Several workers’ unions in Gurugram’s automotive sector and the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), a conglomerate of 500-odd farmers' unions agitating against the farm laws, came together for the first time to hold a joint public meeting, “Mazdoor-Kisan Panchayat”, in support of their demands on Sunday.
Organised by Bellsonica Auto Components Employees Union, a workers’ union of a Tier-one supplier company to auto major Maruti Suzuki, the seven-hour public meeting near Mini-secretariat saw participation of SKM’s national and local leadership including farmer leaders Darshan Pal and Yudhvir Singh, and Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan, besides leaders and workers from around a dozen workers’ unions in the region.
The major demands raised at the meeting were to withdraw the anti-worker labour codes, implement the policy of regular job for regular work, stop retrenchment of workers, and revoke the three farm laws.
Stressing on the similarities between the farmers and the workers, Mr. Ugrahan, in his speech, said though the demands of the two groups were different, their needs and economic status were similar. The soldier-turned-farmer leader said both farmers and workers, were indifferent to each other’s problems since their demands were different, but their exploiter was one and his policies for them were same.
“It is the same government which has brought the three farm laws and the four labour codes. They want to take it away from the working class and put it in the pockets of the corporates,” said Mr. Ugrahan.
He cautioned that the three farm laws would lead to more hunger, debt, suicides and unemployment. “If the farmers are rendered landless due to the policies of the government, they too would become labourers. It will lead to more unemployment among labourers and increase their exploitation,” said Mr. Ugrahan.
Mr. Pal, in his ten-minute speech, said the farmers agitation spanning almost a year would not have been possible without all farmers' unions of Punjab and the country joining hands and added that the “day is not far-off when the different flags of farmers and workers will come together marking the beginning of a new era and offering a serious challenge to the regime of exploitation”. He added that the SKM would soon take a decision on support to the trade unions’ call for protest in February next year.
“Our enemy is one, our fight is same. Soon we will have one demand charter and get our democratic demands met,” he said.
Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra central committee member Shyambir Shukla said the new labour codes had further weakened the position of the workers and taken away their rights, including the right to strike. He added that the workers were akin to “orphans” with none of the political parties coming out in their support. “Still many political parties are supporting the farmers, but none supports the workers,” said Mr. Shukla, making a call for more “Mazdoor-Kisan Panchayats” across the country.