Demand stronger policies and end to disinvestment of public sector

A “Workers' March to Parliament” in the Capital on Wednesday saw a heavy turnout of workers of various central trade unions protesting against price rise, unemployment, labour law violations and disinvestment.

The participating organisations included the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the Indian National Trade Union Congress, the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, the All-India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), the Trade Union Coordination Centre, the All-India Central Council of Trade Unions and the United Trade Union Congress.

Addressing the gathering on Parliament Street, AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said: “We have come here to ask the government to have a stronger labour policy, to stop disinvestment of public sector units and to address corruption and the issue of unemployment. This is the first time after Independence that the Left and non-Left trade unions have come together for the cause of the people.”

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat and Communist Party of India leader D. Raja were present.

The president of the Congress-affiliated INTUC, G. Sanjeeva Reddy, said the trade union was participating in the rally because of price rise and unemployment. “The situation is bad. Disinvestment in factories has thrown people out of jobs. We have raised our voice against the laws that are against labourers.” On increasing attacks by the government on the rights of the workers, AIUTUC president Krishna Chakraborty stressed the need to forge working class unity to exert pressure on the Centre to accept the demands put forward by the unions.

Speakers demanded universalisation of social security for unorganised workers. They accused the government of ignoring the needs of the working people and pursuing policies such as deregulation of petroleum prices leading to price rise.

Demands were raised for the prices of essential commodities to be contained through steps such as universal public distribution system and containing speculation in the commodity market.

Enforcement of basic labour laws, employment protection in recession-stricken sectors and creation of jobs by increasing pubic investment in infrastructure were also emphasised.

Representatives from the unions met Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and presented a memorandum of demands.