Ludhiana – Workers of power loom factories on strike

September 20, 2010

September 30 : A magnificent victory of the power loom workers of Ludhiana

The power loom workers of Ludhiana’s Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar and Madhopuri areas gained a magnificent victory on the 15th day (30th September) of their strike under the leadership of the Karkhana Mazdoor Union (KMU) .The factory owners had to relent under the combined strength of the workers. A representative group of the owners of 26 factories held a meeting with the workers’ representatives for negotiations in presence of the Assistant Labour Commissioner and finally they agreed to sign a written agreement. As per the agreement a hike of 11-12 percent in the piece rate/salary has been promised for the different categories of power loom workers. The agreement would be implemented in all the 59 factories whose workers were participating in the strike. After the signing of the agreement the workers decided to call of their 15 day long strike and to join the work from 1st October.

This is the third phase of the successful strikes of the power loom workers of Ludhiana under the leadership of the Karkhana Mazdoor Union (KMU). Earlier the workers of the 42 power loom factories of Shaktinagar, Tibba road forced the factory owners to accept to their demands after 8 day long strike from 24th August to 31st August. This was followed by another successful strike in Jindal Textile factory. In the history of last 18 years of Ludhiana’s labour movement it is the first occasion when the workers have achieved a worthwhile success against the combined might of the factory owners. There has been a new awakening among the workers of Ludhiana after these recent successes. Much more significant than the monetary hike is the fact that the workers have now managed to form their militant organisation. It is the organization which is the main weapon with the workers for ensuring that the agreement is properly implemented and also it would act as a platform in future for uniting the workers on the various issues affecting their life and livelihood.

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Press Statement on September 29 : Ludhiana power loom workers’ strike enters 14th day

The strike of the power loom workers of Ludhiana’s Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar and Madhopuri areas under the leadership of Karkhana Mazdoor Union (KMU) entered 14 day today. Yesterday (on 28th September), the striking workers dedicated the 13th day of their strike to 103rd birth day of martyr Bhagat Singh. After the inconclusive dialogue with the Assistant Labour Commissioner on 27th September, the workers of 7 other power loom factories have also decided to join the strike. With this, the workers of 59 factories are on strike now.

Coming under the pressure of the strike, the factory owners conducted a meeting in Gaushala on the evening of 28th September. It is learnt that the meeting witnessed a fierce altercation and even though majority of the owners were in favour of a compromise, some powerful factory owners ensured that a consensus could not be reached.

Today on the 14th day of strike the workers conducted a meeting at Tuda ground, Chandigarh road from 10 am to 5:30 pm. It was decided in the meeting that tomorrow (on 30th September) the workers, along with their family members, would organize a huge demonstration at the Labour Commissoner’s office. Despite the long struggle, the workers are not showing any sign of fatigue and their spirit is high. They insist that they would go back to work only when their legitimate demands are met.

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Press Statement on September 28
The protesting power loom workers organized a meeting on 103rd birth anniversary of comrade Bhagat Singh

Hindi version of the press note

The power loom workers of Ludhiana’s Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar and Madhopuri areas who are on a strike, along with other hundreds of workers from more than 50 different factories celebrated the 103rd birth anniversary of comrade Bhagat Singh. They dedicated this day of strike to comrade Bhagat Singh and promised that they will continue their struggle against corruption, exploitation and injustice at any cost. They decided that this strike for their rights, truth and justice would continue.

The president of Karkhana Mazdoor Union (KMU) Mr. Rajwinder said that comrade Bhagat Singh’s dreams are still incomplete. It is now the responsibility of today’s workers to carry forward his visions for the new India. He also said that workers still live like slaves in today’s independent India.

It is to be noted that power loom workers are on strike since 16th September; they are struggling for piece rate increase, security measures during accidents and implementation of the labour laws. Labour division has been handling this issue and they have refused to do anything about the demands. Labour officials are claiming that they don’t have any control over factory owners. Owners have refused to sign any written agreement. Rajwinder says that ‘if not today, may be tomorrow, but owners will have to agree’.

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Decisive strike at labour office on September 27 : Strike to be carried on till demands are met

Reaching no conclusion after eleven days of strike in more than fifty power loom factories of Ludhiana’s Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar and Madhopuri areas the workers in the leadership of Karkhana Mazdoor Union organised a big meeting in front of Vardhman Mill yesterday which was attended by more than a thousand workers of different areas. It was decided in the meeting that a strike shall be called at the labour office today (September 27) which shall not be called off until the demands of the workers are met even if the strikers have to spend the night at the labour office.

Rajwinder, President Karkhana Mazdoor Union, said that the immorality of the labour office has reached its limit and they have no regard for their constituinal duties. The workers have been protesting for the last 11 days and their demands are very little and legitimate. There has been no significant increase in their wages for past 10-12 years while cost of living has gone up many times. The profits earned by owners at the expense of the workers have been soaring high but they are not willing to give a penny to the toiling workers. The workers live like slaves in this independent country whose rulers take great pride in calling it the biggest democracy of the world. While the owners only care for their profits the labour office is even less concerned about the condition of the workers. The labour officers shamelessly take the side of owners in every dispute between the owners and the workers. Rajwinder brought out the contrasting fact that the representatives of the people (Members of Parliament) recently voted to increase their salary by more than 300 per cent but they do not wish to give the majority of people living in wretched conditions even a rupee more. He said that enough was enough and the workers were not ready to tolerate it any more. They will not relent until their demands are fulfilled.

