2017 – Struggles for rights

Workers across sectors, small and middle peasants, government employees, doctors, nurses and Aanganwadi workers were all out on the streets through the year in 2017. They protested against the rising attacks on their right to livelihood. They demanded that these attacks be halted and asserted their right to organise. Working people came out in large numbers against the demonetisation in November 2016 and against the GST introduced in July this year.

The Central government and state governments took various steps to intensify their anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-social offensive through the programme of privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation in the interests of the monopoly capitalists.

Over three lakh workers participated in the three-day mahapadav November 9-11, outside the parliament in New Delhi. Workers from almost all sectors of the economy — power plants, steel plants, road transport, defence, education, etc., were drawn to Delhi. Over one lakh women scheme workers - Aanganwadi workers, ASHA workers and Mid-day Meal workers from all the states of India participated in the dharna.

Anganwadi workers at Mahapadav

Anganwadi workers at the 3-day Mahapadav

Rail workers

Loco pilots on strike in Ghaziabad as part of an all India action by AILRSA

Bank Workers

Bank workers strike in Hyderabad as an All India action by bank workers that involved 10 lakh workers

The National Convention of Workers, in its declaration issued on 8th August, extended full solidarity to the agitating farmers in various parts of the country and to the Joint National Forum of Peasants’ Organisations.

A plan of action to step up the united struggle over the next few months culminating in an indefinite All India general strike was announced.

The Joint Action Committee of the All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) and the All India Guards Council (AIGC) organised a massive dharna at the Parliament to oppose the recommendations of Debroy committee that would pave the way for further privatisation of railways.

The All India Loco Running Staff Association (AILRSA) and the All India Guards Council (AIGC) went on a hunger strike in April 2017 to press for the long standing problems faced by the running staff and for implementation of 7th Pay Commission award. In August, the engine drivers held demonstrations in multiple regions. Thousands of loco drivers participated in the protest actions at all the crew lobbies. 20th November was observed as "All India Demands Day" and dharnas, rallies and public meetings were organised throughout the country.

Simultaneously, railway workers' organisations highlighted that privatisation of various maintenance tasks of railways had resulted in increased number of accidents and has created a serious dangers to rail travellers. Railway workers have joined hands with people's organisations like Lok Raj Sangathan to organise public meetings to clarify who is to blame for the compromise of passenger safety.

Ten lakh bank workers went on strike in February 2017 demanding, stringent action against wilful loan defaulters, recovery of bad loans and fixing responsibility of top bank executives. July 19th was declared as 'Save public sector banks day' by the Forum. More than 10 lakh bank workers again struck work again on 22 August 2017 to oppose the anti-people banking reforms, write-offs of corporate NPAs and increase in banking charges.

Mahindra workers demonstration


Mahindra workers in Uttarakhand on dharna

Support of Maruti workers struggle in Tamilnadu

Demonstration in support of the struggle of the
Maruti workers in Chennai, Tamilnadu

Ola and Uber taxi dharna

Ola and Uber taxi drivers on dharna

Workers of the automotive sector were in continuous struggle in defence of their rights and against the State’s blatant offensive of physical assaults, summary arrests and lock-outs of striking workers. Workers of two Mahindra plants in Uttarakhand and Pricol workers in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu won their demands for acquittal of baseless arrests after a resolute struggle that stretched over four months with workers using several forms of protest on the shop floor.

Aisin Automotive in Rohtak, Haryana was the scene of resolute protests by the workers despite the brutal response of the management to the formation by the workers of the Aisin Automotive Haryana Mazdoor Union.

Maruti workers organised several meetings and rallies against the life sentence awarded to 13 Maruti-Suzuki workers. In March more than 6000 workers held a rally and chanted slogans like “We will break the prison gates, we will release our comrades”, “Release the Maruti workers, withdraw your fraudulent judgment”. Representatives of 43 unions were present at the meeting and expressed their support for struggle. Rallies were organised in other states including as far as Tamilnadu in support of the demands of Maruti workers.

In February 2017, drivers of Ola and Uber taxi service companies struck work in Delhi against the move by these companies to restrict the earnings of the drivers in the interest of their dog-fight for a higher market share. A majority of the drivers worked closed to 20 hours a day to be able to take care of their families.

Workers of various government schemes organised repeated protests across several states demanding their right to be treated as workers and be given minimum wage of 18,000 per month and allowances. More than two lakh aanganwadi workers went on a strike in September 2017. In October 2017, aanganwadi workers in Punjab organised a gherao of the Chief Minister's residence in Patiala.

