More than 100,000 workers from across India have gathered in the capital of New Delhi to stage a massive three-day sit-in — a ‘mahapadav’ — against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the central government’s “anti-worker, anti-people and anti-national policies.”
The workers are demanding wage increases; price control; an end to the labor-contracting system, and the scrapping of government policies of privatization, infiltration of foreign capital, and welfare cuts.
The protest, coordinated by various communist parties in the country, has the support of at least 10 trade unions and a number of other workers’ organizations. It marks an emerging sense of unity in what has previously been a fragmented trade-union movement in India.
1 lakh workers from across India storm Delhi for a 3-day #Mahapadav (mass sit-in) on Parliament Street.— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) November 9, 2017
Workers rise in rage against Modi’s all round failure to raise wages, control price rise & protect jobs, even while giving concessions to big corporates & cronies. pic.twitter.com/uNCnTdrDHM
"The campaign for the mahapadav specifically focused on the unity of all working people rising above divisive lines of identity politics and religious fundamentalism and in defense of religious minorities, dalits and adivasis, which have faced increased attacks and marginalization under the current regime," Indian news outlet Newsclick reports.
Workers #Mahapadav— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) November 9, 2017
Suresh Kumar, Joginder & Ajay - Safai karmacharis from Panipat. They dont get any medical benefits. Their work is hazardous but they do not get any safety equipment. They are here to demand a minimum wage of atleast Rs 18000/month. pic.twitter.com/CfgPCvdEzE
The 16-million-strong peasants and farmer’s wing of the Communist Party of India, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), said in a statement: “This is a campaign that intends to showcase to the nation how farmers are being denied remunerative prices after all the hardships and risks that they face in producing food for the nation.”
The group simultaneously launched a #KisanKiLoot campaign, which “consists of photographs of individual farmers with a banner that displays the loss made by the farmer due to low prices.”
The mahapadav was the result of a three-month campaign led by various organizations and unions and is the first major workers' protest staged in Delhi since Modi came to power in 2014. The protesters are expected to call for a general strike early next year.
There have been two other major country-wide general strikes in the past two years, also protesting Modi’s policies.