The United Steelworkers Local 2009

are proud to stand in solidarity with farmers from Punjab and across India as they stand together against injustices.  We implore the Indian Government to stop using violence against the protestors and instead engage in a meaningful dialogue with farmers with the goal of achieving a mutually satisfactory resolve.

As you are aware In September 2020, during the Pandemic, Indian Government passed three laws deregulating the agriculture sector in India.  It is widely accepted that India is still a developing country where close to 60-70% of the population survives on farming and the majority of farmers are poor and small-time farmers with limited land holdings (less than five acres).  The Government did this without consulting any farmers’ organizations anywhere in India.

There are five points that concisely explain why farmers are protesting against the new agricultural laws;

1)          Farmers fear the ending of minimum support price (MSP). Farmers demand that government include (MSP) in law with a commitment that it will not end.

2)          Fear of the end of the market. The new laws have not talked about abolishing the markets, but farmers are afraid that the laws may destroy the markets. In this, the aadhatis of the market are also supporting the farmers and they say that the markets will be saved, only then the farmer will be able to sell their crop. Farmers say there is an average market tax inside the market, while there is no tax outside. This is how you can buy outside the market to save taxes. Farmers demand that the tax system be fixed.

3)          Fear of going into the hands of corporate families of agriculture. Corporates will purchase at less than minimum support (MSP) prices to earn profit. Farmers demand the government to ensure that the crop is not sold for less than MSP.

4)          Farmers fear of jamakhoori (hoarding). After the end of the Essential Commodities Act, the arrival of capitalists or corporate households in the agriculture sector will increase deposits and it will harm small farmers because the stock limit of essential items (potato, onion, tomato, pulses) is now over.  Anyone will be able to stock as much as they can. 90-95% of farmers have no means to build their own cold storage ... but large corporations do.

5)          Farmers do not have the right to go to court. If a farmer gets into a dispute with a private company, they cannot go to the courts.  No legal recourse for 50-60% of India’s population in case a big corporation exploits them. It will some local Government official that will resolve and arbitrate the disputes.  Farmers believe that the Government official will always favour the private company. They demand that they are allowed to go to court when there is a dispute just like every other citizen of India.

So finally, Indian farmers from the state of Punjab decided to take their protest to New Delhi, the Indian Capital, some walking and traveling on their tractors and carriages hundreds of miles to Delhi.  But instead of having a safe journey to their own nation’s capital, they were met with numerous police barricades, water cannons, tear gas canisters, and even dug-up and destroyed national highways in order to thwart their march to the capital.

Despite all the obstacles and some deaths along the way, they got to Delhi’s outskirts, only to find a heavy police and military presence in Delhi and even deeper and larger holes dug up in the highways approaching Delhi.  

This has become the biggest protest ever! Delhi is basically under a modern-day siege.  This is a revolution. Farmers are camped out for miles on end on the roads approaching Delhi and have brought enough food with them on their trolleys (carriages behind the tractors) to last them many months.   The mainstream Indian media is shining nothing but a negative light on the farmers’ protests so far from every angle possible.

Farmer protests so far have been amazingly peaceful and united.  The farmers have stood strong. After being beaten daily, they still have not fought back, instead, they have cleaned up after themselves and fed the police and the army. What protest and war have you seen where they don’t fight back, feed the enemy and still get called terrorists. They are not after government money or big riches but instead just want to be respected for the hard work they do as farmers and continue feeding the world.

Over the years the labour movement has come together to build better working lives for all. It is equally important that we stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to support each other no matter where we live.

As members of the USW Local 2009 we understand firsthand the importance of freedom of expression and the right to engage in a peaceful protest.

We implore the Indian Government to stop using violence against the protestors and instead engage in a meaningful dialogue with farmers with the goal of achieving a mutually satisfactory resolve.

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