May Day 2012 was marked by militant demonstrations, rallies and meetings in all the cities and towns of our vast country. The Communist Ghadar Party of India gave a stirring call to the workers on the eve of May Day to fight for the universal rights of all workers.
At every demonstration and meeting, leaders of the working class condemned the anti-working class program of the Central and State governments; they expressed their resolve to step up their united resistance to the capitalist program of globalisation through privatisation and liberalization and to come forward with the solution – the alternative to the existing political system and the economic program of liberalisation and privatisation. The CGPI had elaborated in its call that in order to reorient the economy, we need to take political power in our hands. The speeches of the Party comrades, at various meetings reverberated with this call. The leaders of the organisations of the working class hailed the unity of all organizations of workers as manifested in the February 28 All India General Strike and vowed to further consolidate this unity to achieve our final goal. Here, we report on a few of these actions across the country.
May Day in Delhi
The activists of the Communist Ghadar Party of India celebrated May Day on May 1st 2012 first thing in the morning at the central office of the Party in Delhi.
The programme began with a veteran woman comrade of the Party unfurling the Party flag, saluting the martyrs of May Day and raising the slogan of Inquilab Zindabad!
Many slogans were raised repeatedly - Lal salam to the martyrs of May Day! Lal salam to the martyrs of Chicago! We are the masters of Hindostan, we are the workers, peasants, women and youth! Those who produce the wealth for the country should become her masters! Organise, become the rulers and transform society! Down with capitalism and the rule of the capitalist class! Unite with the aim of establishing the rule of the workers and peasants.
Many comreds spoke on the occasion. They pointed out that May Day 2012 was being marked when the working class is fighting for its rights and the contradictions between capital and labour are becoming very sharp, not just in India but all over the world. Hundreds of people are out on the streets in struggle in the US, China and other countries.One of the speakers reminded the listeners of Karl Marx’s analysis that showed that it is the working class that will dig the grave of capitalism.We must be convinced of this, he said. All the workers should unite and come together around their common aim of wresting power from the capitalists and taking it in their own hands. This is the only solution for the workers and peasants.
First thing in the morning, the Lok Raj Samitis located in various workers’ colonies organized the commemoration of May Day. At the New Sanjay Camp basti situated in the Okhla Industrial Area, the Lok Raj Samiti marked the occasion with a lal salaam to the martyrs of May Day. Comrade Bijju, Secretary of the Delhi Council of the Lok Raj Sangathan addressed the gathering here.
Joint May Day meeting in Delhi
May Day was enthusiastically celebrated by various trade unions, federations and organisations of the workers on 1st May 2012. Thousands of workers from different areas of Delhi assembled at the Ram Lila ground and took out a march to the Town Hall in a procession.
There were bank and insurance employees, railway workers, hotel and restaurant workers, etc. who participated along with workers of various industrial areas of Delhi in the march, carrying their banners and flags. The Old Delhi area was reverberating with the slogans of 'Long live the May Day!'. The march went through the heavily populated area of Old Delhi and reached the Town Hall.
A public meeting was held at the Town Hall.
Addressing the meeting on behalf of the Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Com Santosh said that the workers throughout the world are fighting for their rights. They are coming out on the streets with their demands. Struggles are being waged in USA, China, Greece, Brazil, Japan, and other countries.
He talked about the spirit of struggle that was ablaze in workers of our country who are opposing the anti-worker steps being taken by the government of the capitalists. We can see this in the struggles of the workers in Gudgaon. The workers of Air India are in struggle for their just demands. In different parts of our country in different sectors, we can see workers raising their demands and carrying on their struggle.
He said that problems of the working class cannot be resolved by calling on the working class to change the parties in power. It simply does not work! In the last 60 years we have been merely changing parties in power. Whichever parties make the government, they continue the program of the bourgeoisie. It is not the parties that we have to change but change the class is in power. The working class will have to take power in its own hands.
The working class will have to have its own program. Workers will have to build their unity around their demands. This is the age the working class. Our great teacher, Karl Marx has taught us that the proletarians are the grave diggers of the capitalist system, so the working class will have to become ready to dig its grave.
Various other speakers talked of how the attacks on the rights of the toilers were taking place in this era of globalization through privatization and liberalization.
In Delhi, the capitalists are blatantly violating the labour laws and attacking the rights of the working class. Workers are being deprived of provident fund, pension, insurance, gratuity, bonus and social security. On a mass scale, workers are being employed on contract. Workers are being made to work for 10 to 12 hours. The government is intensifying the exploitation of the huge number of unemployed youth.
