As in previous years we will celebrate Mayday 2012 with enthusiasm and a firm resolve to continue the struggle for securing our rights and entitlements as workers and citizens.
It has been twenty two years since the formation of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan on the 1st of May 1990. Every year we come together at the Patia Ka Chowda mela grounds in Bhim to celebrate May Day in the form of a “Mazdoor Mela”. This has now taken on the texture of an annual local mela which provides ordinary people with a platform to raise, discuss, and reflect on issues of concern in an informal and open atmosphere of celebration. A month long set of activities, which may include mini yatras, block level sammelans, dharnas, and meetings in the surrounding blocks, culminate in the Mazdoor Mela at Bhim. We write to invite you to join us in Bhim on the evening of the 30th of April or in the morning of the 1st of May.
“Har Haath Ko kaam Do- Kaam Ka Pura Daam Do”
An important focus this year will be to intensify the campaign for better implementation of the Employment Guarantee Act. The government is trying to destroy the NREGA on the assumption that people do not want to work. There has been skewed implementation of the Act in different parts of the country. Even in the better administered areas there have been major shortcomings in implementation. Those seeking their rights have applied, petitioned, and even taken to the streets to seek redress of their grievances. Industrialists, big landlords, contractors and other private entities do not want NREGA to be a success because the NREGA has increased the wages for laborers which obviously is a ‘loss’ to these entities. In this debate we also want to make it clear that NREGA is not in opposition to the small farmer as the small farmer is also a part-time NREGA worker. We believe that NREGA therefore can actually be designed to be a support structure for the small and middle farmers.
It is necessary that we work towards the formation of workers unions to establish the collective voice of the unorganized sector. Many groups across the country have been working to unionize NREGA workers. This year also we have decided to focus on the formation of unions in different Panchayats and Blocks. For those of us who have been strong proponents of the NREGA, unionizing of the NREGA workers is a great opportunity to create a powerful movement not just for strengthening the Employment Guarantee Act, but also for the larger demands such as the payment of minimum wages, the demand for the “right to work”. For this reason, the Mela this year will also be planned as a “Union Banao- NREGA Bachao Sammelan”.
“Kamane Wala Khayega, Lootne Wala Jayega, Ab Naya Jamana Ayega!”
Another focus this year will be a demand for universal pension rights and preparation for the Pension Parishad from May 7-11, 2012 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
While Mayday signifies the coming together in celebration of the dignity of the worker, it is also a time to collectively resolve and strategise for further action. We hope that you and/or your organisation will join us, and help build much-needed solidarities. It would also be an opportunity to collectively work out strategies for creating political and workers platforms where we can fight with a common voice and resolve.
The Mela will begin on the 30th of April at Bhim, Patia Ka Chowda, for an evening of plays, songs and films emerging from people’s struggles. We would also visit the School For Democracy which is nearing its completion. The school has been envisioned as a place of democratic learning which would use effective tools of political education along with a focus on defining a meaningful manifestation of participatory democracy. We will hold a meeting at the School For Democracy campus where our road map for the next year will be drawn and discussed. This will be followed by the Sammelan on the 1st, which will culminate in a rally to the main market area of Bhim on the 1st evening. Apart from thousands of workers of the area, the Mazdoor Mela will be attended by friends and colleagues from other parts of the state and country.
“Ye Rally Hai, Aur Rela Hai, -Ye Mazdooron Ka Mela Hai!”
As in the past there will be food stalls, cheap clothes, select toys, exhibits of books and materials on various campaigns, free medical check-ups and allopathic, homeopathic and ayurveda medical aid. If any of you would like to contribute to the exhibits/stalls, do let us know.
In any case, for those of you who plan to join us, we would appreciate it if you could let us know your travel plans and the number of people who are likely to attend from your organization so that we can organise things better. As the Mela is self financed, no financial support can be provided, but food will be available at cheap rates.
Bhim is 65 KMs South Of Beawar on the Delhi- Bombay highway (NH 8). Beawar is a major railway station on the Delhi Ahmadabad route. In case you need to talk to us on the phone, you could call :02951-250180, or 02951-250655, or 9414003247 (Shanker), or 9929519361 (Devdungri).
We look forward to meeting you in Bhim.
Aruna and MKSS Saathies