With the construction sector emerging as one of the most profitable and expanding industry in the country, the plight of workers associated with it has deteriorated further as a consequence of anti-worker policies of liberalisation being followed by the governments. Ranchi , capital of Jharkhand houses more than thirty thousand such workers who were forced to migrate from their native villages owing to rising unemployment and starvation. This pathetic state of deprivation, forced upon by the government policies, has provided builders and contractors an opportunity to exploit cheap labour. With unlimited working hours, non-transparent payment of wages, non-implementation of labour laws, absence of medical facilities and no regular homestead their life has become miserable. Even exploitation of women workers is a regular phenomenon.
Jharkhand General Mazdoor Union has taken up the task of fighting for the rights and dignity of construction workers in Ranchi . It has demanded total implementation of the Construction Workers’ Act, formation of a judicial Board, I-cards and BPL Cards for all workers, equal wages for men and women workers besides other demands. A workers’ Court was organised on December 15, on the occasion of fifth anniversary of formation of Jharkhand state, in front of Commissioner’s office to highlight these demands. This court sent a nine-point demand charter to the Governor of the state. The seven-judge panel decided to meet all concerned officers who hadn’t turned up in the court, with the demand-charter, and to hold protest programmes if the demands were not considered by the authorities. Tarun Sarkar presented the case on behalf of the workers.
Earlier, Jharkhand General Mazdoor Union had also protested ouster of 63 workers of Bihar Foundry and Casting Ltd. in Ramgarh. An indefinite fast was organised at factory gates since Dec. 5 and this movement is now gaining momentum. Vicitimised workers have now decided to organised blockade of the factory. A rally was also held on Dec. 13 in support of the struggling workers.
Jharkhand General Mazdoor Union and the CPI(ML) jointly organized a militant demonstration at Koyla Bhavan, the Headquarters of the BCCL, Dhanbad. Hundreds of unorganized rural coal workers, who earn a living picking coal from stone or digging coal from the land to sell in the market, participated in the demonstration along with organised coal workers under the CMWU banner. Protestors raised slogans asserting ‘We are not Coal Thieves, But Coal Workers’, ‘Recognise Us as Coal Workers’, and the central slogan of this ‘Rozgar March’ was ‘Restart the Closed Mines Through Cooperatives of Unemployed Workers’. The militant demonstration gave the Jharkhand General Mazdoor Union a new political identity. Despite the fact that the Union is unrecognised, the massive participation and the popularity of the Rozgar March forced the authorities of the coal management to discuss a 9-point Charter with the delegation of Union leaders. This agitation generated new momentum in the otherwise stagnant working class movemnt of Dhanbad. Now the Union is planning a massive demo at the CIL in Kolkata on December 28.
A Secular March was organised in Patna on the occasion of 13th anniversary of Babri demolition, on 6 December, which was attended by many eminent citizens, artists, social and political activists, literary persons and political leaders. The march was led by CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, State Secretary Ramjatan Sharma, Ex-DGP of Bihar DP Ojha, literary figure Kishan Kaljayee, Arshad Azmal and others. The march started from Gandhi Maidan and culminated at Railway Station crossing into a mass meeting.
AISA held a march in Bhagalpur to oppose the visit of VHP’s Praveen Togadia on Dec. 9 at Bhagalpur , in which students showed black flags to him and burnt the effigy of communalism. VHP goons attacked AISA procession in presence of the police injuring many activists. The police remained a mute spectator revealing a tacit understanding with the goons. On Dec. 10, AISA observed a statewide ‘Black Day’ in protest against this attack.
The 7th State Conference of the CPI(ML) in Tamil Nadu Party held on 20 December called upon the working people of the state to intensify struggle to oust the anti-people Jayalalitha Govt. Preceding the delegates session, a Mass Convention for People’s Rights was held. The conference paid homage and floral tributes to the Comrade Vinod Mishra and the martyrs of the movement. The conference condoled the death of 42 people who had been killed in the stampede caused due to callousness in distribution of the relief materials for flood victims.
Along with AICCTU, AIALA and CPI(ML) leaders of the State, the General Secretary Comrade Dipankar also addressed the Conference. The delegates session was inaugurated by Comrade D.P. Bakshi, Politburo member of the Party. The State Secretary of the outgoing state committee, Comrade Balasundaram, placed the report. After a day long discussion and debate, the house adopted the report and elected a 21 member state committee, which in turn re-elected Comrade Balasundaram as the State Secretary.
Comrade Vinod Mishra was remembered all over the country by Party ranks and supporters on his Seventh death anniversary on 18 December. He led the Party through 1975 to 1998. All Party ranks reiterated the pledge to carry forward the party on the path shown by Comrade VM.
Cadre Conventions and mass meetings were held at Block and District levels all over Bihar , which pledged to strengthen the political assertion of the poor in Bihar . In Central Jail, Beur, jailed comrades also observed the day by holding a meeting, addressed by the Party’s Central Committee member Rameshwar Prasad and Mahesh Prasad. A campaign was launched on this day to induct one and a half million members in the All India Agricultural Labour Association and to intensify the movement of rural poor in the state as well.
Sankalp Divas was observed in different districts of Assam by organizing cadre meets at constituency level. In UP, the day was observed as a pledge day against the fascist forces desperately trying to raise heads in the state. In Delhi , A photo exhibition on VM’s life and a film show was organised in his memory where a video of one of his final interviews was screened, along with the films, ‘Ten Days that Shook the World’, another on the life of Che Guevara.
In Haryana, a Sankalp Sabha was organised in Jhajjar town at the Comrade Pramod Singh Gehlawat Sabhagar. Peasants and agrarian labourers participated in the meeting, and pledged to oppose WTO’s US-led onslaught on Indian people and agriculture. The meeting resolved to take up the issue of scams in the Development Fund, and demand their rights to homes, education and health from their local elected representatives. A cadre meet was held in Gwalior on Madhya Pradesh. Similar programmes were also held in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab , Uttaranchal, Jharkhand, West Bengal and other states