For Indian Jesuit, the Catholic Church stands with 150 million workers on strike against Modi

September 6, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

ProtestNew Delhi, September 09, 2015: “India’s central government led by the BJP* is not responding to workers’ demands. The latter could lose their jobs if the proposed law in Parliament is adopted,” said Fr Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit priest who heads the Prashant Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), western India.

“The reforms would result in grave injustices,” he told AsiaNews. For this reason, “The Catholic Church in India stands with workers”, 150 million of whom were out on a 24-hour strike yesterday.

Hawkers, domestic workers and daily wage labourers joined the strike to demand an increase in the minimum wage.

“Throughout India clashes with the police have occurred. The government does not understand the reality of workers in the country,” he said.

Ten of India’s largest unions, in the banking, transport and manufacturing sectors, took strike action yesterday against the economic policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was elected last year on a promise of boosting growth and jobs.

In fact, in the second quarter of this year, Indian growth rate was lower than expected, 7 per cent instead of 7.5.

“For workers, the government’s plans are too favourable to big business and jeopardise their future facilitating redundancies and the closing of non-manufacturing firms,” Fr Prakash said.

Unions object to government plans to sell off stakes in state-run companies and shut down unproductive factories. It also wants to exempt small factories, which have up to 40 workers, from the labour laws.

Unions say this would take away the job security of most of the workforce, weaken collective bargaining and union influence in the banking, manufacturing, construction and coal mining sectors.

“The Catholic Church of India believes that the protesters’ demands are legitimate,” Fr Prakash said. “I do not have the perfect recipe to ensure a better future for workers, but the strike yesterday certainly serves to remind the government that it has to listen to them before implementing any law that changes their current living conditions.”

– asianews

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