Condemn the use of ESMA against the Nagpur Municipal Corporation transport workers
The indefinite strike launched by drivers and conductors of Nagpur city bus service followed a familiar pattern - a pattern which has become a norm across the country, irrespective of which party is in power in the state or in municipal corporation. The Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) was invoked and the strike was declared illegal!
Aapli Bus is a bus service which operates 123 routes across Nagpur Municipal Corporation area. It is the responsibility of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) to provide this service. About 1080 drivers & 1120 conductors work with four bus operators and two ticketing agencies providing this service to the citizens of Nagpur. Their representative union Bharatiya Kamgar Sena on 19th January 2018 submitted a memorandum to the municipal commissioner.
The memorandum contained important demands like the implementation of Minimum Wages Act, setting up of inquiry committees in all bus operator and conductor agencies, employment to all workers of ousted bus operator Vansh Nimay Infra-projects and recruitment of all employees of the bus operators on a permanent basis. A tripartite meeting between officials of the NMC’s transport, labour departments and office-bearers of the union too failed to break the deadlock. NMC commissioner insistently claimed to the press that minimum wages were being paid, but the union kept challenging it and demanding a separate enquiry to ascertain the same.
Workers tried their best to discuss the issue with NMC management but the NMC management kept stonewalling all their efforts. When they unitedly struck work, the bus operators approached the Industrial court which declared the strike illegal. Simultaneously, NMC invoked Essential Services Maintenance Act ( ESMA ) against the striking employees. NMC management also handed over the list of activists to the police so that they can be thrown in jail under ESMA. The bus operators immediately sacked 18 workers who were active in the struggle. Following the enforcement of ESMA, the union decided to call off the strike but decided to carry on their struggle by going on hunger strike.
Be it doctors from Chandigarh or Maharashtra, or nurses from Tamil Nadu, or transport workers from Thane, Mumbai or Tamil Nadu, or Municipal workers of various Municipalities, or school or university teachers, or loco drivers of the Indian Railways, workers are going through the same experience. Firstly they are deprived of their basic rights like Minimum wages; then their wage agreements are deliberately delayed; no attention is given to their demands for workplace related safety issues or complaints about their miserable working conditions. When they try to sort out the issues by discussions with relevant authorities, authorities keep stone walling. Finally with no alternative left, when workers go on strike, various courts and local / state / central government machinery swings into action and clamps down on their struggle using draconian acts like ESMA.
MEL condemns the attack on NMC transport workers by the industrial court and the NMC. Workers across all sections of the workforce need to unite and oppose these unjust attacks. They must demand repeal of this draconian act. They must declare that any political party justifying ESMA under any pretext is anti-working class. They must demand that welfare of workers delivering all essential services should be the primary responsibility of the respective government machinery, since proper welfare of these workers is the best way to ensure the highest quality of these essential services to people.
The Report to the Fifth Congress of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, presented by Comrade Lal Singh, General Secretary of the CGPI, on behalf of its Central Committee, was discussed and adopted by the Fifth Congress of the CGPI, held in November 2016. By decision of the Fifth Congress, this report has been edited for publication.
The first part of this pamphlet is an analysis of facts and phenomena to identify and expose the real aims behind the Note Ban. The second part is devoted to a critical appraisal of the government’s claims that it will reduce inequality, corruption and terrorism. The third part is what Communist Ghadar Party believes is the real solution to these problems and the immediate program of action towards that solution.
There is growing realisation among workers, peasants and other self-employed people that the program of liberalisation and privatisation only serves to enrich an exploiting minority at their expense. Mass resistance is growing to this anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-national program. However, the working class is being prevented from realizing its potential as the leader of all the exploited, and as the grave-digger of capitalism, by those in the communist movement who are spreading harmful illusions and compromising the class struggle.