The Workers movement all over the country is faced with savage attacks by the capitalist class on their right to organise themselves into unions.
The State machinery, including the governments at the Center and in the states, and the courts, are working at the behest of the capitalist class to crush workers trying to organise themselves in defence of their rights. Workers unions are being declared illegal, and trade union organisers are being jailed on false charges for years on end.
Press conference in Jharkhand to protest against banning of trade unions (file photo)
The Mazdoor Sangathan Samiti, a trade union in Jharkhand which has been organising workers since 1985, was banned by the Jharkhand government on 21stDecember 2017 under the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1908 (CLA). The Union was fighting for the rights of coal miners, workers in thermal power plants, factory workers, doli workers and landless agricultural workers. All the offices of the union in different towns of the state were shut down, its bank account frozen, and even the hospital run by the union that provided free medical care for workers has been ordered closed. Eighteen leaders of the Union have been incarcerated in the jails. The latest to be arrested under the CLA and the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) were its Secretary and Organising secretary, who were arrested on 31st May 2018.
Apart from the Mazdoor Sangathan Samiti, many other workers organisations have been banned in the state, including Mazdoor Ekta Sangh, Madhuban, Mazdoor Ekta Manch, Bokaro, Ulgulan Mazdoor Manch, Ranchi; and Mazdoor Ekta Sangha, Bokaro Thermal.
The government of Jharkhand has been going ahead full steam on the course of handing over the land and mineral resources of the state, as well as public sector companies such as Bokaro Thermal to the biggest Indian and foreign monopolies. Workers’ organisations have been exposing and opposing this program. These organisations are being banned to smash the opposition of workers to this anti worker, anti-social program.
The course of globalization through liberalization and privatization, pursued by the Indian bourgeoisie for the past 25 years, has been accompanied by increasing attacks on the livelihood and rights of workers. It has met with mounting opposition from workers all over the country. Despite all out efforts of the bourgeoisie and their governments to prevent workers from organising themselves into unions and fighting for their rights, workers have not given up their struggle. In these conditions, the bourgeoisie has utilized the state machinery to smash the workers unions and target the main organisers. It has declared that all those opposing its course for the economy are “anti-national” and “anti-development”. To justify its attacks on trade unions and worker organisers it carries out massive propaganda that they are “sympathetic to Maoism”.
148 workers from Maruthi Suzuki, Manesar were tortured in jail for more than 4 years, on concocted charges. The Additional Sessions Court was forced to release 135 of these workers, as the charges against them were baseless. However, the same court sentenced 13 workers, including 12 union organisers, to life imprisonment.
Eight union organisers of Pricol, Coimbatore were given double life sentence. Later on, after several years in jail, 6 of them were acquitted by the High Court. However, the High Court upheld the sentence for two of the workers, even though there was no evidence against them. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal by these two workers without even a hearing, while it has upheld the appeal of the Pricol Managament against the decision of the Madras High Court to release 6 workers.
There are dozens of cases where workers are facing jail sentences for fighting for their rights. It has become extremely difficult for workers to organise themselves into unions of their choice. In the name of “ease of doing business”, the Central and state governments are amending the Industrial Relations Act, Factories Act, Contract Labour Act, Trade Unions Act, and other such acts to attack whatever rights workers have had in the past.
All communists, all organisers of the working class need to unitedly fight the attack on the workers movement.