Labour Protest: Patiala

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Day 258

Toll 564+

Patiala Labour Protest

Right from when the farmers protest began, there have been questions about the participation of labour in the protest. Given exigencies of survival, the need to earn daily wage, it is impossible for labour to be constantly present at the protest.

While land is the major theme of the Delhi protests, the landless do not have the same stake in land as farmers. Then there are the internal dynamics between farmers and labour – especially labour rates for paddy plantation on which this year the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, Kirti Kisan Union, BKU Ekta Ugraha and other unions extended full support and issued statements.

Yet, on the issue of Essential Commodities, upon the threat of corporate farming, the labour has extended support to the farmers protest. Over the last many weeks, seven labour unions in Panjab, have been rallying their people to come together and articulate all their concerns. The culmination of their efforts has resulted in the three day labour rally in Patiala – August 9, 10, and 11. BKU Ekta Ugrahan is arranging langar, doctors from Medical Practitioners Association Panjab is providing free health services.

The location is important given the multiple betrayal of the labour causes by the incumbent Congress government in Panjab. Patiala is CM Amarinder Singh’s home turf. That is why tomorrow August 11 the labour unions will march to Moti Mahal, the CM’s residence.

The labour is articulating the following concerns:

- Labour Codes: changes passed by the Central government last year, not yet implemented. The protest is against further privatisation of lands, resources, electricity.

- MNREGA: 17 lakh families in Panjab have MNREGA cards, but less than 7 thousand families got 100 days work. 2900 village panchayats out of around 13,000 did not offer a single day’s work. Around 56 per cent Labour did not get work for even a single day.

- Land to landless: though in effect, non-implementation of Land Ceiling Act has deprived land to landless. Long pending demand for 1250 square feet residential plots.

- Suicides: micro-finance companies loot labour and cause suicides, what is action against them? 17 per cent famers have lost land and are drowning under debt, committing suicides. Will government provide compensation and jobs to all families (labour and farmer) where the head of the family commits suicide owing to debt?

- PDS for all: right to food should be across the board, to anyone who cannot afford food.

On August 30, considering 31.9 per cent Dalit population in Panjab, CM Amarinder Singh is organising a rally to address the labour. The labour asks:

- 2017 promises: what happened to loan waiver, drug eradication, employment to youth promised last time? Once elected, the government conveniently forgot the labour/Dalits.

- CM/Deputy CM: in the run up to 2022 assembly elections BJP and Akalis are promising Dalit CM and Deputy CMs. Labour asks, we already have 34 MLAs, has that bettered our lot? Forget CMs and Dy CM, we have already have a Dalit President, has that bettered our lot?

With a clear view of their demands, the labour pledge support to the farmers protest. May other states too learn from this mobilization and their labour come out and articulate their demands. Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Zindabad!

Condolence: Last night, Mata Gurtej Kaur from village Bhundar, district Bathinda gave her life at the Patiala Mazdoor Morcha.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 at 12:39 pm and is filed under Punjab. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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