The New Trade Union Initiative stands with the call of the SKM [Sanyukt Kisan Morcha] for a countrywide bandh on Friday 26 March 2021 to advance the struggle of farmers against the three farm laws brought in by the BJP government. These new laws will not just undermine the livelihood of farmers but also the livelihood of small and marginal peasants, landless agricultural workers and the entire rural community.
The call for the bandh comes at a time when the government is refusing to engage democratically with the farmers and has turned its back on the farmers and their concerns. The BJP wants to exhaust the farmer’s resistance. The BJP also believes that by repeating its lies about the 4 laws, people will believe that they are right.
With one in five people in the country electing their state governments over the next few weeks the BJP leadership led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is repeating the lie that they will ‘double’ farmer incomes by 2022. Nothing can be further from the truth. With rising diesel prices and declining fertilizer subsidies, farmers’ real incomes are continuously declining. There has been no meaningful increase in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) to compensate for this. Taking apart the MSP mechanism is the core of the BJP governments efforts to close existing local agricultural markets and replace them with private markets and direct corporate purchases. In the first instance this would lead to subordination of farmers by the largest corporate houses of the country and across the world but in the long term it will also lead to many farmers losing their land. Ultimately everyone in the country will be a loser except the ruling class and the three farm laws will lead to destroying the limited food security we have been able to build in the past several decades.
In addition to the three agricultural laws the BJP government is engaged in a persistent attack on livelihood of the worst off. The significantly below inflation increase in the NREGA wage for 2021-22 will not just further force into destitution workers worst affected by the pandemic caused draconian lockdown but dampen aggregate demand too supressing any possibility of an economic recovery.
The lack of an economic recovery is also imperilled by the virtual stripping of the Minimum Wage and all other worker rights through the four labour codes. The labour codes cement the onslaught on the working class and make the attack on wages and livelihood complete.
Advancing the unity between workers and farmers is imperative.
The farmers struggle is our struggle.