Thousands of trade union workers, both men and women, representing a total of 10 Central trade unions, turned up at the Azad Maidan last Wednesday (January 8). They were a part of the nationwide strike against the Centre’s ‘anti-labour’ policies in a movement that saw nearly 17 lakh trade union members across the state of Maharashtra, keenly taking part.
Azad Maidan saw the single largest protest within the state, with over 40,000 officers and workers protesting against the Modi government’s ‘anti-people’ policies. The historic strike also saw support from parties such as the Shiv Sena, NCP, the Congress, the Communist Party of India, etc.
The ire was particularly against the Centre’s decision to sell public sector institutions, oil companies, slashing corporate tax rates and encouraging privatization, and thousands of protestors were seen hurling slogans against the government. Some of the demands included measures to contain inflationary prices through normalization of the public distribution system, employment generation, enforcement of labour laws, social security and a minimum wage of Rs. 21,000.
In September 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised a 60% increase in honorariums to be paid to lakhs of India’s health workers. A group of Anganwadi workers and social health activists consisting mainly of women, were seen protesting against the failure to meet these promises. Anganwadis serve as a creche for children stemming from economically backward families who cannot afford premium services.
Anganwadi workers carry out a series of tasks including providing pre-primary education for children, maintaining health records, and providing nutritious food to pregnant women. Many Anganwadi workers are only given a meagre Rs. 750 per month for rent to run their services, forcing them to operate in cramped up homes and slums.
“Our workload has increased under the Modi government but our remuneration has not increased,” said a group of Anganwadi workers hailing from Maharashtra’s Raigad district.
The Citizenship Amendment Act and the monopolization of the private sector has created a serious unrest among government officers and trade union workers.
The next big protest event in the city will be held on January 27.
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