Workers, peasants strike in India

Issue 

Workers, peasants strike in India

Tens of thousands of Indian industrial workers not represented by trade unions went on a day-long strike on July 14 to press for a minimum wage act and job security. The strike was spearheaded by the radical Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU).

"It is a symbolic action to highlight the needs of the unorganised sector", said M.K. Pandhe, CITU general secretary. West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh were the states most affected.

The unorganised sector, mainly made up of small industrial units, employs some 60 million workers. The government says there are 27 million workers in the organised industrial sector.

"There is no law for them, no implementation of minimum wages for them and they enjoy no job security", Pandhe said of unorganised industrial labour.

Contract labourers in small industries, stone quarries, mines and the tobacco industry joined the strike, he said.

Meanwhile, angry farmers ransacked a factory belonging to a US company in the southern state of Karnataka on July 12 to protest against the presence of multinationals in the country, the Press Trust of India reported.

Farmers belonging to the Karnataka Rajya Ryotha Sangha, a powerful peasant union, stormed the partly completed seed-processing plant owned by a US multinational, Cargill Seeds, in Bellary, 425 kilometres north-west of Madras.

Last December, hundreds of farmers belonging to the union attacked the headquarters of Cargill Seeds in Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka. They were protesting against open US access to India's gene bank for plants.

The US Agency for International Development is paying nearly 60% of the project cost of a gene bank that was

established to help protect India's genetic plant resources. In return, US commercial firms have been guaranteed open access to Indian seeds and data.

Many Indian scientists, environmentalists and farm leaders argue that the government has sold out India's interests merely to receive US funding for the establishment of the gene bank.
[India News Network via Pegasus.]