Past experience of the workers' movement shows that the employers or the management do not make concessions to the workers and employees out of their own free will. For the smallest concessions and benefits a struggle has to be carried out against the management. The laws and regulations that we have today are the result of the struggles and sacrifices of the toiling peoples.
The Apollo Hospital employees started their struggle in September 1998 with the following just demands :
1. The posts of Nursing Director and Manager should be abolished.
2. The recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission should be implemented and increments should be given accordingly.
3. The six hour working day should be implemented.
4. Promotion should be given by order of seniority and be time-bound.
5. Allowances should be given for night duty and intensive care.
6. Staff nurses be given free hostel facilities.
7. Overtime allowance to be given for work in extra time.
8. Quality of food to be improved in the canteen and hostel.
9. The period of probation should be abolished and the services of all employees should be regularised.
10. Efforts to break the struggle of employees should be stopped and the terminated/suspended employees be reinstated.
No labour laws are being adhered to in the Apollo Hospital. The management is not even implementing the regulations which are being applied in other Delhi Hospitals. The hospital management are running the institution on the basis of their whims, forgetting that the reputation of the hospital derives not from them but from the hard labour of the employees. The strike will remind them that everything grinds to a halt when the labour of the workers is withheld.
The workers began their struggle on the 5th September 1998 and went on strike on the 18th of September. After this a conspiracy has been hatched by the management, police, the administration and the law with the object of breaking the struggle. Time and again the employees have been arrested and threatened. The Court has issued stay orders against demonstrative activity within 300 metres of the hospital. Meanwhile the employees have illegally suspended/terminated 275 employees but no law or court has prevented this.
The capitalist class in the country controls the Parliament, the Educational and Medical institutions. We are constrained to sell our labour in order to live. If the bosses succeed in doing what they want they would purchase our labour-power on such terms as we would die of starvation. It is our unity and struggle which does not permit the employees from doing this. The individual worker is nothing in the face of the united power of the management. But the organised workers are a power before which the management is compelled to submit. It is through this power of organisation and struggle that we succeed in having a better price for our labour-power.
Strikes, dharnas and demonstrations are the weapons which we use against the employers in this struggle. This is why the entire class of employers is so hostile to these forms of struggle. When the collisions begin the employers oppose them with their entire strength by suspensions, terminations and threats. If this is unsuccessful then the police and administration intervene to end the struggles through lathis and bullets. The Courts play their role by issuing stay orders against dharnas and demonstrations. A totality of circumstances are created so that struggle becomes impossible. Only the united and determined struggle of the workers can make the management submit. It is in the process of struggle that the workers come to realise that they are opposed not only by their employers but also by the law, the police and the administration.
The employees have learnt this lesson in the struggle against the Apollo management. Comrades, our struggle is directed not only against our employers but also against their political power, their government and their handmaiden — the law. In this open warfare all employers have a common interest in the suppression and exploitation of workers and similarly all workers have a common interest to see that not only a better price is paid for their labour power but also that the socio-economic system which compels them to sell their labour-power to the capitalists is overturned by the revolution of the workers.
6th February 1999
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