The AICCTU Signature Campaign targeting 10 lakh signatures from working class communities on various demands ended on February 6th when representatives of AICCTU and AIARLA (All India Agricultural Rural Labour Association) met with Chief Minister Special Cell and handed over more than lakh signatures on these demands. The demands including the agrarian crisis and same wage for same work were added to the campaign due to emerging issues confronting the State.
AICCTU had organised a demonstration near Chennai Collectors Office on February 6th, which was attended by over 200 workers according to AICCTU State President Comrade A.S. Kumar. Earlier, AIARLA had also organised a week long campaign between 25th January 2017 and 31st January 2017 to pass Gram Sabha resolution in 200 villages on demands including relief from the impact of demonetisation and enhancement of NREGA. The Gram Sabha resolution on these demands were sent to Prime Minister and President of India.
Speaking in a press meet on the campaign, Comrade A.S.Kumar highlighted issues that led to various demands of signature campaign. He discussed on the increase of precarious labour and asked that Labour Department enact rules for the Tamil Nadu amendments to Industrial Employment Standing Order Act to protect trainees. He asked for the CESS being collected in Construction Workers Welfare Board be used to mitigate the unemployment that has risen due to demonetisation. On agrarian crisis, he noted that there is severe climate variation with floods in one year followed by severe drought in next year and there is no management of these crisis. He demanded immediate compensation of Rs 25000 per acre for farmers and implementation and disbursement of wages for agricultural labourers through NREGA.
Commenting on the AIARLA campaign, Comrade Janakiraman, State General Secretary of AIARLA said that the campaign targeting Gram Sabha resolutions was taken up in Thiruvallur, Pudukoilttai, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Cuddalore, Villupuram, Madurai, Tuticorin and Karur districts. In Thiruvallur district, the campaign was taken up in 6 panchayats which included Nerkunram, Alinjivakkam, Erumaivettiyapalayam, Nallur, Alamari and Solavaram in Solavaram block. In these, gram sabha resolutions were passed in Nerkunram and Alinjivakkam, Comrade Janakiraman said. In those villages where the resolutions were not passed, AIARLA took up the responsibility of sending the demands, he said. The demands included 1 lakh rupee in all Jan Dhan accounts, implementation NREGA year long with the minimum wage of Rs 500 per day and expansion of NREGA to town panchayats, land reforms and implementation of land ceiling act and enhanced PDS.
On the meet with Chief Minister Special Cell, Comrade A.S Kumar said that the Officer Ganesh Moorthy of Special Cell advised them to provide separate demands targeting various departments, which they will forward to the respective departments. Comrade Munusamy, District representative said that the objective of the campaign in increasing the cadre base for the union was not as effective due to various issues including demonetisation, agrarian crisis which deflected the union from pursuing all the objectives.
The demands submitted to the State Government included
- Stop the death and suicide of farmers.
- Announce drought compensation and implement policies to end drought condition.
- Immediate compensation of Rs 25 lakhs for those families where the farmers have died.
- Compensation of Rs 25000 per acre for the farmers whose crops have been affected.
- Disburse pending wages in NREGA.
- Minimum wage of Rs 21000 per month for all workers.
- Implement same wage for same work.
- Provide housing for the homeless.
- Implement Employee Standing Order amendments to protect the right of trainees.
- Don’t dismantle public distribution system.