Ten major central trade unions including the INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU,, AIUTUC,, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU,, LPF and UTUC have written a detailed letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, lambasting the government for not being able to successfully handle the second waver of Covid-19 in the country. The unions have submitted an eleven-point charter of their demands, urging the government to immediately act on it. The RSS affiliate BMS or the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, has been found conspicously missing from signing the letter. The content of the letter is given below for the benefit of the viewers of www.indianpsu.com –
Shri Narendra Modi
Hon’ble Prime Minister
Government of India,
The nation is in the grip of the second wave of covid-19 pandemic and it is your responsibility,as the head of the executive, to cement a proactive unity of all our people and to meet the challenge posed by this calamity.
It is necessary for all sections to feel your government is taking care of them, especially the toiling masses, who are forced to leave their homes in search of livelihood. They suffered untold miseries last year as a result of sudden lock down and their plight continues to this day.
The frontline workers, Anganwadi Workers, ASHA, sanitation workers who have to deal with survey of covid-19 patients and to clear their refuse, have been burdened with work and have been given fake promises of compensation. They cannot be treated like this by the government itself.
What we unfortunately see is a complete lack of planning, callous, discriminatory policies and despicable blame game launched by your party to destabilise non-BJP state governments, when the need of the hour is proactive unity as stated in the beginning of this representation. In the midst of this, the vaccine policy announced
by the government puts corporate profits above the precious lives of people. Today, it is crucial to strictly regulate, under direct government supervision, the entire vaccination process to ensure that the entire population is vaccinated within a definite time frame. Vaccine production must be urgently scaled up; it must be imported as necessary. But the government is succumbing to the profit hungry international drug mafia and liberalised vaccine sales. The new vaccine policy liberalises the vaccine sale by deregulating the prices through a discriminatory process that too without taking any concrete measures for augmenting availability.
The policy that the state governments have to procure the vaccines from the open market with higher price of Rs 400/Rs 600 per dose as announced by the two vaccine companies in India. They will be thrown into unhealthy competition with each other and also with the private sector hospitals which are also free to procure the
vaccines at Rs 600/ Rs 1200. It is atrocious that the Serum Institute has announced Rs 400 per dose of vaccine for the state governments and Rs 600 for private hospitals in India. It may be noted that Covisheild is priced at 1.78 Euro (Rs 160) in Europe and at $4 (Rs 300) in the US and Bangladesh, at Rs.237 in Brazil, at Rs. 226 in UK.
This pro-corporate deregulation on vaccine and other essential ingredients of pandemic management will further facilitate hoarding and black marketing which is already going on in case of essential medicines like Remdesivir and oxygen. The Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and Federations demands the government to
withdraw the new pro-corporate as well as discriminatory vaccine policy and take immediate measures to ensure 100% procurement of the vaccine, adequate supply of vaccines to the states, free of cost, utilizing the PM care fund. The Govt, sufficiently empowered by Disaster Management Act must not abdicate its responsibility of
prioritizing protection of the lives of the people during this grave pandemic, over profiteering by vaccine-pharmaceutical barons.
The joint platform of trade unions point out that it is the public sector companies that are, as ever, coming to the rescue of the nation in this critical situation. It is the public sector steel companies that are producing and supplying oxygen; it is the Indian Railways that is transporting Oxygen to the needy states. We also remind the government that it was the public sector financial institutions in our country that have protected the country against the 2008 world crisis. The joint platform of trade unions demand that the government must immediately stop its mindless privatisation drive. We demand that immediate measures be taken to strengthen
the existing public sector medicine and oxygen production units which are already playing a frontline role in producing/supplying oxygen and other necessities and establish new ones to ensure universal and comprehensive public health care. The defense production facilities should be put in use as they had been in the earlier wave and had done commendable job.
Ever since the first wave of the pandemic, you have used the consequent curbs as pretext to push through many anti-worker, anti-farmer legislations, unconstitutional and discriminatory legislations such as CAA, the New Education Policy and rank pro-corporate measures such as tax concessions for them, wholesale privatization of
public sector entities of financial, manufacturing, power, defence, transport sectors, the launch of opaque PMCARES fund. All on the basis of your majority in the parliament.
Nearly the entire toiling masses are expressing their opposition to these measures, but you have shown scant regard for meaningful dialogue with any of the sectors involved. The obvious taming of watchdog agencies created by our Constitution as well as the media (social, electronic as well as print) has led to your government being labelled “elected autocracy” in the democratic world.
We demand therefore that 4 labour codes and 3 farm laws be repealed immediately and thereafter enter into genuine dialogue with the stake holders. Further at this crucial juncture of speedily unfolding humanitarian crisis, throwing lives and livelihood of the working people in total jeopardy, the Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and Sectoral Federations places and reiterates the following demands for urgent positive action from your end:
1. Ramp up vaccine production and ensure universal free vaccination within a definite time frame. Ensure free supply of oxygen in the crises as in present situation.
2. Ensure adequate hospital beds, oxygen and other medical facilities to meet the Covid surge
3. Scrap anti-people discriminatory pro-corporate Vaccine Policy
4. Strengthen public health infrastructure including recruiting the necessary health personnel
5. Any order under Disaster Management Act issued by any authority imposing restrictions in movement, curfew etc must accompany strict order on all employers and all concerned banning retrenchment, wage-cut and eviction from residences etc and same must be strictly enforced.
6. Scrap anti-worker Labour Codes and anti-people Farm Laws and Electricity Bill
7. Stop Privatization and Disinvestment of PSUs and Government departments
8. Cash transfer of Rs 7500 per month for all non income tax paying families
9. 10 kg free food grains per person per month for the next six months
10. Ensure non-Covid patients get effective treatment in government hospitals
11. Ensure availability of protective gear, equipments etc for all health and frontline workers and those engaged in pandemic-management work including ASHAs and anganwadi employees along with comprehensive insurance coverage for them all