Over the past few weeks, social media was flooded with fake news about attacks on migrant workers from Bihar and other northern states. The rush of migrants back to their homes on account of Holi was cynically labelled as fleeing Tamil Nadu due to attacks. This fake news was then picked up and carried in various media channels and newspapers without verifying the same. For instance, Dainik Bhaskar had published a report claiming that nearly 15 Bihari migrant workers were killed in Tamil Nadu and that other Bihari migrants were facing Talibani-style attacks. We demand that strict legal action should be taken against those who deliberately post fake videos of migrant workers being attacked to spread fear and panic among the migrant workers and foment linguistic discord and division among the people.
We condemn the depravity of the Sangh Parivar which is aiming to reap political dividends by sowing hatred against the residents of Tamil Nadu. During the Covid crisis, migrant workers were subjected to a cruel lockdown, with multitudes of workers and their families having to walk hundreds of kilometres to reach home. The Sangh brigade now once again is seeking to use migrant workers for their political game plan.
The working people of the country are under relentless attack by the Modi government whose neoliberal economic policies are spelling doom for the working class. In the face of severe drought/floods, continuing agrarian distress and shrinking of job options, rural India is experiencing an acute employment crisis. Heavy outward migration is taking place. Women and aged have been rendered jobless. In such a situation MGNREGA is the only source of rural employment. But since the Modi Government assumed power the job scheme has been put in peril. There has been a 33% slashing of MGNREGA budget leading to crores of workers being turned away despite demanding work. The purpose of MNREGA is being consciously defeated by workers not being paid timely wages despite completing work. The Modi government is denying people proper livelihood by paying nothing more than "starvation wages" under MGNREGA.
Meanwhile in the cities, instead of addressing the precarious lives of migrant workers – informalised labour, working hours extending to 12 hours a day, no paid weekly off-day, no PF/ESI, dismal living conditions, rampant wage theft, no protection of labour laws – the Modi government is now using them as cannon fodder for their political game.
AIARLA and AICCTU call on the working people of the country to reject this blatantly xenophobic and divisive ploy and demand for:
Enact a central law to guarantee the safety, dignity and living wages of migrant workers. States should also formulate schemes for the same to protect migrant labour of their states.
Strengthen MNREGA by increasing the number of working days to 200 per year; increasing wages to Rs. 600/- per day and immediately disbursing pending wages in MNREGA - Guarantee effective local job opportunities!
Legislate Urban Employment Guarantee Act!
ALL INDIA AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL LABOUR ASSOCIATION
ALL INDIA CENTRAL COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS