Workers Observed May Day
Tens of thousands of working people all over India celebrated May Day and pledged to intensify resistance to the pro-imperialist policies of Atal Govt. Slogans on this May Day underlined workers’ protest against disinvestments and privatisation, closure of industries and attack on trade union rights by means of Second Labour Commission.
In Ahmedabad, a colourful joint May Day rally was organized in Ahmedabad mainly by AICCTU and NTUI (New Trade Union Initiative), in which CITU, AITUC, HMKP and other workers’ organizations also took part. Contract labourers from Vadodara, forest workers and unorganized factory workers formed the main strength of the rally but those from organized sector also participated.
CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya was the chief guest of the programme. Apart from him, Party’s Gujarat Party Incharge Ranjan Ganguli, NTUI leader Ashim Roy, AICCTU leader Dasharath Singhali, CITU leader and CC member of CPI(M) Subodh Mehta, AITUC leader GK Parmar and other trade union leaders were leading the rally. The participants raised slogans: “US-UK imperialism, go back from Iraq!”, “Stop eviction of Adivasis from forest land”, “Down with communal fascism”, “Down with the American lackey Vajpayee govt.” etc. and “Make 21 May nationwide strike a success”.
The rally culminated in a mass meeting at Lal Darwaja. Addressing the rally Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya said: “On May day this year, the working class is facing, along with the all-round attack by liberalization, privatisation and globalisation, the question of occupation of Iraq by US-UK imperialism. Iraq had gained freedom from the British colonial rule and the independent Iraq nation has always been openly opposing the US imperialist policies. It is because of this that US-UK imperialism attacked Iraq in which lakhs of Iraqi children, women and old people got killed and maimed, destroyed the socio-economic structure of modern Iraq. India too had gained independence 56 years back from the British colonial rule, and today there is extreme American pressure over our sub-continent. US imperialism poses a grave danger to our sovereignty. On May Day, which is also the foundation day of Gujarat State, Narendra Modi government is shamelessly singing praises of so-called “Gujarat glory”, whereas the economic situation of this state is deteriorating day by day. Factories are being closed and apart from joblessness poverty and starvation deaths are on the rise. In particular, the northern and eastern belt of Gujarat is in the grip of drought for the fourth consecutive year and rural folk are fleeing their villages as there is neither grain nor fodder. Instead of conducting relief work the government is shamelessly spending crores of rupees on pompously projecting “Gujarat glory” and evicting Adivasis from their own homelands. Minorities, particularly their educated youth are being made target of oppression.”
He urged the working class of Gujarat, particularly the unorganized labourers to get organized and combat the rising imperialist threat and communal fascist government. NTUI leader Ashim Roy called upon the workers to make 21 May nationwide strike a thundering success. Dasharath Singhali, Subodh Mehta, GK Parmar etc. also addressed the rally.
In Delhi, the May Day rally started from Ramlila grounds and culminated into a mass meeting at Town Hall. Nearly a thousand people from AICCTU, CITU, AITUC, HMS, UTUC, UTUC(LS) and TUCC participated in it. DTC workers, railwaymen, porters, hotel employees and factory workers came in significant numbers. Apart from others, Com. NM Thomas, Vice President of AICCTU addressed the meeting.
In the industrial belt of Jharkhand, May Day was observed at almost all centres. Protest was voiced to the disinvestment policy and closure of industries, and minimum wages along with a central legislation was demanded for unorganised workers. Around 3000 working people participated in a rally held at Saria in Giridih district. Most significant was the programme at Ghatshila of Singhbhum district. Impressive rally and mass meeting was held at Sardangal of Dumka and at Nagar Utari of Garhwa it was held jointly by left and democratic forces. Meetings were also held at Chainpur of Palamu, Bundu, Angara and Kokar of Ranchi, Churchu, Mandu, Patratu, Ramgarh and Gola of Hazaribagh district, and Lohardaga. In Bokaro, May Day was celebrated in Ballydih, Simandih and Bermo, apart from at Sector 4 in the Bokaro Steel City.
In Diphu, the headquarters of the hill district of Karbi Anglong, massive mobilisation of several thousands of workers, including a large number of women from tea-tribes, mainly from unorganised sectors like construction and forest workers, gathered to celebrate May Day. The rally was held in the midst of terror and sectarian violence unleashed by armed outfit UPDS, who had announced to stop all political rallies and gathering. Transport has come to a standstill due to their terror tactics as they fired indiscriminately on train passengers injuring three people on 24 April. However, Karbi Anglong Workers’ Welfare Association defied all the threats and prohibitions to mobilise an impressive rally. Main speaker at the rally was Com. Swapan Mukherjee, AICCTU General Secretary. The meeting was presided over by Dilip Kiling. Famous writer and Karbi intellectual Rengbong Terang was the guest of honour. Leaders of Karbi Anglong Kisan Sabha, Karbi Anglong Rural Poor Association and Karbi Anglong Forest Grazing and Land Protection Committees also joined the mass meeting.
In Guwahati of Assam, May Day meeting was held jointly by AICCTU, CITU, AITUC and others. Comrade Subhash Sen addressed the rally on behalf of AICCTU. In Tamil Nadu, around 500 workers assembled to celebrate May Day at Neyveli. The meeting was held in front of Thermal Power Station-II. AICCTU leaders R Ravichandran and Selvaraj addressed the workers.
In Bihar, CPI(ML) observed May Day by launching a campaign to recruit all agrarian labourers into Khet Mazdoor Sabha. The campaign with a target to recruit 10 lakh members has been started in all the districts simultaneously and it will be conducted extensively as well as intensively until 15 June. From senior party leaders to the grassroots cadres at village level, all are involved in this campaign.
Reports of observing May Day also came from South Rajasthan districts and Jhunjhnu, and also from a number of centres of UP, particularly Banaras and Kanpur. In Pondicherry, Port Blair (Andaman), Peeniya industrial center of Bangalore, AICCTU vigorously celebrated May Day and brought out marches.
The world’s largest May Day demonstration took place in Sao Paulo’s Campo de Bagatelle Square in Brazil. It was participated in by around 12 lakh workers. In Cuba a million people participated in May Day rally and a large rally was brought out in Venezuela. Impressive rallies were brought out in other countries of Latin America. In Europe, rallies in Austria, Spain, Turkey, Portugal, France and Germany. In Asia, May Day marches in Japan and South Korea and Philippines were participated by tens of thousands workers. In Jakarta of Indonesia, about 10,000 people marched on May Day in a colourful display of opposition to the anti-worker policies of the Indonesian government. In Australia, around 2000 people brought out May Day rally at Hyde Park in Sydney and 1000 marched in Perth.