is uprooted and thrown into urban labour markets), the working class is an inherently structurally unstable social group. Given that its fate is tied to the requirements, caprices and maneouvres of Capital, the working class is not given to us readymade, once and for all. For as long-term changes in industry and technology occur or capital takes flight in the face of worker militancy, the working class too undergoes changes.
In March this year, the Ministry for Labour and Employment unveiled the third of its series of Labour Codes aimed at simplifying and rationalizing the labour laws. The Draft Labour Code on Social Security has been placed in the public domain and comments and suggestions have been invited in respect of its provisions. The Draft Code is ambitious in scope and amalgamates the provisions of 15 central labour laws relating to social security. Continue reading The Draft Labour Code on Social Security-Workers’ Concerns: Ramapriya Gopalakrishnan→
Guest Post by Anshita & Arya (Krantikari Naujawan Sabha)
All 310 contract workers in ASTI Electronics factory in IMT Manesar in Gurgaon, Haryana have been on dharna since 3rd November 2014 after they were laid-off on 1st November 2014 citing low work demand. Seven of them are on fast-unto-death from 24th November, while ten workers and pro-worker activists each everyday sit on relay hunger strike.
In a context where contract workers, increasing exponentially as a demand of the capitalists gleefully forced down by the government through labour law reforms, are finding it ever harder to organize/unite and sustain spontaneous outburts of discontent, due to the precarious nature of their life and work conditions, workers at ASTI Electronics (as a continuation of the 60-70 strikes in various factories in the industrial belt of Gurgaon-Manesar-Dharuhera-Bawal in the last few months) are fighting back and keeping the flame of new emergent struggles alive.
These workers are raising important questions on contractualisation and informalisation within the organized sector which even Central Trade Unions have constantly avoided. Over 250 of these 310 workers are women whose militancy in struggle and leadership is redefining the overall struggle and changing the gender relations within the workers movement.