The meeting in front the Vardhman Mill today was attended by representatives of Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Moulder and Steel Worker’s Union, Lok Ekta Sangthan, Mazdoor Chetana Manch, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), D.I.F., D.T.F., AITUC and INTUC and they promised to provide every support to the strike of the power loom workers of Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar and Madhopuri areas of Ludhiana and announced their participation in the strike to be held today at the labour office. Rajwinder said that now no factory owner has the courage to suppress the striking workers any more.

Released by Lakhwinder, Mobile: 096461 50249
Secretary, Karkhana Mazdoor Union

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Press Note and Video Links from September 21 strike

Striking powerloom workers of Gaushala area (Ludhiana) protesting at labour office under the leadership of Karkhana Mazdoor Union, 21 sep 2010.

Striking powerloom workers of Gaushala area (Ludhiana) march towards labour office under the leadership of Karkhana Mazdoor Union, 21 Sep 2010.

Press Statement

21 September 2010

The Ongoing Struggle of Powerloom Workers of Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar, Madhopuri

The Huge Public Rally of Workers’ Union In front of the Labour Office

The Karkhana Mazdoor Union (KMU) organized a huge rally today in front of the labour office. This rally was organized to assert the demands of striking workers of more than fifty powerloom factories of Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar, Ludhiana. Apart from powerloom workers, large number of laborers from other factories of Ludhiana participated in this rally. Demanding a 22% increase in piece rates and implementation of labour laws, the workers’ of Ludhiana powerloom factories have been on strike since 16th August, 2010. This strike has been growing consistently and by now (sixth day of the strike), fifty two powerloom factory workers have joined the struggle. They have pledged that even if they have to starve, they would not return to work until their just demands are accepted.

Addressing the rally, Rajwinder, the leader of Karkhana Mazdoor Union, has warned the labour department and the administration that the union will further intensify its struggle if the demands of striking workers are not considered seriously. Leaders of other organizations such as Dr Parminder of Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Dharmendra from Bajaj Sons Karkhana Mazdoor Union, Harjinder Singh and Vijay Narayan of Moulder and Steel Workers’ Union, Gallar Chauhan of Lok Ekta Sangathan, Sher Bahadur of Mazdoor Chetna Manch, Kasturi Lal of Lok Morcha Punjab, and Jaswant Jirakh of Inkalabi Kendra, Punjab participated in the rally and expressed their organizations’ solidarity with the struggles of powerloom workers. Welcoming the support of these organizations, KMU leader Rajwinder commented that their participation would further strengthen the struggles of powerloom workers.

It is important to note that despite consistently increasing cost of living, in the last 10-12 years, the wages of powerloom workers have remained more or less stagnant. Moreover, labour laws are practically non-existent in these factories. The labour department, the administration, and the police have merely been the silent witnesses to the gross violation of labour laws in powerloom factories. The poverty and total lack of constitutional rights have forced workers to live amidst inhuman conditions. In this situation, they are compelled to strike work and struggle for their rights.

Lakhwinder
Secretary, Karkhana Mazdoor Union

Press Release in Hindi

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September 20 Press Statement announcing strike

Workers of 46 factories of Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar, Madhopuri on strike

A huge demonstration-dharna at the labour office tomorrow

Many organisations join in support of the strike going on from 16th September

Ludhiana, 20 September, 2010. The striking power loom workers of 46 factories of Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar, Madhopuri and other areas of Ludhiana will stage a demonstration-dharna at the labour office, Ludhiana tomorrow. The workers are demand a 25% increase in their piece rate/salary which has not increased for the past 10-12 years, and implementation of other labour laws.

The strike of the power loom workers is spreading with each passing day. The strike which started on 16th September in 22 factories has now spread to 46 factories on the fifth day. The president of Karkhana Mazdoor Union, Rajwinder today said that the morale of the workers was high and they will fight for their rights till the end. He informed that hundreds of workers of Bajaj Son’s (C-103) factory will also join the dharna tomorrow. Along with this Moulder and Steel Worker’s Union, Mazdoor Chetna Manch, Inqulabi Kendra Panjab, Lok Morcha Panjab and several organisations have also joined the struggle in the support of the power loom workers. These organisations have expressed strong solidarity with the striking workers.

Rajwinder has warned the factory owners, police and administration to refrain from the ploy of portraying this peaceful, disciplined and organised struggle as a threat to law and order. He strongly denounced all such tactics.

It is noteworthy that there have been no significant increment in the wages of the workers for the last 10-12 years while the cost of all commodities have have sky rocketed during these years. The power loom factories follow no labour laws. The factory owners pay no regard to the constitutional rights of the workers and the labour department, police and administration are hand in glove with them. The condition of the workers has deteriorated beyond imagination and their life has become a living hell. These circumstances have forced the workers to go on strike.

Released by,

Lakhwinder, Secretary, Karkhana Mazdoor Union, Mobile: 96461 50249