By Narendra Sharma
NEW DELHI: For the labour movement in India, May Day, this year had a memorable ring of the International Day of Labour as trade unions in all Continents, cutting across affiliations, supported the Indian workers’ united struggle against the UPA Government’s anti-Labour and corporate-centric employment and price policies.
This year also witnessed the united struggle by all the 11 central trade union organisations along with a dozen important Federations and hundreds of independent unions, touching a new high during the February 28 nationwide strike. This too was appreciated by labour movements in Asia,Australia, Europe and Americas.
ITUC: BRUSSELS: In a solidarity message, the General Secretary of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Brussels, on behalf of its 175 million affiliated workers, said, “let me express our most sincere hopes of success of the All India General Strike that is taking place today (February 28) in your country. The ITUC fully stands on the side of Indian workers along your demands for social security for all, amendments in the Minimum Wages Act, immediate solution to the rising cost of living and in your struggle for trade union rights and against contract labour. The ITUC, really hopes that these demands will have prompt actions from your government.”
MESSAGE FROM CGT FRANCE: The CGT General Secretary, its leaders and members express their support and solidarity with the Indian workers and their trade union organisations which will be on general strike on February 28.
This strike, which will gather under the demands of 11 recognised (central) unions and 5,000 unaffiliated unions – from banking, postal, ports and government sectors – is a great event for workers in the world.
It represents the capacity of workers and workers unions to unite their forces to defend their rights and those of the most vulnerable ones, the non-regular and contract workers and to claim an equal treatment for all.
The CGT supports the demands that the workers will defend on the basis of the trade union charter common for all organisations involved. What is at stake is the defence of workers and labour rights and the right to exist for trade unions – a right jeopardized in too many places of work in India. And also to struggle against a generalization of non-regular works in the country.
On February 29, the day European trade union action called by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and its members against austerity policies, work precariousness and attacks against labour and trade union rights, we will have your General Strike in our minds. (Montreuil 27.02.2012)
SOLIDARITY MESSAGE OF WORLD FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS: Addressing a long communication from Athens, to Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh, WFTU General Secretary George Mavrikos said: From WFTU, we express our full support to the working class of India and total solidarity with the trade unions who have given the call for the strike.
It also said: The fact that all central trade unions have come together and jointly given the call for the strike action itself is a pointer to the deteriorating conditions of the labour class in India and the concern of the trade unions to espouse their cause. It is expected that nearly 100 million workers will be joining this protest action to press their 10-point demand charter.
WFTU said: After repeatedly drawing the attention of the Government to correct the situation and having failed to get any positive outcome, the entire trade union movement has risen as one man to register their stout opposition to these policies through a general strike on February 28, 2012.
It said: we urge upon the Government of India to appreciate the genuine concerns of the trade unions and take all steps to protect the interests of the workers and address the demands of the trade unions.
SOLIDARITY FROM AUSTRALIA: The Federation Square Melbourne, Australia, a rally of trade unions adopted the following statement:
On September 7, 2010 Indian workers staged the world’s biggest ever strike, with an estimated 100 million workers taking part in a 24-hour strike. This year all major federations in India have called another general strike for February 28. Indian workers are expected to come out in huge numbers once again. Increasing integration into the global economy is impacting severely on workers. Workers in India are now seeing increasing casualisation of jobs, a constant downward pressure on w ages, and increasing work pressures to keep up with world’s best standards. The strike demands include: increase the minimum wage, greater employment protection; an end to contracting out and outsourcing of job and social security for unorganised and informal workers.
These demands are ones that we can all understand. We have the same pressures here in Australia. We are always told that we need to be more flexible, more competitive and more productive. The issues are the same, the fight is the same.
Show your support for our Indian brothers and sisters as they struggle for better pay and conditions. Their struggle is our struggle. Their win will be our win.
There were solidarity messages also from European Regional Office of WFTU in Cyprus; from All Pakistan Federation of United Trade Unions,Gujrat,Pakistan; from Banks, Insurance and Finance Unions,Kathmandu,Nepal; from Kilusang Mayo UNO (KMU),Philippines.
Tom Mellen of Morning Star said millions staged 24-year strike on February 28 for Indian labour rights. Eleven major trade unions called the action to protest against the United Progressive Alliance Government’s policy of selling stakes in State-owned companies. (IPA Service)