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Issue #1492      9 March 2011

India:

Two hundred thousand workers march

The working people of India represented by all the major Central Trade Unions (CTUs) and National Employees’ Federations assembled in the national capital on February 23. They were there to demand the Indian Parliament ensure urgent corrective policy measures by the government to mitigate the immense sufferings of the workers and the people owing to continuing rise in prices of the essential commodities, rampant violation of labour laws and attack on labour rights, rising unemployment, reckless contracting out, casualisation and outsourcing.

The CTUs demanded concrete action for the universalisation of social security benefits for the entire unorganised workforce without any restrictions on entitlements and allocation of adequate funds for the National Social Security Fund. The CTUs also urged the government to stop disinvestment of shares in the public sector.

In the memorandum to the Parliamentary Speaker, the CTUs stated that the government of India is ignoring the protests of the working people. On the contrary, they are relentlessly pursuing policies that accentuate price rises, namely deregulation of petroleum prices, continuing indulgence and patronisation to speculative trade in the commodity market and allowing a huge stockpile of food grains in the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to rot.

The CTUs called the government’s argument, that “increases in the earnings of the people are responsible for price rises” a cruel joke. They noted that owing to rising prices along with increasing job losses, unemployment and reduced earnings through wholesale contracting out and casualisation of employment, masses of the people are facing a sharp decline in per-capita availability of food grains and other basic commodities.

The unions also condemned flawed government policies that created such a distortion in the economy that despite an increase in GDP, workers’ share in value added in manufacturing has been consistently declining.  

Next article – 100th IWD – Against capitalism, against war

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