The Call of 2024: Overthrow the Disastrous Modi led BJP Regime!
Make 16th February all-India Strike and Rural Bandh a great success!
2023 began with a bigger assembly of workers and called for waves and waves of struggles of workers. 2024 shall begin with a call to overthrow the disastrous BJP regime from the echelons of power in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The most significant development in 2023 is the realisation of the dream of unity of workers and farmers. The unity was best exemplified in the joint struggles of farmers and workers against the Modi regime and its disastrous anti-worker, anti-farmer policies, held in state capitals from 26 to 28 November 2023. Lakhs of farmers and workers joined hands to display the struggling solidarity of the toiling masses of the country.
The slogan of “Modi and BJP, Quit India” reverberated, in every nook and corners, across the country, on Aug 9, 2023, the day of the movement that called for Britishers to “Quit India” in 1942.
Right from Bank, LIC and financial employees of organised sector to the scheme workers of unorganised sector went on a path of struggle against privatisation and for securing their right to livelihood and for better standard of living. The scheme workers in states like Bihar, Uttarakhand and Haryana went on frequent strikes for more than a month.
BJP government’s bulldozers ploughed through and rampaged through a number of slums in Delhi, UP and various other states but none of them could escape the wrath and resistance of workers living in slums.
The demand for restoration of Old Pension Scheme, as a third benefit, and scrapping of New Pension Scheme witnessed huge mobilisations across the country and also in Delhi by various platforms of central and state government recognised associations and of unrecognised associations under various banners. The Front Against National Pension Scheme in Railways (FANPSR) led by Indian Railway Employees Federation and Bihar State Government Employees Maha Sangh (Gope Faction) in Bihar and Jharkhand, both affiliated to AICCTU, also played a major role in the mobilisations and in the movement.
The workers of public sector industries like steel, coal, oil, etc., also went on strikes against privatisation and for wage hike. ISRO workers in Ranchi, instrumental in successfully launching Chandraayan 3, were denied wages and went on a struggle for the same.
Workers of gig and platform workers, including ola – uber drivers and delivery workers, went on militant struggles in various parts of the country that forced the managements to heed to their demands and also forced the union government to bring in a law for their social security. It is another story that the social security only provides insurance schemes to be paid out of the pockets of workers themselves instead of making the corporate companies to be responsible towards its own workforce.
We also witnessed spontaneous outbursts and rasta rokos against the injustices meted out to the workers of private multinational corporate companies like Ford, Foxconn, etc., and the list endless. Workers of several states went on resistance struggles to withdraw the order for 12 hours workday and Tamil Nadu witnessed the most successful struggle that forced the government to take back the order.
Enraged workers were also instrumental in overthrowing the BJP regime in Karnataka that introduced anti-worker ordinances.
The farmers in the country were continuously on a campaign of struggles all through the year against the treachery and backstabbing of the Modi-BJP led union government. The year-long struggles of farmers in Delhi and the complete disillusionment of farmers also paved the way for a regime change in Punjab.
Overall, the year 2023 proved to be the year of waves and waves of struggles including powerful workers’ struggles of various sectors.
Industry 4.0, technology driven growth and labour market, skilling, reskilling and upskilling are considered to be the mantras of the future and the workforce. Neither the G 20 summit nor the Indian government addressed the issue of the resultant displacement of workers from the labour market. Modi while addressing the GPAI summit on Artificial Intelligence also aired the same but maintained silence about the huge issue of unemployment.
While addressing G 20 Labour and Employment Ministers Meet at Indore, the Prime Minister Modi said that the special focus is being laid on industry 4.0 sectors like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Internet of Things and Drones. He was talking about proliferating digital platforms and technology driven growth but failed to utter a single word about people losing jobs and about generating employment. Even an international research organisation says that at least 2 percent jobs are lost every year which are not compensated with generation of employment.
The share of manufacturing in employment has remained stagnated at 16.4 percent in 2022-23. The share of manufacturing in the workforce declined form 12.6 percent in 2011-12 to 11.6 percent in 2021-22. The textile, apparel and leather which are traditionally acknowledged as labour intensive and employment generating industries have decelerated in their growth rates (-0.5, 1.2 and -1.8 respectively). The Index of Industrial Production has only grown at 2.9 percent on an average every year since 2013-14 to 2022-23.
The unemployment rate among young graduates is 42.5 percent. The number of employees in factories grew at 6.2% annually during the UPA regime. This growth fell to 2.8% under the Modi government. Similarly, wages to workers grew at 17.1% annually under the UPA, falling to 8.4% since 2014.
