RAKCON Contract Workers' Struggle for Reinstatement
The recent victory of contract workers of Rajkumari Amrit Kaur College of Nursing (RAKCON) marks a significant milestone in the history of health workers struggle in Delhi. They won in the midst of the COVID pandemic, against criminal negligence by the central government and defying anti-people laws being passed by the Parliament. On 1st February this year, about 40 contractual employees were fired from RAKCON located in Moolchand, Delhi without any notice. Since then, the employees have been waging a battle against the termination. All these employees were reinstated in the first week of July.
3-Months Long Workers' Strike
The RAKCON workers continued to picket at the college gate for three months after their termination. Throughout this period, the employees were continuously threatened by the management and the local police, but workers went ahead with their dharna until the lock-down was imposed. The Delhi High Court had ordered re-joining of employees on 9th February itself. Despite this, the college management and the contractor did not hire the fired employees. All employees were reinstated in July only after relentless struggles of the contract employees and after a warning of punitive action by the High Court. The victory is particularly significant when CoVID is wreaking havoc in people’s lives and when reports of layoffs from several institutions are flowing in. The experience shows that workers can succeed if they maintain their unity in spite of all difficulties.
Widespread Support from Farmers' Movement and Other Contract Workers
The protest received widespread support from the ongoing farmers’ movement and from other contract workers. Many labour leaders, including AICCTU's Delhi State President Com. Santosh Roy, General Secretary of All India Confederation of Health Workers Com. Ram Kishan, Senior fellow Com. Kirat Ram Ji and CPI(ML) State Secretary Ravi Rai, addressed protest meetings and expressed their support.
Contract employees of RAKCON also gave a lot of support to the First Aid Desk run by AICCTU at the Singhu Border in solidarity with the farmers’ movement. They also participated in the struggles of sanitation workers of Jawaharlal Nehru University. While fighting their own battles, RAKCON's employees have tried to extend solidarity with as many struggles as possible. The union president Comrade Surya Prakash urged the present employees to join the struggles of all contract employees of Delhi and called upon them to be prepared for the challenges ahead. π