Turn 2023 into a Year of Waves of Militant Struggles! - AICCTU

Intensify the Battle Against Rising Unemployment, Drastic Decline in Wages, Privatisation, Monetisation, Codes of Slavery and Draconian Laws!

Defeat the Devastating Modi led BJP Regime in the 2024 elections!

Save Democracy and Save the Country!

May Day in 2023 marks the completion of a century of the first May Day in India, after 37 years of the sacrifice of Chicago workers in 1886. The first May Day flag was hoisted by Comrade Singaravelar at Marina Beach in Chennai on May Day 1923. May Day marks the day of sacrifice of the working class to secure 8 – hour work day (1886). The day became the day of the working class of the whole world because it was a day of declaration of war by workers for 8-hour work day which was subsequently won. But, this May Day marks the reversal of the hard won rights of the workers. In fact, the Prime Minister Modi wanted to give the anti-labour, Codes of Slavery, as a “gift” for the May Day 2023 by enforcing it from 1st April. But, because of ensuing general elections to the Lok Sabha in 2024, it was postponed fearing backlash of the working people and trade unions.

The instances of betrayals and attacks of Modi government on the working class are countless. In the name of Corona, the BJP passed all the four anti-labour legislations in the floors of Parliament without any worthwhile debate or discussions. It’s waiting for an opportune moment for its implementation throughout the country by a single stroke of a pen. In the meanwhile, all BJP ruled states have already started implementing its various aspects, including 12-hour work, women working in night shifts, removing vast majority of industries from the purview of any labour law by introducing a threshold level of workers strength of 300, etc. Even non-BJP ruled states are no exception. Most of them have already notified the central rules by the Modi government barring a few.

The BJP led union government has already accorded statutory status to National Floor level Wages which is around Rs 5000 per month. Now, they want to depress wages by making minimum wages as a non-mandatory category as and when the Codes are implemented. Even the states led by the opposition like DMK have introduced bills to exempt some industries or group of industries from implementation of the Factories Act, in order to comply with the demand of corporate companies. The budget allocation for MNREGA scheme is being drastically slashed to push rural workers to rush to urban areas so as to facilitate availability of cheapest labour in abundance for the corporate class.

The well-known economist Mr Jean Dreze makes startling observations regarding drastic decline in the growth of real wages from 2014-15 to 2021-22. He says, “The growth rate of real wages between 2014-15 and 2021-22 was below one percent per year across the board: more precisely 0.9 percent, 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent for agricultural labour, construction workers and non-agricultural labour respectively”. In several states, real wages have actually declined in states like Haryana, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu in the period mentioned above. In addition to employment, real wage is a major issue for a vast majority of workers. The under-employment, reduced wages, wage cuts, retrenchment, Lockouts, lay-offs and closures have become the order of the day. In some cases, they are used as a tactics to force workers to abstain from any protest. In spite of a rapid economic growth, the sluggish rate of growth of wages is a great concern and it only means that the disparity and poverty are growing phenomenally.

The gender based wage gap is increasing at an alarming rate. Women are being paid much lesser for the same and similar kind of work. Women are forced to work in night shifts without putting proper safety mechanisms in place, thus making them prone to sexual harassment and violence. The RSS proposed “constitution”, Manu Smriti, is asking women to confine to four walls of the houses. De-feminisation of workforce is being facilitated to take place at a rapid speed.

Restoration of Old Pension Scheme, basically a third benefit, is a major demand of workers of central and state governments. Whereas the Modi government is trying to scuttle the rising struggles of workers by enhancing the level of pension in New Pension Scheme, which is basically contributory in nature. The pension under EPS has not crossed Rs 1000, in most cases, in spite of relentless campaign and struggle by pensioners and trade unions.

The Modi government is aggressively selling all assets and properties of the government and the public sector to its corporate friends in the name of profit making. Even the infrastructures like roads, ports and airports are not spared in the name of monetisation. The colossus network of railways is being divided and sold out to the corporates, right from railway schools, hospitals to trains, tracks and stations. Modi government is on a selling spree.

