Construction Workers in Delhi March Against Price Rise
Flagging off the CPI(ML)’s fortnight-long campaign against price rise, construction workers in Delhi marched under the banner of All India Central Council of trade Unions (AICCTU) to the Delhi Secretariat from Bhagat Singh Terminus today. Raising spirited slogans, they protested against skyrocketing prices; against the rampant deaths of building workers in prestigious areas like the Comonwealth Games Village and Delhi Metro; against denial of basic rights of citizenship as well as the welfare benefits due to construction labourers, and demanded urgent measures from the State and Central Governments to protect poor unorganised workers in the national Capital. The processionists sat on a dharna at Samta Sthal in protest when they were stopped by the police. A memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister of Delhi was also given by the protesters.
Addressing the dharna, CPI(ML) Delhi State Secretary Rajendra Pratholi highlighted the Party's demand for urgent emergency measures to cushion the poor from the impact of inflation. He also criticized the government of Delhi as well as the Central government for protecting hoarders and black-marketeers.
The AICCTU Delhi State General Secretary Santosh Rai termed the Delhi Government a killer of workers, blaming it for the high death toll of building workers: be it in building collapses, or due to epidemics or accidents in the highly unsanitary and unsafe labour camps set up for the Commonwealth Games Village and Delhi Metro. The other speakers at the rally said that the Delhi Government was projecting the Commonwealth Games as Delhi's pride, but in fact the hell-holes in which labourers were being forced to live in the national Capital were an international shame and scandal. The Delhi Govt. is wooing huge amounts of corporate capital towards the Games; while denying even the basic minimum legally guaranteed rights to the workers and forcing them to live in inhuman conditions. The Delhi Govt. is not interested in protecting the constitutional rights of the Construction Sector workers and all labour laws are openly being violated by the employers, and now this steep and sudden hike in prices has left them to face further hardships. The construction sector has been left in the hands of the mafia under full government protection.
The General Secretary of Delhi Building Workers Union VKS Gautam asked why building workers were being denied the status of citizens in the city, and demanded that the Delhi Govt. bring all construction workers under the BPL umbrella; issue voter I-cards to them; include them in the ESI Scheme; and take full responsibility for their health, education, housing etc. He said that the Delhi Building Workers’ Board has proved itself to be a complete failure in its sole objective - which is to protect the rights of the construction workers. Hardly 1% of building workers are registered under this Board. Construction workers' activists from various parts of Delhi addressed the meeting and spoke of their struggles. CPI(ML) Central Committee members Kavita Krishnan and Sanjay Sharma, AICCTU National Secretary Rajiv Dimri, Delhi Building Workers’ Union leaders Surendra Panchal, Amarnath Tiwari, CPI(ML) State Committee member Uma Gupta and many others also addressed the mass meeting.