India: Mass protest sits in for jobs, minimum wage

100,000 people stage a sit-in in New Delhi. Photo via Kavita Krishna/Twitter.
November 20, 2017

More than 100,000 people took part in a three-day sit-in outside the national parliament in New Delhi over November 9-11 against the “anti-worker, anti-farmer and anti-national policies” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, Inuth.com said November 13.

Ten national trade unions and many other workers’ organisations from across India took part to campaign for a 12-point workers’ rights charter.

TeleSUR English said on November 9 that the workers demanded wage rises; price controls; an end to the labour-contracting system; an end to privatisation infiltration of foreign capital; and welfare cuts.

The article said the protest, which was coordinated by various communists parties, “marks an emerging sense of unity in what has previously been a fragmented trade-union movement in India”.  

Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association and a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, said: “Workers are making a reasonable demand …  They should get minimum wage. This protest is a warning to the government.”

Krishnan also tweeted: “Shame that media is blacking this out. Is this any less deserving of coverage than the anti-corruption gathering was?”

Labour minister Santosh Gangwar had called on the trade unions to drop the protests and said the government was committed to labour reforms. But Inuth.com reported that unions said they had no choice but to stage the sit-in as the ministerial panel headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley had not discussed the 12-point charter for more than two years.

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