Rallies, promises of legislation for workers mark May Day

By IANS, New Delhi : May Day was observed across the country Tuesday with promises of social legislation for the unorganised sector and a torch rally by sex workers in Kolkata demanding their social rights.

In its message, the Left-affiliated Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) pledged solidarity with the working class and the peoples of the socialist countries for steadfastly holding aloft the banner of socialism.

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Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav said he would oppose downsizing the workforce in the Indian Railways.

“I have written to the prime minister to introduce a waiver against this rule in the railways,” Lalu Prasad said, adding that the rule of reducing the workforce in every ministry by 20 percent should be scrapped.

“This rule came during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” he said.

In Kolkata, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), the apex body of sex workers in West Bengal, held a torch rally. The organisation has been fighting for the rights of sex workers since it was set up in 1995.

“We organised the torch rally involving all the sex workers of Sonagachi and many other districts with the hope to bring them under one roof of equality,” Mahasweta Mukherjee, a spokesperson of DMSC, told IANS.

Workers in India first observed May Day in 1927, with demonstrations in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay.

For 80 years now and with as many may days, over 400 million labourers in the unorganised sector, constituting 92 percent of country’s workforce and contributing to 60 percent of the GDP, live in the soft underbelly of the society in almost total invisibility and deprivation.

Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes said besides enacting a legislation for providing social security to the unorganised sector, “the government wants to effectively implement some of the important legislations enacted for their welfare”.

A parliamentary committee has said though the government has enacted several laws and schemes for the welfare of workers in the organised sector, “much is needed to be done”.

The committee recommended that the government should take urgent steps to bring in a comprehensive legislation for unorganised workers “without loss of time”.