The Working Class, Farmers and Students come together in Defence of Democracy

January 8, 2020

Today’s General Strike was a countrywide strike that was different from every other – it brought together in the tens of millions not just workers but farmers, students, non-working people, both young and old, locals and migrants, from every walk of life, practicing different forms of religions or none at all, from every community and caste group, speaking every language of this republic and in every state across the country. As workers struck work gathering at town squares and city centres, small farmers and rural workers too came off their fields gathering in their villages and university students, with no parallel, brought their campuses to a standstill. This country has indeed spoken and has spoken against the Bharatiya Janata Party government in one voice and unequivocally. The workers of this country, and its youth, will not allow the Minimum Wage to be reduced, they will not accept longer working hours, will not accept the undermining of the provident fund and health care benefits under employee state insurance. We understand that there is no social security on offer for informal sector workers under the Social Security Code and we have said loud and clear that we will not be fooled by the slogan of universality when everything on the offer is only a lame promise. We shall not allow our right to freedom association to be taken away and we will fight to ensure that we can join and form unions of choice. We will fight to ensure a safe workplace and a safe university just as we will ensure that we have a workplace and a society that is free from all forms of harassment and discrimination.

And we have said more: we as a people will not be divided by religion, or community, or caste, or creed, or language, or region, or gender and shall not fall prey to bigotry and hatred being advanced by the BJP and the RSS. We will defend what we won through our struggle for independence and over the last seven decades, we will resist the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register. We will continue to fight the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other draconian laws.  We will defend the right of the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir to Article 370 of our constitution and the right, of the peoples of the north eastern states and the rest of the country, to the provisions of Article 371 and its addendum clauses as the core value of plurality and federalism that brings us vastly heterogeneous peoples into this country called India.  We will strive for a fair economy, a just society and a democratic polity.

The New Trade Union Initiative celebrates the power of all sections of the working class, farmers and students and young people, and everyone else in advancing the peoples struggle today. We above all salute the courage of irregular, contract, ‘honorary’, and daily wage workers mostly in unsafe and insecure jobs and students, faced today with draconian university administrations, who risked so much in joining the action. Many across the country were restrained, even arrested and their names may well come up in future police reports for acts they never committed by a government that believes that it can falsify public records against the people who stand up to the BJP’s agenda.

Today’s action marks the culmination of six months of mobilisation that began with the opposition to the legislating of the Wage Code in July 2019. The mobilisation over the last month has been unprecedented. Going forward from here the working class movement bears a special responsibility in advancing the defence of our democracy as cardinal to its fight for working people’s rights and to ensure that it is sustained until we can bring gains to working people and all of society.

Gautam Mody
General Secretary

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