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India: Join Sit-In Protest on 9-11 November in Delhi

We are United! We will Fight! Join the Fight to Protect our Rights
Join the Sit-in at Jantar Mantar 9-11 November 2017
Ill motivated economic policies destroying jobs and livelihoods

In the last year the BJP government has come out in the open to attack the working class. Its policies have destroyed jobs, livelihoods and lives. Government data confirms that lakhs of workers lost their jobs because of the government’s ill motivated note ban. Even more are losing their jobs because of the hurried and poorly planned introduction of the Goods and Services Tax.

The note ban resulted in a huge transfer of both incomes and assets from working people and small businesses to the large companies and the rich. It destroyed many small business including those who are self-employed not out of choice but because they do not find work. It marked an attack on that part of the economy that creates the most number of jobs and supports the largest number of livelihoods. With the introduction of the GST, on 1 July 2017, barely seven months of the note ban the attack on both jobs and the economy is complete. Both the note ban and the GST have not just destroyed jobs, they have undermined the base of the economy which is the individual self-employed and tiny and small enterprises. Having sucked out the cash that keeps the economy in motion the BJP government has clearly no plan for how to revive the economy other than to rely on big capital to take it forward.

The BJP government has failed to reverse the decline of the economy. In fact its policies have hastened the decline causing a sharp fall in consumer demand which is the most significant growth engine of our economy. While retail prices, especially of food products continue to rise, pushing up the cost of living of the working class there is a decline in the rate of growth and a decline in commodity prices. The decline in commodity prices, especially for agricultural produce, has wiped out the livelihoods in particular of the marginal and small peasants.

Institutionalising Attack on the Working Class

The BJP’s only answer to all of this is to open the economy further to market forces, allow foreign capital to make greater inroads into the economy, privatise the public sector and destroy the public sector banks and insurance companies that are the repository of the working class savings.

And keeping its promise to capital the BJP continues to institutionalise the attack, on the working class. In addition to what it has already done, it introduced the Labour Code Bill 2017 at the end of the monsoon session of parliament. In the name of simplifying law the Bill seeks to dismantle the system of minimum wages, takes away powers from state governments while abrogating them for the central government, obscuring the cost of living index, diluting the Equal Remuneration Act and providing for non-corporate disclosure and holidays for start-ups under the Bonus Act.
In the last month the BJP government has released draft amendments to the Contract Labour (Abolition and Regulation) Act 1970 which seeks to remove the responsibility of principal employers opening up the way for employment of contract labour without even the limited accountability that exists today and therefore no protection whatsoever.

The amendments carried out by the BJP state governments and what the BJP government at the centre is proposing: the BJP will deliver to capital what it has been seeking for the last twenty-five years which is the right to hire and fire at will. It will push contract workers and all other forms of irregular workers be they daily wage workers, casuals, temporaries, apprentices and such others beyond the pale of law and extinguish their protection won over the last hundred years of working class struggle.

Going with this, there is a comprehensive attack on rural workers. There has been a substantial reduction, in real terms, on government spending on social security and social protection during the 3+ years of the BJP government. There is a persistent effort to replace the public distribution system with cash transfers and the already rundown public health system with private insurance. The MGNREGA is under attack as are all other social security and social protection programmes including the anganwadi programme and the national rural health mission. This has not just eroded wages of agricultural and other rural workers it has also undermined the livelihoods of the over 1 crore “honorarium workers”. As a result rural workers are being squeezed from both ends, with the destruction of their livelihoods in the country side and a growing attack on workers’ rights in towns and cities to which they migrate to looking for jobs.

Attack on Democratic Rights to Divide the Working Class

The attack is not restricted to the working class alone. The BJP has from the start of its time in government attacked democratic rights in order to create an environment of homogeneity around its notion of majoritarian Hindutva. For the BJP this helps divide the working class and the rest of society. It has sought to create an anti-Islamic spectre by violently supressing the democratic upsurge in the Kashmir valley, communalising the crisis of the Rohingya peoples and constantly warmongering with Pakistan. It has sharpened its attack on religious minorities especially those of the Islamic faith, on Dalits and on women. It has also sought to brutally put down all forms of dissent – be it from students, be it from rationalists and those promoting scientific thought in society and be it those advancing equality and social justice. The BJP government most vocally through Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to promote a view of nationalism wherein anyone who speaks against the BJP government’s politics is anti-national. While having won the complicity of just about all the corporate controlled media, the BJP is seeking to supress the freedom of the press and of free speech.
Workers Unite to Resist the Rise of the Right Globally

The attack of the BJP government is not in isolation. There is a rising right wing across the world especially in the advanced capitalist countries that combines both an attack on workers’ rights and on democratic rights across society. The BJP government is actively sought to act in tandem with imperialism in advancing its agenda and legitimise its attack on the rights of the working class in the name of “ease of doing business”.

Strengthening the unity between trade union organisations is the first necessary step in reversing this onslaught. It is in this spirit – the spirit of a united working class – that the IFTU and NTUI join the call of 11 central trade union organisations for the sit-in in Delhi on 9th, 10th and 11th November 2017.

Our unity must go beyond joint protests. Our unity must go beyond common minimum demands. The attack of the BJP and the onslaught of imperialism calls upon us to bring about the unity of the working class. A unity that brings together permanent and irregular workers, a unity that brings together men and women workers, a unity that brings together urban and rural workers, a unity that brings together workers and peasants. A unity that will bring together the entire working class irrespective of gender, caste, community, religion and region. It is with this resolve that we march together on the 11th November 2017 to join the sit-in and Demand:

An 8 hour workday
A Just Minimum Wage for All
Equal Wage for Equal Work
Safe and Secure Work
End of Contract Labour system
100 days of Work under NREGA
Union Rights for All

Indian Federation of Trade Unions — New Trade Union Initiative