The OXFAM report states that despite India being one of the fastest developing economies in the world, the downside is that India is one of the countries with the fastest increasing inequalities. The inequality and disparities have increased very sharply in the last decade under the BJP’s rule. The richest have cornered a huge wealth to the extent of competing with the wealthiest in the world while the number of the poorest and the inequality in the country keep increasing. The poor are unable to access even the mandatory minimum wages, quality education and affordable health care. The are denied of even bare minimum social security, leave alone regularisation of their jobs.
Under employment is so rampant that the Madras High Court has to advise the state government to formulate rules where the poorly qualified are not denied of their right to employment because of competition from the highly educated competing for the same unskilled job.
Job loss, Wage loss and unemployment are threatening the life of the people while Modi is talking about technology driven growth which is basically a Jobless growth. The need of the hour is to generate more jobs, but the union government is following policies that kills even existing jobs. Despite promising two crore jobs every year since it came to power in 2014, the Modi government has not really increased any opportunities or jobs.
Modi’s Vision 2047 is to create an army of labour who cannot even stake a claim for any regularisation, wage security and social security, as per law. Modi’s vision is to create a labour force similar to that of gig and platform workers where employer – employee relationship is blurred. Flexible working arrangements and flexible income sources being perceived in the model of gig and platform workers is nothing but an euphemism for dismantling the system workers’ rights and the livelihood. The industrialists are being relieved of the burden of taking care of the necessities of their own workforce while the workers are burdened to fend for themselves. Even ESI and PF that are mandatory under existing laws are being made optional through the Labour Codes.
In the Indore meet, Modi highlighted the skill and dedication of frontline health workers but called it a “culture and compassion” and refused to address the issue of denial of even minimum wages and the denial of the status of a worker to them. He was talking about globalising the development and sharing of skills but did not talk about paying global wages to workers in India or sharing of profits with workers. He was talking about globally mobile workforce, migration and mobility partnership, etc., but we never imagined that he would enter into an agreement with Israel to make our construction workers as renegades against Palestinian workers and would force them to risk their life in the war-torn country. The Modi government’s decision to send around a lakh of construction workers to Israel, risking their lives, is widely condemned and protested by Indian workers.
Workers in the country are facing a very serious crisis of their livelihood because of low wages, skyrocketing price rise and lack of any security including job and social security. The four Labour Codes are waiting on the wings to destroy the system of rights and livelihoods of workers. Despite adoption of Labour Codes in both houses, they are not brought into force on the one hand because of stiff resistance from the trade unions in the country and also because of Modi’s fear of losing impending Lok Sabha elections in 2024. BJP is in a jittery that implementing Labour Codes can spell a doom for BJP in the coming elections. Hence, it is put on hold, for now.
In the name of opening Ram temple in Ayodhya, the BJP is dreaming of generating heightened communal hatred in the country, camouflaging real issues of the people, to win the elections. 26 January republic day is being relegated to the background while a fury is being created around 22 January, the day of opening ceremony of Ram temple. The BJP and RSS are aiming at transforming India into a Hindu Rashtra. The “Hindu Rashtra” perceived by the BJP-RSS is nothing but a “Corporate, Communal Rashtra” of Adanis, Ambanis and the Sangh Brigade against the rights and wellbeing of the working class. The BJP is hell bent on replacing India’s “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic” constitution of the Modern India with the Manu Smriti of barbarian times.
AICCTU is joining the “Peoples’ Pledge Campaign (Jan Sankalp Abhiyan)” to save democracy and to save the constitution from 26 January, the day the Indian republic was born, to 30 January 2024, the day Gandhi who stood for the Hindu-Muslim unity, was killed by the communal fanatic Godse.
AICCTU is also joining the mass action jointly called by the platform of central trade unions and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha on 16 January.
The working class cannot allow the disastrous BJP regime to make a comeback because it will be a major disaster in the lives of the toiling masses of the country. The workers and farmers have resolved to defeat Modi and the BJP in the coming elections so as to avoid a disaster for the country, for the people and for the workers.
The resolve of the working class in 2024 is to overthrow the disastrous BJP regime from the echelons of power!
With the reinforcement of unity of farmers and workers, the days of Modi and BJP rule are being numbered.
The Call of 2024 is to oust the Modi led BJP regime to protect the lives of workers, farmers and the people of the country.
Defeat Modi and the BJP in Lok Sabha elections 2024!