Speakers talked about the ruthless plunder of our country. The resources of the country are being handed over to Indian and foreign capitalists. Government is taxing the people heavily and filling the pockets of the capitalists. Instead of punishing the capitalists for plunging the country into economic crisis, the government is giving them thousands of crores of Rupees.
On May Day, toilers are uniting and rising up so that the united force of the trade unions and the toiling people defeat the anti-worker policies of the government through a powerful resistance movement and intensify the struggle for the following demands:
- Concrete steps to halt rising prices. Implementation of a universal public distribution system. A ban on the futures and derivative trading and on speculation.
- Strict implementation of the labour laws and exemplary punishments to those who violate them.
- Ensure social security for all workers.
- Halt to the privatization of public sector institutions and services
- End the contract system, regularize the contract workers and ensure similar pay and benefits for similar work.
- Ensure minimum wages in Delhi at Rs. 12,000 per month
- Ensure safety at all work places
- Ensure equal wages for women and men workers
- Stop sexual harassment of women at work place and award strict punishments to those guilty of sexual harassment.
- Halt the privatization of Delhi Jal Board. Take back the privatization of Delhi Electricity Board.
Com J P Sharma of AIBEA, Com Anil Sharma of AIRF, Com S K Barma of BEFI and Com Raghunandan Prasad of NZIEA presided over the meeting.
Com Amarjeet Kaur of AITUC, Com Santosh Rai of AICCTU, Com Harish Tyagi of AIUTUC, Com Tapan Sen of CITU, Com R A Mittal of HMS, Com Satpal Sharma of TUCC and Com S K Dagar of UTUC addressed the meeting.
Chennai — Air India workers rally on May Day
Air India workers of Chennai held a militant rally on the occasion of May Day. Workers denounced the Air India management for its anti-worker attitude and denial of workers' rights and pledged to unitedly fight for their rights.
At 9.00 am on May Day leaders and activists belonging to Air India United Workers Union (AIUWU) gathered in front of the Airlines’ House at Meenambakkam and hoisted their union red flag. Union secretaries, Com.Thirugana Sambandam, Com.Suresh Kumar, Union leader Com.Thangaraj and many other activists spoke at this program. Following this, all workers participated in the May Day meeting organized by the Air India National Aviation Workers’ Union. In this meeting, Comrades K.Arumugam and P.Ramesh of Air India National Aviation Workers Union, Com. Thirugana Sambandam of Air India United Workers Union, Com. Anson of Ambedkar Air India Workers Welfare Union and many other activists spoke. They pointed to the hard labour and sacrifices carried out by the workers to build Air India to a massive organization. They also recalled the enormous efforts taken by workers in the past to regularize the services of casual workers and the hurdles they faced. They vehemently denounced the management for ignoring their just demands for permanent jobs and for carrying out anti worker activities. They took an oath on this for the May Day to further intensify their struggle for their jobs and realization of all their rights.
Com.Bhaskar of Makkalatchi Iyakkam (Lok Raj Sangathan) congratulated the organizers of this May Day meeting for bringing together all workers cutting across their respective Unions. It is the workers, from pilots to cabin crew, to the aircraft maintenance staff, to technicians, ground staff, and casual workers who have made Air India one of the largest airlines in the world today with enormous wealth, resources and operations potential. However, Air India has not paid the salaries of the pilots, cabin crew and its staff for the last several months. It has not regularized the services of casual workers who have toiled day and night, all their lives for the growth of Air India. The Management says it does not have enough money to pay for its staff and workers or honour its obligations. In 2007, Indian Airlines was making profits and was among the top ranking airlines in India. After its merger with Air India, ex-Aviation minister Praful Patel and ex-CMD of Air India - Arvind Jadhav, have worked hard to make this organization a loss-making one; it has now accumulated a loss of Rs.79,000 crores. The management and the government sabotaged Air India in order to help private airlines to make profits, and at the same time to create conditions that will serve as a prelude to privatising the company. All staff and workers of Air India must unite and fight to block the privatisation program of Air India, which is against the interest of the Indian people as well as that of the workers and staff of Air India, he said.
Why should the working class which produces all the wealth of this country, watch this country being destroyed, people's wealth being looted, and tolerate and suffer the exploitation of workers and peasants, he asked. Why cannot the workers and peasants who form the vast majority rule this country and lead it in a way that would benefit all the workers and peasants? Our workers have sufficient experience, knowledge and skills to rule this country and lead the society to progress. He called on the workers on this May Day to come forward and prepare to fight to establish their own rule.
