Sanjha morcha members upset over Mann’s no-show at meet

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Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s no-show at a scheduled meeting with members of Sanjha Mazdoor Morcha, a joint platform of eight labour unions of Punjab, on Wednesday hasn’t gone down well with the Morcha. Instead of the chief minister, the Morcha members had a meeting with a panel of three ministers – Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema, Information and Public Relations Minister Aman Arora, and Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal.

“The ministers told us that as the CM was out of town, he had deputed them to lend an ear to the Morcha. However, our talks weren’t a success, as the ministers couldn’t make a decision on their own. They couldn’t give us a satisfactory reply. They couldn’t announce anything on behalf of the CM. After that we walked out of the meeting in protest,” said Lachhman Singh Sewewala, general secretary of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU).

On Sunday, the CM had gone on a two-day tour to Chennai and Hyderabad to attract investors to Punjab.

This is the second time the Punjab CM had given time for a meeting, but he failed to keep his word, said Tarsem Peter, president of Pendu Khet Mazdoor Union. “On October 3 also, our meeting with the CM regarding the pending demands was cancelled by the CMO at the eleventh hour. After that we weren’t given any time for another meeting. On November 30, Sanjha Mazdoor Morcha had organised a massive protest outside Dreamland colony in Sangrur where the CM has a rented accommodation. Police had also cane-charged us on November 30.

Later we were told that the CM would hold a meeting with us on December 21 on our demands, but again he reneged on his promise. And we are not happy about it. Of course, we have taken offence at his no-show,” Peter added.

Gulzar Goria of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Sabha said, “It seems that the Punjab CM is not sensitive to ‘mazdoors’ and their problems, although he had stated that his government is of ‘mazdoors’.”

Kulwant Selbrah, president of Krantikari Pendu Khet Mazdoor Sabha, said, “Bhagwant Mann had stated during the poll campaign that his government will run from villages, but now he is busy attracting corporates in other states/countries to invest in Punjab. He must ensure that industries don’t pollute our environment, as already people are fighting a big battle in Zira constituency of Ferozepur district to get a ‘polluting’ liquor factory closed.”

PKMU president Zora Singh Nasrali said, “Mazdoor unions had only one meeting with the Punjab CM on June 7. Apart from that we had meetings with Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal and Harpal Singh Cheema separately, but our demands haven’t seen the light of day.”

A few of the demands of Mazdoor unions are – they want a minimum wage of Rs 700 per day and a daily wage employment for all days under MGNREGA. “One-third of panchayati land meant for agriculture should be given at nominal rates to Dalit families for farming. At present, the price is very high,” Sewewala said.
Nasrali added that they also want compensation for damaged cotton crop. “The Sanjha Mazdoor Morcha has also demanded inclusion in cooperative societies so that labourers can get loans from these societies.”

Meanwhile, the Cabinet sub-committee – comprising Minister Harpal Singh Cheema, Minister Aman Arora and Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal – on Wednesday in a press statement said that it held a meeting to listen and resolve all the legitimate issues of various unions and associations – regarding landless labourers and employees hired through contractors, and reservation for Schedule Tribes.

It was the maiden meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee constituted on the directions of the CM to find the best possible solution to the demands of Theka Mulazim Sangharsh Morcha, Zameen Prapati Sangharsh Committee, and Gazetted & Non-Gazetted SC BC Employees’ Welfare Federation Punjab.

The meeting at Punjab Bhawan here lasted for more than three hours, said the press statement.



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