‘Largest strikes in Labour history’

Unite sends solidarity as Indian farmers protests pass 100 days

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Since November, thousands of poor farmers from across India have camped on the outskirts of New Delhi in protest of new farm laws. 

The protestors want right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal laws that will strip away already scant state support for farmers and leave Indian agriculture wide open for private investment.  

More than 60 per cent of India’s 1.3 billion people depend on the sector for their livelihoods, despite it only accounting for 15 per cent of the economy. Put simply, the vast majority of India’s farmers are desperately poor.  

For years, farmers have suffered high suicide rates because of endemic debt and bankruptcy within the sector. They say the new farming laws will only make a dire situation much worse.   

Modi’s government believes the corporatisation of Indian farming will drive growth and encourage investment. But the protestors are adamant that the removal of state protections, including minimum crop prices, will leave thousands upon thousands of very poor subsistence farmers defenceless against big agro-businesses looking to take advantage at scale. 

Unite director of international Simon Dubbins said, “The Indian government’s plans to impose new laws not only threaten the livelihoods of farmers and farm workers across India, but will also be disastrous for the welfare of the poorest people in India.  

“They are a clear indication of the far-right route the Modi government is taking. This, along with the extreme attacks on workers’ rights overall in the country, are nothing but an agenda for big business and short-term capital.  

“The farmers strikes have been the largest in labour history and from very beginning the Modi government has acted to repress workers voices through any means possible, from the shutting down of the internet to violence.  

“Unite joined the international community in expressing its disgust at the violence that the farmers were met with during their protests, and we will continue to stand with the workers and trade unions of India in their fight for social justice.  

“Unite stands in solidarity with the Indian workers and demands the Modi government respect the rights of the farmers to protest and the rights of workers to organise.”  

By Ryan Fletcher

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