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Violence and Its Impact on the Working class


May 8, 2006


Communal violence and curfew means that people are unable to go for daily wage employment; wage labourers and self-employed workers are on the brink  of starvation. – Jyoti Karmachari Mandal [JKM] and Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti [PSS]


·  There are people who even under normal circumstances make ends meet with great difficulty. Amongst them 70% are on the verge of starvation.


· In the near future how many days will they be able to get employment? That remains uncertain even today. But who cares? – JKM & PSS


There is no food in the houses of daily wagers. In such a situation those elements creating communal tension force the common person to stay indoors without employment. The violence in Vadodara is giving rise to another equally grim situation.
No new employment is being generated. In the past 5 years, 10 lakh people have lost their employment. In the name of so-called development and beautification of the city the demolition drive has not only removed the lari or small kuhmchas of ordinary people but also their houses in a brutal manner.  As an answer to creating new employment, the government and public and private sector are talking about Voluntary Retirement Schemes (VRS) which in the real sense is the Compulsory Retirement Schemes (CRS).
Due to the new economic policies
of the government, the situation of the common person is worsening day by day. In Vadodara city, earlier there used to be 3-5 casual labour markets but now these have now increased to 20. These labour markets are not very different from the slave markets of the 14th century. The only difference is that now people exercise their so-called “own free will” to sell their labour.
Today, in order to fill their stomachs, daily wage workers have to work for more than 10-16 hours. Hundreds of people have to stand in labour markets for hours each day in Vadodara to get employed. Earlier it was believed that these people are migrants from Panchmahal or Chotta Udepur, but now in such markets one will find new categories of people – those who earlier had secure jobs, people who worked in industries that have now closed down, or those who have been retrenched in the name of “Voluntary Retirement Scheme”.  These sections are now forced to join the ranks of daily wage labourers. Some of these workers are such that they would get Rs. 2,500 - 3,000/- per month as permanent employment. Now, in the labour market they get Rs.35 - 65/- as daily wages. Since the number in this casual labour market is increasing, the wages have shown a downward trend.

The number of rickshaws that are run on rents has also increased. Of those who earn a living in such a manner 50% are workers of closed mills of Gujarat. Amongst the new rickshaw drivers, there are those who are unable to get other jobs, but also those who have lost their regular jobs or have been retrenched in the name of voluntary retirement. Those who can afford to rent out their rickshaws have bought cars themselves, so that those who drive the rickshaws and those who sit in rickshaws are from about the same economic strata – this has made the economic condition of rickshaw drivers more precarious. Around 70% of rickshaws are not able to go on road since the last 6 days.
These days one can only get a job for few months.  These kinds of jobs are also now decreasing. In miniscule number jobs as security guards are available. For this a worker gets Rs.1, 000 - 1,500/- for a 12 hour shift. Labour laws are given a complete go by with such jobs. Given this situation, the recent communal violence has made the condition of the common person even more precarious.
There are people who even under normal circumstances make ends meet with great difficulty and among them 70% are on the verge of starvation. These people rely on the informal/unorganised sector for their employment. This section of the population has been imprisoned in their houses for the last 6 days and are unable to go out to seek employment. These people are not those who work in schools, banks or in the organised sector, where if people do not show up at work due to curfew, they may still able to get their salaries or wages. These are people who, if they do not go to work on a particular day, are unable to have a meal in the evening. On the one hand, these people have been pushed on the brink of starvation and on the other hand, they are being terrorised by the fear of communal attacks. Not only have the nights become like the day for them, it is the day which has become as dark as the night. They belong to all communities.
Jyoti Karmachari Mandal and Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti appeal to all those who have become victims of this extremely serious situation to raise their voices against communal violence. There are handful of people, who want to instigate violence by conducting meetings and spreading rumours and thus poisoning relations between two communities. They use insecurity, fear and joblessness of poor to achieve their own political motives. Unfortunately, impoverished workers from both the communities become the fuel to keep the fire of communal violence alive.
Jyoti Karmachari Mandal and Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti appeal to people to boycott such people and firmly resist them. The prevailing circumstances have made the condition of the common person worse and the real issues facing them have been sidelined. For this everyone needs to unite and prepare themselves for a long battle against communal forces and exploitation.
Amrish Brahmbhatt    Kantibhai M istry    Rohit Prajapati      Anand Mazgaonkar
Jyoti Karmachari Mandal                                Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti