-Osonghotit Khetra Shramik Sangrami Manch
Friends, We are passing through very hard times. “We” means the people of this country, “we” means the working people who labour on the roads and in the factories ; in the fields and in the farms; in the offices and in the shops;and, even inside homes , sometimes in our own homes and sometimes in others’ homes. We work, not to make profits or for luxuries or to become powerful or to waste, but only for our survival. We form the majority – 15 annas out of 16 annas or even more.
Can any of us say from our hearts that we are living good lives? None of us can. But why should that be so? Are things, including food, essential for a good life not being produced? Of course they are being produced. In fact, lots is being wasted. Then why are we hungry? Is there not enough employment, so that everyone can get a job? There is, because every person who works spends 10-12-14-16 hours at back breaking work, to make a bare living.
Yet there are lakhs crores of people who are unemployed. Is there lack of infrastructure to educate every child and youth and to provide everyone with health care? There is never any lack of money for all the useless expenses, then why is there a shortage when infrastructure for health or schools have to be made. In the same way, if we look at every need of ours one by one, we will find that there are enough resources and ways to solve all our problems, yet it never happens.
Why do our needs remain unfulfilled? We have two enemies. On the one hand are the domestic and foreign employer class who take away the fruits of our sweat and labour. Ages ago, a few people were clever and they cheated the majority of land, resources , machines etc., to become owners and employers. If we don’t work for them directly or indirectly, we cannot survive. And taking advantage of our dependence, they are becoming wealthier, while we get poorer. Despite many efforts, there has been no change in our situation. Then, there is a system to protect these employers and this individual owner based system- there is the police , the Government, military, courts, leaders and ministers, bureaucrats, managers and media, which we call the State.
Few people run this machinery and this is our second enemy. Our struggle is against these two enemies. Our strength is our numbers and our unity. We have a problem of unity. Often there are conflicts of interest between various groups within us. However, for our good, it is necessary that we unite against our common enemies. If we can win this struggle, our other problems will reduce. Along with unity, we must reduce our dependence on our “dadas” and “didis”, on our leaders and our political parties. We must become active and conscious. We must demand our rights at our work place. We must also organise joint vigilance to monitor the functioning of all bodies starting from the Panchayat and Municipality to the State and Central Government.
How much will we be paid, how many hours we will have to work for, what is the Government’s policy, what new laws are they bringing in – we have to understand and monitor all of this. If we find that there is something happening which is against our interests, we must unitedly stop it. We must force the Government and the owners-employers to fulfil our demands. If you unite and fight for all this, the Osonghotit Khetra Shramik Sangrami Manch is with you, to respond to your call. We are ready to join you on the streets after taking your opinion on various issues. Keeping all this in mind we have prepared our demands, which are given below. Come, join us in a common struggle.
Democracy and Democratic Rights
1. Voters must have the right to recall their elected representatives at any point of time. The law must be changed accordingly.
2. The expenses for publicity and campaigning and all other necessary expenses during an election must be borne by the Government for all candidates.
3. Elections must be free from terror and other bad influences, so that voters can vote freely without external force being applied on them.
4. Panchayats and Municipalities must be given the right to plan for their areas and to use all resources. Ward Sabhas and Gram Sansads must be involved fully in this work and the law must be amended accordingly.
5. People in all professions must have the right to organise and the full right to protest. The right to strike cannot be snatched away from working people. Practises in industry such as suspension of work, lock outs and lay- offs must be banned.
6. All black laws including UAPA, must be revoked. The practice of filing false cases on people in the opposition must stop and all such false cases must be withdrawn.
Natural Resources and the Environment
1. Natural resources must be controlled by all people, not by corporates and the Government. The right to land must lie with the actual tiller.
2. When using natural resources, importance must be given to ecological balance. Industries that are destructive of the environment must be banned. Planning for this must take place, while taking into consideration the interests of all working people associated with such an industry.
3. Sustainable agriculture which depends on natural processes must be adopted, instead of “modern”, profit- oriented technology with an overdependence on artificial chemicals and an adverse impact on people and the environment.
4. The river linking project with its adverse impact on ecology must be banned.
Work and Workers’ Right
1. We want employment for all. Creation of employment must be the first criterion to determine investment and the use of natural resources.
2. Employment with a decent wage that allows life with dignity must be given to all people who are unemployed, partially employed, without work (check) or laid off from closed factories. If it is not possible to give them employment, all such people must be given a equal amount as an unemployment allowance.
3. A decent living wage must be paid for all work. Unpaid work (such as women’s family labour) must be accepted and given value as essential social and economically productive work.
4. An eight hours work day, social security and safety at the workplace must be ensured.
5. The Government must ensure pensions for the aged and the physically and mentally challenged.
6. Inequality in earnings and wealth must be reduced. The highest income must not be more than 6 times the lowest income.
7. Employment in the private and public sector must be permanent in nature. Contractual jobs must be stopped.
8. The Government must take the responsibility of ensuring that all small and marginal producers, including farmers, and all small service providers, including hawkers are able to survive and have sustainable livelihoods. The Government must ensure subsidised inputs and profitable prices for their products. It must also provide insurance and other measures to protect them from natural and other calamities.
9. The Government must provide a wage subsidy to ensure that workers employed by small and marginal producers receive a decent living wage.
Public Services: Food , Health , Education, Housing
1. All essential commodities, including food grains, must be provided to all at subsidised rates through the Public Distribution System.
2. Education for all must be recognised as a right and education of the same quality must be provided to all. The commercialisation of education must be stopped. There must not be disparity in the kind of education we provide to people.
3. There must be good quality and free health care for all. The commercialisation of health care must be stopped and private health care business must be stopped.
4. The right to housing for all must be accepted. Working people must be provided with housing near their workplaces.
5. The right to public services like housing, health and education must be accepted and the Government must provide these services. The Government must enforce extra taxes on employers and other rich people to finance such services. Widening of the tax net and raising more direct taxes has to be done to increase Government revenue. Indirect taxes must be reduced and must be totally removed in the future.
1. Social and economic discrimination due to gender, caste, religion or ethnicity must be eradicated. The Government must be totally non-partisan in such matters. However, it must also take measures to ensure that groups that have become backward due to such discrimination are helped to achieve equality.
2. Sexual violence on women and other kinds of gender based discrimination must be stopped in the workplace, in the family and in society.