On May 27, US President Trump publicly declared: “We have informed both India and China that the US is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute”.
The declaration of the US President signals the intent of the US to try to utilize the ongoing border clashes between India and China to advance its own interests in this region. This poses great danger to both India and China, and to peace in Asia. It must be resolutely opposed by the people of India, China, and all other countries of this region.
An important example of resistance to US imperialist pressure and blackmail
On May 24, an Iranian oil tanker sailed into Venezuelan waters, escorted by Venezuelan naval ships. It was carrying 1.5 million barrels of oil for Venezuela’s oil refineries. Four more oil tankers from Iran are scheduled to arrive there soon.
Under the pressure of widespread protests of workers, at least three states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have withdrawn their order to extend daily working hours in industrial units from 8 hours to 12 hours and the working week from 48 hours to 72 hours.
Lakhs of people had hit the streets. The lack of money and jobs had forced them to set out on foot. On the borders of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh there was a traffic jam of fifty kilometres in which there were trucks carrying only labourers and their families. There were a large number of workers’ families who had still stayed behind patiently, their hopes on the Indian Railways.
Workers of KEM Hospital, Mumbai held a protest dharna at the hospital premises on May 26, from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They were protesting against the death of a fellow worker two days ago, due to callousness of the hospital authorities.
Doctors and nurses staged a silent but powerful protest on May 17, against the decree of the Belgian government to use untrained nursing staff in health care services.
During a visit of the Belgian Prime Minister Ms Sophie Wilmès to the Saint Peter hospital in Brussels, doctors and nurses lined up in rows on either side of the hospital entrance and each of them turned their back on her as her car approached the hospital entrance. This silent but very forceful protest has been widely publicised.
Acceleration of Privatisation and Concentration of Capital
Prime Minister Modi, while announcing a Rs. 20 crore package on 12th May, gave a call for “Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” or Self-Reliant India Movement. By the time all the details of the package were announced, the actual meaning of this slogan became clear. It means that workers, peasants and small enterprises must fend for themselves, without expecting any help from the Central Government, which will only take care of big business interests, Indian and foreign.
Workers from different sectors all over the country have organised dharnas, demonstrations and other protest actions, to express their strong opposition to the pro-capitalist amendments in labour laws and the all-sided attacks on the rights of the working class, that the government is trying to implement, using the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
I am writing in response to the article entitled `Central Trade Unions to Fight Back Attempts of Draconian Changes in Labour Laws' carried in the June 1-15, 2020 section of the MEL. I am delighted to know that there will be a nationwide protest on 22nd May 2020 and that there has been a joint press statement by the Central Trade Unions dated 15th May 2020. I would like to summarize the grim situation as follows:
On May 22, doctors and health workers treating COVID-19 patients across the country protested against the revised quarantine guidelines issued by the Centre and the health departments of some states. It may be recalled that on May 15, the health ministry changed the quarantine rules for healthcare workers working in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients, to state that the health workers should be quarantined only in case of “high risk exposure” or if a worker reported symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. According to the old guidelines, all workers were advised a 14-day quarantine after 14 days’ COVID-19 duty.
Nearly 550 health and sanitation workers employed on contract by the APCRDA (AP Capital Region Development Authority) in the Amaravati capital region of Andhra Pradesh held protest demonstrations on May 22. They are demanding payment of wages due to them for the last 4 months.
On 15th May, Finance Minister Sitharaman announced a “Rupees 1,50,000 crore package” and various policy changes in the name of helping agricultural growth. Prime Minister Modi claimed that it would boost the incomes of peasants. A close examination of these measures shows that they do not address the dire need of peasants for immediate relief at this time. On the contrary, the financial package and the policy reforms are both aimed at expanding the space for capitalist companies to increase their loot of the peasants.
The capitalist class is using the state of emergency declared by the Central government in the name of the Coronavirus pandemic to unleash an unprecedented onslaught on our rights.
India is confronted with a disaster of massive proportions. Crores of workers have lost their jobs, their source of livelihood as a result of the declaration of country wide lockdown which is about to complete two months. Crores of hungry, unemployed workers, deprived of a roof over their heads, are marching towards their villages thousands of miles away, through fields, forests, rail tracks and highways. Hundreds of men, women and children have died on the way, as a result of hunger, exhaustion or in accidents.
Joint Press Statement by Central Trade Unions released on 15th May 2020
The joint platform of Central Trade Unions in their meeting held on 14th May 2020 took note of the critical situation for the working people in the country during the Lock down period and decided to enhance united actions to meet the challenge.