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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Unity of Women


                                           "Munnaar" a small, placid, foggy place in Kerala state in INDIAN subcontinent, famous as tourist destination for its scenic beauty. Through out the year the place is hit with loads of tourists, foreign and native. One of the famous tourist spots in South India, Munnar had been a tiara on Kerala's Tourism Development Board's achievement.

                                              If you think this is going to be another travel blog or something of that sort, you guys are thoroughly mistaken. B'coz i would like to call your attention to this place for a special reason. This is a glance to the story of downtrodden, how they arise fighting the odds. Its about the story of women warriors who stood their ground to attain the goal, who brought  "Munnaar" to a stand still for nine days. "Penbillai Orumai"(Unity of women) is what they called themselves.
Courtesy: Indian Express

 The Cause

                                   Kannan Devan Hills Plantation(KDHP) that was company's name owned by TATA group (TATA Tea Ltd.). Company was supposed to be employee friendly by giving away more than 60% of shares to their employees but all that notion of employee-friendly went out the window when a group of around 5000 plantation workers largely women, went for an all out strike against the management. They were seemed to be very angry against the management for the kind of payment they were receiving. Their demand were genuine. They get 230 rupees per day for physical labour they had been doing. They pluck around 45-50 kg of tea per person . Their day starts at 8:00 and ends at 5:00 PM. You need to consider the cold condition they were working around the year as it is a hill station. Their condition was very poor and critical. They were trying very hard to make their ends meet. They don't get any bonus. They want an increase in wage and bonus like any other worker across the world.

                                    In Kerala, how much a daily wage worker earns is double the amount they were getting. In a state like Kerala where unionisation is complete and saturated, existence of such a condition itself is a shame to the concept of "trade union".The very existence of trade unions were betrayed by this sad occurrence. Workers had to go through such a hardship to get what is rightfully theirs. And the best part was that, the workers who were on strike, mostly women, never trusted the trade unions and any politicians for that matter. Their fight was against management and they did it with out any help from trade unionists and politicians


                              Many political parties try to hijack the victory of their 9 days long strike by trying to project to the world that these workers were incited by us to fight for their right. They cooed and humiliated all the politicians who try to enter the area and join the strike on the last days of the strike lending a helping hand when they were sure that these strike is going to leave an everlasting impression on the mind of the people of the Kerala and Tamilnadu and workers were going to attain it without their help. These politicians and trade unions were in a position that were paralleled by the situation faced by Church in Dan Brown's "Davinci Code", when they found out Jesus Christ had an offspring. Like wise these common yet uncommon people forced these trade unions and politicians that its time to rethink their strategy and position if they want to continue their existence. One of the  main reason their anger was directed towards trade unions were that they blamed trade unions for not standing with them when they asked for their help to sort out the matter of an increase in their daily wages. Striking workers genuinely thought Union members were in the same boat with the management.

                                  But the position Police department took all this 9 days of strike were commendable. There were no violence from the part of strikers and from Police's as well. Media persons were also properly covered the strikers' demand from the day one itself. Strike by the common workers demanding their right with out any trade union and any political party's banner was already a hit among house hold. People started to talk about it, thus political parties started to notice the event. Trade union members who disowned and mocked the strike at first, stormed the place with their arms open. But it was already too late and all the drama unfolded at the end were properly broad casted by the media to every living room in the state. People laughed at the clowns who were lining up to own the responsibility of such a great victory.

                                   We don't know what is going to happen at least for now? but one thing is sure, Kerala, a state with a long tradition of communism and socialism, this victory of common people against all odds re-concrete the fact the we haven't lost that touch after all.