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May Day: Trade unions demand free universal vaccination, protection of jobs

Trade unions, which held a joint meeting earlier this week, have on May Day decided to press ahead with their earlier 10-point charter of demands from the governments in the Centre and states. (REUTERS)Premium
Trade unions, which held a joint meeting earlier this week, have on May Day decided to press ahead with their earlier 10-point charter of demands from the governments in the Centre and states. (REUTERS)

  • Trade unions observed a token protest in industrial belts on May Day, and said workers' unions were fighting a genuine battle seeking their right for fair wage, decent living, and dignity of labour

NEW DELHI : At least 10 central trade unions have vowed to continue their fight against the government, marking May Day on Saturday. They demanded job protection and free universal vaccination for Indians amid the massive surge in coronavirus cases.

Trade unions observed a token protest in industrial belts on May Day, and said workers' unions were fighting a genuine battle seeking their right for fair wage, decent living, and dignity of labour. Amid a massive second wave of covid-19, the unions are now demanding universal free vaccinations for all and opposed any move to market link vaccine pricing.

The unions, which held a joint meeting earlier this week, also decided to press ahead with their earlier 10-point charter of demands from the governments in the Centre and states. They added “scrapping of the pronounced vaccine policy and ensuring free mass universal vaccination for all" is a necessity as lakhs of people are getting infected every day and thousands are losing their battle to the virus.

The unions also demanded that government should consider giving Rs7,500 per month cash transfer to poor families, besides free ration during the pandemic.

“Today, on May Day, we the working people, raise our demands and march towards emancipation," said A.K. Padmanabhan, vice president of Centre of Indian Trade Unions.

“We want dignity of labour, we demand jobs and fair wage, we are demanding social security," said Amarjeet Kaur, general secretary of AITUC. She reiterated that anti-labour policies need to be scrapped and demanded that job creation should be a priority. She said the new vaccination policy of the Union government is unfair and will do injustice to the people.

In the charter of demands, the unions are demanding “adequate hospital beds, oxygen and other medical facilities to meet the covid surge, scrapping of anti-people discriminatory pro-corporate vaccine policy, and the strengthening of public health infrastructure, including recruiting the necessary health personnel".

They also sought that any order under Disaster Management Act issued by any authority imposing restrictions on movement, curfew, etc. must accompany strict order on all employers and all concerned banning retrenchment, wage-cut and eviction from residences, etc. and the same must be strictly enforced".

The trade unions also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week. “There is serious shortage of vaccines, testing facilities, hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen, medicines and above all trained personnel—doctors, nurses and other medical staff. The front line workers and employees are overworked and lack adequate protection," the 10 unions wrote to the PM.

The unions also urged the central government not to shift responsibility to states when it comes to managing the healthcare crisis and appealed not to allow the blame game to flourish.

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