Rich tributes were paid to the Chicago Martyrs by the leaders of Low Paid Employees Federation (LPEF) at the May Day rally in Srinagar, in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
“The martyrs laid down their lives for the genuine rights of the labour class. The workers in Kashmir will continue to fight for the implementation of labour laws in the state.
Protest demonstrations were held in all the district headquarters of the Kashmir valley in which thousands of labourers participated”.
A large number of workers drawn from different parts of Kashmir Valley, representing various Government departments and corporations, joined the rally.
They demanded an immediate halt on rising prices and implementation of the 6th Pay Commission report.
The other demands highlighted by them included:
- grant of Rs 500 as Medical Allowance
- increase of retirement age to 60 years
- regularisation of daily wagers, ‘work-charge’ and anganwari workers
- reducing disparities in HRA and House Rent Allowance
- helpers be designated as per the work discharged by them
- regularisation of ReTs [education volunteer teachers]
- transfer of G P Fund to new districts
- release of wages in favour of need based daily wagers
- Deputation allowance to PDC workers
- and the entire work-charge and daily wage service to count for retirement benefits.
The speakers opposed the interference of the WTO, IMF and World Bank in the affairs of country.
On the occasion of International Workers’ Day, the trade and labour organizations held many gatherings and rallies across the city demanding implementation of the Labour Laws.
Hundreds of workers from around two dozen unions, under the single banner of the JK Co-ordination Committee of Trades Union (JKCCTU), held a massive protest demonstration against the state governments and respective organizations for not implementing the labour laws.
The agitated workers, holding red flags and banners in their hands, stressed the need for unity among the working class so that they can effectively fight for their rights.
The workers marched towards the city centre of Lal Chowk and demonstrated at the Press Enclave. The workers shouted slogans demanding justice for the working class and the implementation of Labour Laws.
Addressing the workers, the state president of the JKCCTU, Muhammad Maqbool, said: “The government should stop the contract system of employment and regularize the contractual and casual workers”.
He said the workers and other labourers had many expectations from the sixth pay commission but an average worker continues to suffer under spiralling inflation rates. “It’s only the top officials who will get benefited from the 300% hike in their salaries,” he lamented.
He further demanded that the percentage of the general provident fund be raised to 12 % and the right to strike work should be made a constitutional right.
Criticizing the privatization and outsourcing of work, Muhammad Maqbool said the majority of the people belonging to the working class and the poor and the policies of privatisation and ‘contractualism’ have not provided any benefits and have proved to be anti-worker.
The workers vowed to fight the ‘neo-liberal’ polices of the government. They said the economic policies of the government were dictated and directed by the some capitalist regimes, the IMF and WTO, causing hike in prices of essential commodities. He urged the workers to get united and fight the anti-labour polices of the government.
The president of the union said that the purpose of holding today’s demonstration is to give a clear message to the state government that, according to the dictates of the IMF, World Bank and WTO, the government cannot exploit the working class. If they do, the working class will resist!
The SRTC union (State Road Transport Corporation) president, Shakeel Ahmad Kuchay, when speaking at a May Day rally said: “Neither the government nor private firms are bothered about labour laws and they are violating them with ease; the labour department is watching it as a mute spectator.
“The police action against the anganwari workers and education volunteer teachers are a few examples of how the voice of the exploited class is being crushed through force. But the time will come, when the government and private firms will fully implement the labour laws in the state,” Shakeel said.
Rallies and meetings mark May Day celebrations.
On the occasion of World Labour Day, various political and non political associations/organizations held meetings, seminars, conferences and rallies in Jammu [IOK].
Rich homage was paid to the martyrs of Chicago who sacrificed for the cause of the working class and two minutes silence was also observed by the participants.
The leaders of various trades union put forth various demands, including:
- an increase of daily rates of the daily rated and temporary (casually paid) workers
- enhancement of retirement age
- granting of grade and designation to the works performed by the workers in the departments like sericulture, floriculture and horticulture
- regularization of Physical Education Teachers
- financial assistance and benefits of SRO 43 to the helpers and trade men
- removal of pay anomalies in other departments
Concerning the public sector workers, the members also demanded:
- revival of sick units
- provision of workers provident fund and MISC act along with pension schemes extended to the public sector units
- conversion of Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) the DA allowance
- merger of 50 % of COLA/DA with the basic pay
- release of pending instalments of COLA/DA
- regularization of daily wagers
Medical Representatives Association: May Day was observed as Labour Day by Jammu Medical Representatives Association (JMRA)
Building Construction Workers Union: In connection with observance of May Day, a meeting was organised by Building Construction Workers Union, in which the martyrs of Chicago were remembered. The meeting was addressed by R R Bangroo, president of the Union and S Harbachan Singh, its chairman.
Hotel Employees Union: The Union also observed the May Day today. It also highlighted the problems of the unorganized sector and took a pledge to work for the rights of working class.
Labour Union Poonch: On the occasion of May Day a meeting was organised by Labour Union Poonch under the chairmanship of its president Ghulam Mohammed Jafri in which the problems of working class were highlighted. It also paid homage to martyrs of Chicago.
Kishtwar - Jammu
Those who participated in the rally included, the NHPC Workers Union, NHPC Workers Union Pakal Dul HE project, NHPC workers Union Bursar He Project, Dehati Labour Union, Anganwari Workers Union, Contractors Union and All Artisans Workers Union and others.
Government victimization and police repression against workers were condemned and a demand for the implementation of labour laws to ensure democratic trade union rights to workers were made.
Various speakers expressed concern over the callous attitude adopted by the government towards the labouring class and stated that government has no policy to protect the rights of labour class working in private factories in the state.
Strike action by public sector workers in Srinagar, 5 and 6 May. A number of workers, including leaders of trades union, have been arrested, Further reports to follow.
(compiled from various press reports in IOK)