Join the 28-29 March 2022 General Strike – for the deaf to hear we must be defiant!

On 23 March, the whole country paid tribute to the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivram Rajguru, including leaders of the Modi government. This is part Sangh Parivar’s design to manipulate history and veil their real face . It therefore becomes even more important that we remember the circumstances which led Bhagat Singh and his comrades to launch the action. In the pamphlets thrown in the assembly hall following the blast, Bhagat Singh made it clear that their act was a protest against government’s proposal of the Public Safety Bill and Trades Disputes Bill aimed at ruthlessly suppressing the dissent by the working class and against the Press Sedition Act which was aimed at silencing the voice of free press. The bombs were a warning to the colonial government that a revolt was brewing, that exploitation of people in the guise of rule of law will not be tolerated.

We stand at a juncture today when Bhagat Singh’s pamphlet is as relevant today as it was when it was first written 93 years ago. In the last three years, the majoritarian right-wing government left the working class to fend for itself (aatmnirbhar) against the wrath of the deadly Coronavirus, while at the same time it bulldozed the 4 anti-worker Labor Codes without any discussion in the Parliament. The laws that have been amended in these 4 Labour Codes include Industrial Disputes Act and Trade Union Act. This is a direct attack on workers’ fundamental right to Freedom of Association as enshrined in our constitution. It is well known that the BJP government is amending labour laws at the behest of its capitalist masters as it has terribly failed in attracting any Foreign Direct Investment or investment from private capital even after allowing corporates a free hand at plundering our natural resources, waiving their debts and exempting them from taxes since it formed the government at Centre 8 years ago.

The BJP government thinks that the economy can be lifted by enslaving workers and manipulating the statistical numbers or using rhetoric like ‘ease of doing business’. The truth is that even before the pandemic began, unemployment was at its worst in 45 years. The economic fallout caused by the pandemic has only worsened the already plagued the Indian economy. Far from creating new employment opportunities in the years that it has been in power, the BJP government has not made appointments to government positions that have been lying vacant for years now. During the pandemic, the ASHA, Anganwadi, Safai Karamcharis and other essential workers were lauded as frontline workers, political leaders showered flowers upon them, today they are still working on contract for meagre wages. They are being met with police violence for demanding regular employment and better wages. MGNREGA which has become the lifeline of the rural poor for it remains the only avenue of employment in rural areas will see a budget cut of over 34% in Budget 2023. This is happening at a time when large sections of migrant workers, who were forced to return to their villages during the pandemic, are dependent on MGNREGA for their survival and wages whilst thousands of crores of rupees of wages remain unpaid across states.

Lack of income and rising inflation has sent the economy into a tailspin. For economic recovery, it is imperative that people get secure, permanent jobs. Only when people have money to spend, will demand increase in the market and new employment opportunities will be created. This is possible only when the government changes its fiscal policy, increases its spending on social protection and social security so that the money reaches the pockets of the people. On the contrary the BJP government’s policies are aimed at benefiting the rich. To raise money, the government has slashed interest rate on Provident Funds to the lowest level in 45 years, which has added to the uncertainty working people have been facing. Plans are underway for disinvestment in public sector undertakings such as Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and others establishments. Railway stations, Ports & Docks and Airports including bank are being offered to private players for throwaway prices. The companies to whom the government is selling public assets have defaulted on phenomenally large loan payments to public sector banks . Banks have been forced to waive off these bad loans under political pressure which has put them at the risk of bankruptcy jeopardising the savings of working people

Even in the past whenever economic crisis has deepened, right-wing forces have raised their head. History is repeating itself in our country. In order to divert public attention from the economic crisis the BJP has been fuelling a social crisis. Religious hatred is increasing, democratic spaces are shirking and those at the helm of the executive and the judiciary, who are supposed to check the government are working hand in glove with the BJP. The unemployed and distraught young population is being supplied the opium of hatred. The working people are being pitched against each other in the name of caste, religion, region and language. Violently provocative speeches are made from the stage of religious conventions and election rallies baying for the blood of religious minorities. The patriarchal Hindutva ideology of the Sangh Parivar is being propagated by the state machinery. Its adverse consequences have become starkly visible, Muslim adolescent girls are being denied education on the basis of their clothing, they are being targeted and harassed in public. Women’s participation in the labor force is on a decline. Those who raise their voice against injustice are being labelled anti-nationals and prosecuted as terrorists. Workers and their unions too are being implicated in such false cases. We must understand that Trade Union rights are intertwined with democratic rights. The shrinking of democratic spaces means that worker’s rights will also come under attack.

The Finance Minister in her budget speech asked the country should prepare to celebrate the centenary of independence (Amrit Kaal). It will be the darkest period since independence with the country in the grip of unemployment, hunger, illiteracy and hatred. The working class should prepare for the era of defiance. (Drohkaal). The call for a general strike on 28-29 March 2022 by the central trade unions is the clarion call for rebellion against anti-worker laws and violation of democratic rights. New Trade Union Initiative stands shoulder to shoulder with every militant worker in this fight and reiterates the words of Bhagat Singh that – the state of war does exist and shall exist so long as the Indian toiling masses and the natural resources are being exploited by a handful of parasites.
Inquilab Zindabad!

Join the 28-29 March General Strike!
Modi government:
Repeal all four anti-worker labour codes!
Ensure Permanent and Secure Jobs for All!
End Contract & Fixed Term Employment!
A Just Minimum Wage for All!
Ensure Pension and Health Care for All!
Ensure Equal Wages for Equal Work!
Stop disinvestment in and privatization of PSUs!