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SAGA CORNER

Trade Unions Concerned over Hardships of workers due to demonetization

In a joint statement, the Central Trade Union Organisations (CTUOs) have reiterated their serious concern at the hardships and miseries imposed on the workers, particularly in the unorganised sector, farmers, agricultural labourers and rural poor, on small traders and street vendors by the Modi government due to the demonetization.

The statement is signed by leaders of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha ( HMS), Central Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Union of Trade Unions Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Unions Coordination Centre (TUCC), Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), United Trade Union Congress (UTUC) and Labour Progressive Federation (LPF).

The CTUOs took note of the ongoing spontaneous protests by various trade unions throughout the country against the miseries inflicted upon the workers, farmers, self-employed and small business by demonetisation process and stressed upon the need for carrying on the same initiative as a part of their united struggle against the anti-worker, anti-people authoritarian policies of the Government. Reports have been pouring in from all over the country, during the last two months, about closures of thousands of small and medium enterprises, lakhs of workers, particularly the migrant workers losing their jobs. Lakhs of migrant workers employed in construction, brick kiln, textile and garments, jewellery, leather, sports goods etc have lost their work.

Quoting a recent study by the All India Manufacturers’ Organisation, the statement said that in the first 34 days since demonetisation, micro small scale industries suffered 35 per cent job losses and a 50 per cent dip in their revenues. It is also projected 60 per cent drop in employment and 55 per cent loss in revenue by March 2017. There is large scale reverse migration to the rural areas. More than 100 people have died due the demonetisation onslaught and its impact on the people.

This exercise has resulted in the ruin of micro and small industries. It will further increase the already wide income inequalities. It is only intended to help finance capital by sucking in people’s money into the banks for their recapitalisation so that they can provide cheap credit to the big corporate and business houses. 

None of the objectives of this demonetisation, outlined by the government, – unearthing black money, curtailing corruption, stopping funds to terrorist activities and preventing counterfeiting have been fulfilled calling a bluff on the loud noises made by the Government through media. There was no attempt to bring back the huge amount of black money stashed in foreign countries despite the Government having the list of those big black money holders. Counterfeit money in the form of the new Rs 2000 notes are already being printed and brought into circulation. While old avenues of corruption continue unabated, new avenues have been opened in the form of exchanging old withdrawn notes for new notes.

The Government is refusing to take concrete action of even recovering black-money in domestic soil being generated by huge direct tax-default to the tune of Rs 5 lakh crore every year, speculation in the commodity market, under-invoicing and over-invoicing in foreign and domestic trade by the big traders, deliberate default of bank-loans etc. 

Poor unorganised workers having no bank accounts are being robbed of their meagre earnings by unscrupulous commission agents. Farmers are being compelled make distress sale of their produce, both grains and vegetables. The Nagrota terrorist attack clearly establishes the failure of this exercise in stopping terrorist funding and terrorist attacks. Now the government shifted the narrative to converting the country into cashless economy and digital economy, which is nothing but impossible at this juncture given the huge unbanked areas in rural India. 

In fact as the facts revealed by RBI and various other agencies, the demonetisation has resulted in making the black-money white and legitimising the counterfeit currency made clear by the data of demonetised currency received by the banking system to the tune of more than 98 per cent by the end of December 2016.

Instead of taking measures to mitigate the sufferings of the workers the government is branding those who voice their sufferings as black money holders, corrupt and anti national. This is nothing but a clear exhibition of authoritarian tendencies by the government and the BJP leaders.

The Central Trade Unions while seriously condemning this authoritarian attitude of the government  call upon the working people to organise at state capital and  district level joint demonstrations all over the country on 28 January, demanding that the government compensate the toiling people for the job losses, wage losses, crop losses and loss of livelihood.  

About the author: The author is a practicing hack, a cynic to core.”

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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