The May Day meeting of Air India workers concluded with the determination to unite and fight for their demands and rights till they are won.
Chennai — Unorganized sector workers take May Day Oath
At 4.00 pm, on May Day, representatives of several organizations of the unorganized workers gathered at the Statue of Labour on Marina Beach, Chennai. Leaders and activists of Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam, Manual Workers Union, Pennurimai Iyakkam and Makkalatchi Iyakkam (Lok Raj Sangathan) spoke at the rally. This was the venue of the first May Day rally held in India which had been addressed by Comrade Singaravelu. Following the speeches, workers and activists took the May Day oath to carry forward the struggle of the May Day martyrs and to form a society free from exploitation and oppression.
Joint May Day Rally in Mumbai
Over a thousand people, carrying red flags and shouting slogans marched from Dadar to Matunga in central Mumbai, to celebrate May Day. They were railway workers, bank and insurance workers, college teachers, State Government employees, workers from unorganised sectors, etc. The rally culminated in a public meeting at the Central Railway Hall in Matunga.
Several leaders of the working class addressed the meeting, beginning with Comrade AD Golandaz, the Convenor of Trade unions Coordination Committee. Others who addressed the rally included Comrade Matthew of the Kamgar Ekta Chalwal, Com. Mahendra Singh, Secretary - CPM, Com Jairam Viswhakarma - AIUTUC, Com Vishwas Katkar - State government Employees Union, Com. Thackedath of the College Teachers Union - BUCTU, Com Bose of Northern Railway Mazdoor Union – NRMU and Com Nanal of the Insurance Employees Union – AIIEA.
The speakers were unanimous in condemning the intensification of the exploitation of workers in this period of economic crisis. Economic growth is slowing down. It was pointed out that the present crisis was severe as a result of the course of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation pursued by successive governments. While the government was admitting a slowdown in the economy, it was providing full support to the capitalists to further attack the rights of the workers. It was pointed out that even as the capitalists were closing down factories, they were not being affected, but the workers were losing their jobs. The government was giving big tax breaks to the industrialists which in fact meant shifting the burden on to the backs of the people. The Indian State is a totally parasitic state which exacts a huge tribute from society. The big banks and industrialists claim the lion’s share of the revenues of the government obtained from taxing the working people and very little is left for productive investment in the economy.
The speakers elaborated on the growing attacks on the workers, especially in response to any attempt by the workers to organise and protest unitedly. The Maharashtra government, which was trying to privatise the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB), was penalising electricity workers who had participated in the February 28th general strike by giving them a break in service. Similarly, in SEEPZ, 16 workers in a unit had been dismissed after their attempt to form a union and the labour department of the state had done nothing to defend the rights of these workers. The draconian, anti-worker legislation – Essential Services Maintenance Act, had been sent to the Governor of Maharashtra for signature, as part of the preparation by the state government to attack the struggle of workers of Maharashtra. The speakers condemned the increasing resort to contract labour in all sectors of the economy. They declared their resolve to fight for social security for the entire working class. They drew attention to the conditions of drought prevailing in the agricultural areas of nine districts of the state. They expressed their support to the peasants, who were fighting for water for irrigation, and were organising for their rights in various places.
The speakers pointed out that workers can lead the society. They are capable of taking up the demands of the peasantry and all the oppressed people. Workers are taking to the streets in the U.S., Europe. Latin America, and many other places against the growing attacks on their rights and against the widening gap between the minority rich and majority poor. They pointed out that Mumbai is a workers city; it is a city where the workers have fought heroically in the past, and we must be true to that tradition. They called for forging unity of the class against the capitalist offensive.
The representative of Kamgar Ekta Chalwal pointed out that the capitalist class and its governments are not going to secure the interests of the working class. Instead, they want to intensify the reforms - they want to change the labour laws, so that workers can be hired on contract. They want to ban strikes. They want to privatise the public sector to give public property at throwaway prices to the capitalist class. Nearly 100 years ago the workers of the Soviet Union showed the whole world that a new socialist society can be built without the capitalist class. We the workers of India can and must lead the peasantry and all the exploited and oppressed of our country in overthrowing capitalism and building socialism. We need to develop our own independent program as a first step. We have to challenge the capitalist class and its mantra that “there is no alternative”. The future belongs to the working class. We the working class of India will certainly usher in the new socialist society.
The meeting concluded on this militant note.
