Workers’ Protest in Ranchi

All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) held a protest at the Jharkhand Labour office in Ranchi on 30 May 2017, protesting against the pro-corporate changes in the labour law and highlighting several demands including equal pay for equal work and guarantee of minimum wage of Rs 18000 to all unorganized workers. Members of several unions including the Jharkhand Construction Workers’ Union, Jharkhand General Workers’ Union, Coal Mines Workers’ Union, Janvadi Mukti Morcha and Centre of Central Workers’ Union participated in the protest. The unions affiliated to AICCTU began the protest march from the Ranchi Railway station. The march, which proceeded via Rajendra Chowk and Mekan Gate, culminated with a protest gathering of workers at the Labour Office.

Addressing the gathering, state general secretary of AICCTU Shubendu Sen pointed out that workers in Jharkhand had been abandoned by the state as well as Central governments. Workers were bearing the brunt of arbitrariness and terror unleashed by factory owners and employers, neither a dignified minimum wage nor social security is guaranteed. Government declarations are merely confined to files in various government offices, and are rarely implemented. State secretary of the Jharkhand Construction Workers’ Union Bhuvaneshwar Kewat said that online services and registrations introduced in the name of ‘easing’ the functioning of offices have become a curse for workers. A dozen workers have died in Ranchi over the past two months in various accidents during construction work, and yet the government is completely indifferent to these deaths.  The Labour office has become a centre to cater to the conveniences and demands of builders, and safety guidelines are being blatantly violated with impunity. Workers have fought against several odds and won crucial rights, and they will not allow these rights to be taken away, he added. It is now three years since a single health card was issued – this is proof of the indifference of the Labour office and the state government towards workers’ rights. In the absence of the Labour Commissioner, a 15-point list of demands was handed over to the Deputy Labour Commissioner.

The protest meeting was also addressed by State President Devdweep Diwakar, Ajit Prajapati, Anita Devi, Ajablal Singh, Bhuneshwar Vedia of the Jharkhand General Workers’ Union, Jagannnath Oraon of the Coal Mines Workers’ Union, Sudama Khalko. Bheem Sao, Santosh Kumar, Salim Ansari, Sunita Kumaru, Elisabba Ekka and other leaders.