Peasant rally
Haryana Roadways workers on strike

Livelihood of peasants throughout India was under severe attack. The peasants highlighted their distress through protest actions for remunerative prices in Maharashtra, MP, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu and other parts of the country. Lakhs of peasants participated in these actions. The government unleashed brutal terror on peasants in MP when it opened fire on farmers agitating for their rights in Mandsaur and killed 6 farmers.

In April 2017, the united actions of the workers of Haryana Roadways forced the Haryana government to concede some of the demands of the workers. Government had to reinstate all 120 workers who were union activists expelled during the course of this struggle. Government also had to take back the new transport policy which had precipitated the strike.

In May 2017, 1.5 lakh state transport workers went on an indefinite strike in Tamilnadu for workers not being given their dues. In October 2017, bus services were completely paralysed in Maharashtra due to a five-day strike by the state transport workers who demanded better salaries.

Hundreds of Peasants organisations came together in an All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) and pressed for two main demands – that the government must procure all their produce at 1.5 times the cost of production and waive off their loans to liberate them from the massive debts they were forced under. AIKSCC organised Kisan Mukti Yatras in all parts of the country, which culminated in a massive two day rally at the Parliament on 20th November.

On November 20, 2017, government employees all over Rajasthan organised protest demonstrations and dharnas at their respective district headquarters, under the banner of the All Rajasthan State Employees Joint Committee in support of their 15-point charter of demands on the issues of contract system, privatisation, PPP model, and equal pay for similar work, regularisation of temporary workers, pension scheme, etc.

The people of Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan organised militant protests time and again through October-December 2017 demanding adequate personnel and equipment in Community Health Centres. At the same time, the doctors of the state government hospitals, under the leadership of the All Rajasthan Employed Doctors Union, kept up their agitation in support of their 33-point demands. Their demands included better facilities for doctors and patients in government hospitals. They struck work in November to press for their demands and had to face arrests and harassment under the draconian Rajasthan Essential Services Maintenance Act.

Rajasthan teachers and other concerned citizens opposed the move by the government to hand over 300 government schools, including some of the best, to private entities to operate under PPP model.

Guest teachers were in struggle to get fixed pay and benefits like maternity leave instead of working on day-to-day contracts. The 15,000 guest teachers in Delhi protested time and again in front of the Delhi Chief Minister’s office demanding permanent jobs.

Government employees and teachers staged demonstrations across the central region of Chennai and the State for the restoration of the old pension scheme and implementation of VII Pay Commission recommendations.

Kerala nurses agitation in Kerala

Kerala nurses agitation in Kerala

Govt hospital doctors on strike through out Rajasthan

Govt hospital doctors on strike through out Rajasthan

Textile merchants protest against GST in Surat

Textile merchants protest against GST in Surat

Thousands of nurses from private hospitals across Kerala struck work end of June, continuing the same till August. They agitated for their right to a minimum wage of Rs.20000 per month as recommended by a Committee appointed by the Supreme Court in November 2016.

Following the note-ban in November 2016, the Communist Ghadar Party of India distributed a pamphlet “On the Note Ban: Real Aims and False Claims” widely among the people. It clarified the real purpose of the ban, how it benefitted the monopoly capitalists. It exposed the lies of the government claims.

700 employees at the Salboni Mint, at Kolkata and thousands of workers employed in mints in Mysore, Nashik and Devas refused to submit to 12-hour shifts; they refused to work beyond 9 hours.

Lok Raj Sangathan organized a series of meetings on the anti-people note ban. A round table conference on 15th February on the theme "Is Demonetisation in the National Interest?" concluded that it was thoroughly anti-worker, anti-peasant, anti-social and anti-national. Several meetings were held to expose the real aims of the government.

On the anniversary of the note-ban in November 2017, there were protest actions throughout India. In Delhi the action was organised by seven communist parties. Activists and supporters of the parties participated in large numbers and carried banners saying “Stop the loot and plunder of our people!”, “Down with economic terrorism!”, “This is not democracy, this is rule of the monopoly capitalist class!”, “Down with the growing attacks on the livelihood of workers and peasants!”

The imposition of GST by the government was another major attack on the livelihood of workers and small businesses. Protests were organised in Gujarat of textile traders and diamond traders in which three lakh people took part. Subsequently, protests took place in all over India. Weavers went on strike for more than a week in Surat. Significant protests were registered in Tamilnadu, Telengana, Delhi-NCR, UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Bihar.


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struggles    workers    peasants    Dec 16-31 2017    Struggle for Rights    Rights     2017   

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