May Day Rallies - Guwahati
Thousands of workers participated in a militant May Day rally in Guwahati, Assam. The workers protested the anti working class policies of the Central and State governments. The Unions took out a rally from Lakhidhar Barua Kshetra demanding implementation of legislation that would secure the rights of workers to medical benefits, to pension etc.. Those participating in the rally included the CITU, AITUC, State Bank of India Staff Association (North East Circle), Bank Employees Federation (North East Chapter), Assam State Power Supply Mazdoor Union, and North East Oil Workers Coordination Committee.
May Day was marked by militant rallies, demonstrations and public meetings in Bengaluru.
Over two thousand workers marched from Town Hall to Freedom Park, where a public rally was held. The Rally was organized under the banner of the Trade Union Coordination Center (TUCC). The workers came from many unions across the city including Electronics City Employees’ Union, Jigani Workers’ Union and Peenya Industrial Area Workers’ Union. Leaders of CITU, AITUC and other trade union centers addressed the workers at the rally. The leaders pointed out that the conditions of the majority of workers was precarious. Their wages were low, they had no benefits, and their livelihood was extremely insecure. The speakers pointed out that increasing contractualisation was leading to job insecurity, while multinational corporations were allowed to function with complete disregard for the labour laws of the land. They pointed out that as a result of booming contractualisation, the share of labour in total production cost was dropping phenomenally, while the employees profit share was rising in inverse proportion.
Speakers pointed out that the anti working class character of the government was reflected in such policies as allocating a mere Rs 20 crore for the social security of “unorganized sector workers”. In contrast, RS 2000 crores was allocted to acquire land from farmers to be given away at throw away prices to a handful of industrialists. The speakers demanded increased wages and social security for workers keeping in mind the spiraling prices of essential commodities.
Speakers demanded that the government stop recruiting people on contract and the privatisation of the Public Sector Units. They demanded that the government implement the statutory Minimum Wages Act, and stop discrimination against women workers. One of the resolutions passed at the Rally was removing wage disparity between permanent and contract workers. The speakers demanded that a common minimum wage of Rs. 10,000 should be fixed across the board for all workers.
Members of various trade unions protested against corruption in ESI hospitals in Bengaluru on May Day
Meanwhile, on May Day, members of five trade unions from the unorganised sector picketed the ESI hospital in Indiranagar, Bangalore. The demonstrators forced their way into a construction site where an extension of the ESI Hospital is being built. They found that the contractor was paying different wages to men and women workers. A labourer couple from Andhra Pradesh told them that the man was being paid Rs. 250 a day while his wife was being paid Rs. 150 a day. The activists relented only after the site contractor assured them that all workers would be paid equal wages as per law.
The focus of the agitation was to highlight the departure of the State-run ESI group of hospitals from their welfare objectives. The sloganeering activists said that there was rampant corruption in ESI hospitals which are meant to cater to workers. The workers pointed out that hundreds of posts in ESI hospitals were left vacant or filled with contract employees, seriously affecting the quality of health services provided to the workers. Earlier, as the agitators went towards the protest venue, they forced their way into several construction sites where work was going on. “The world over, May Day is supposed to be a holiday for workers. We forced the construction sites to close down and declare a holiday,” said a worker.
Bank and Insurance workers, Anganwadi workers, Water carriers, BSNL workers and others marked May Day with a meeting at the Indo-German Conference Hall. The local members of Lok Raj Sangathan participated vigorously in this meeting.
A meeting, to salute the martyrs of May Day, was held under the leadership of the Brick Kiln Workers’ Union in Nohar, Hanumangadh District of Rajasthan, on May Day. The meeting was presided over by Com. Budhram.
Shamsher Ali, Maqbool, Niyamat Ali, Kamlesh and Ram Prasad were among those who addressed the meeting. Com. Bhanwar Lal of the Auto Drivers’ Union also addressed the meeting.
ON the occasion of May Day, trade unions and organisations of workers joined to take out a rally from Patrakar Bhavan in Nagpur. People participated in this rally in large numbers. The rally turned into a public meeting when it reached Circus Maidan near Yeshwant Stadium. Comrades of Kamgar Ekta Chalwal participated enthusiastically in this meeting.
Mohandas Naidu (AITUC), S.Q. Jhama (INTUC), Ashok Dagde (RSKMS), V.V. Aasai (CITU), Vidyasagar Chaudury (HMS), Balwant Mehta (TUCC), Shashikant Vaikar (AITUO) and several others addressed the meeting.
The workers of various industries of Ghaziabad, organized a dharna in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on the occasion of May Day, under the leadership of Hind Mazdoor Sabha. They raised their demands for minimum wages of Rs.15,000 per month and for provision of all essentials at affordable prices. The meeting was addressed by Com. Virender Singh Sirohi.