The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

India:
Politicians Divide, Workers’ Struggles Unite

May 10, 2021

At present, four Indian states are having assembly elections, and local politicians are trying to whip up any and every division they can think of: Hindu against Muslim against Christian, “local” against “outsider,” “Indian” against “foreigner,” etc. Despite the worsening economic crisis, none of the parties standing for election focus on the problems of workers.

At the same time, the possible reimposition of a lockdown in the western state of Maharashtra is raising fears of a repeat of last year’s migrant worker crisis—when an estimated 10 million workers walked from cities to their villages to ensure that they had work and food while the lockdown lasted.

Meanwhile, workers are finding ways to fight. In the public sector, trade unions in the railways, postal services, and electricity boards are contemplating strikes, and bank workers have struck, protesting privatization.

In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, this has developed into a significant struggle: the government’s decision to privatize the Vishakhapatnam steel plant, which provides employment to 100,000, has led to workers blocking national highways and organizing rallies for over a month.

In the private sector, after a year of the bosses taking advantage of the Covid crisis to extend working hours and intensify the speed of work, workers are no longer buying the bosses’ “Covid excuse” that they can’t improve conditions until the crisis is over. They are insisting that their demands be met immediately. In the last month, workers from JNS Instruments (2200 workers), Satyam Auto (1900 workers), and Sunbeam Auto (3000 workers) in Manesar (an industrial center near the national capital, Delhi) occupied their factories, demanding increases in wages; toilet breaks and holidays; and an end to arbitrary disciplinary measures, dismissals, and forced retirements.

In stark contrast to the poisonous electioneering taking place, these workers are showing that the only way forward for workers is to fight together, and bridge all divisions!