The Modi government is evasive of its responsibilities while making social security, a mandatory duty of the industrialists and the government, an insurance scheme. In the name of providing social security benefits to unorganised workers, the Modi government is only acting as an insurance agent while loudly crying that the ‘business is not the business of the government’. Welfare boards under various acts, including construction labour board, are being dismantled systematically. The social security schemes are being replaced by the mirage, e-shram, which offers nothing more than a death benefit of two lakhs and a permanent disability benefit of one lakh. e-shram is being pushed only to drastically cut down whatever meagre benefits hitherto offered by the welfare boards.

The Modi’s vision for 2047 is to create a workforce similar to gig and platform workers who are desperate and frustrated. This is a class of workers who are not entitled to get any legal protection like job security, wage security and social security from their employers. At best, they can buy an insurance scheme as per Social Security Code. This is the class of workforce Modi is dreaming about. After India assuming the presidency of G20, a working group has been formed to work on developing a workforce like gig and platform workers and on the sustainability of funds for their social security schemes. Industrial Training Institutes are being made as training centres for corporate companies. The funding and training modules are being synchronised with corporate needs. The teachers of ITIs are proposed to be trained by the same corporate companies. Such is the corporate loyalty of Modi, BJP and the RSS.

By making workers desperate and frustrated, the Modi government is looking for an environment and a workforce from among whom it can recruit foot soldiers for their hate army. “Agnipath” is specifically designed to serve such a disastrous plan.

The Modi government’s model of development narrative of producing more jobs through more and more privatization and lakhs of crores of concessions and tax relief to corporates has only proved to be a big hoax and devastation. The country is facing highest rate of growth of unemployment and job-loss. A select few corporate houses led by Modi’s friends Adani and Ambani have amassed unprecedented wealth and have attained the status of the richest business houses in the world. This phenomenon is best exemplified by the fact that the biggest corporate empire owned by Adani family provides just around twenty thousand jobs. Hindenburg Report is an eye opener to the story of the way corporate houses are amassing wealth, particularly Adani. Adani is becoming richer and richer at the expense of people’s money, huge money, doled out by financial institutions like SBI and LIC.

The working class in the country is under multifaceted attack by the Modi government. The corporate stranglehold over the country is being tightened. The democracy, its values and its various institutions are being subverted. Even the judiciary is being brought into a network of the government. The BJP-RSS combine is bent upon sharpening communal polarization to feed its politics of hate. The RSS – BJP combine is leaving no stone unturned to foment communal hatred and venom, particularly targeting Muslims. The religious festivals are being used as theatres of Hindu majoritarian communal violence to harvest votes in favour of corporate, communal fascists. Even the plight of migrant workers is being used to foment communal, nationalist hate and violence. The latest instance is the fake video of attack on migrants in Tamil Nadu, systematically and conspiratorially promoted and circulated by the BJP. The Modi government is shedding crocodile tears at the plight of migrant workers who were forced to walk thousands of kilometres without food, water and transport and subjected to unimaginable miseries and cruelty by the very same government in the name of Lockdown.

The working class should resolve, in this May Day 2023, to decisively fight back such attacks of Modi government and its nefarious designs to divide and deceive the working people.

The working class must intensify its struggles manifold and simultaneously should build a strong and broader unity with other sections of toiling masses. Only the united struggles of the working class can reverse these attacks as was witnessed in the case of historic farmers’ movement which forced the despotic Modi regime to repeal three anti-farmer black laws. We call upon the working class to further intensify the ongoing movement against privatisation, contractualisation, unemployment, Labour Codes and accompanied draconian laws.

On this May Day 2023, the working class of the country should pledge to defeat Modi’s BJP, in 2024 general elections, which is the foremost enemy of the workers of the country and also to save democracy and our beloved motherland.

Let us resolve on this May Day to accomplish the task of overthrowing the anti-worker, anti-people, anti-national Modi led BJP government!

Long live May Day!