61st Anniversary of Historic 11th July 1960 Strike
11th July 2021 is the 61st anniversary of the historic 5 days strike of central govt employees. The main demands were Need Based Minimum Wage and DA according to cost of living index.
These were not new demands. The Tripartite Conference of govt, employers and workers in 1957 had already accepted the justification of need based minimum wage. It was to be implemented, but govt refused to implement. Demand of DA according to increase in cost of living index was raised before 1946 Central Pay Commission but was denied. Govt was not prepared even for a constructive discussion. Strike notice issued to start in June was postponed to July to enable the govt to start discussion. But Nehru govt was not prepared for discussion. Instead was determined to crush it utilising ruthless govt machinery.
The strike spread like wildfire in all departments of the central govt. It was massive in P&T, AGs Office, Railways etc. The barbaric Essential Service Maintenance Ordinance was promulgated, with six months jail for participation in strike and one year jail for instigation. More than one lakh were arrested and jailed, including central trade union leaders and M.P.s. 17 comrades became martyrs.
Strike was withdrawn after 5 days, unable to face the cruel attack launched by the brutal govt machinery. Fight against victimisation continued long 4 – 5 years, till all were taken back in service.
Govt was under the wrong impression that the central employees’ movement is weakened and there will be no struggle in future. But they were mistaken. A mighty strike took place on 19th September 1968 on the same demands.
I was a participant in the historic 1960 strike and remember the brutality with which the govt hounded the striking workers including women.
On this 61st anniversary of 1960 strike we pay homage to the martyrs. Struggle is to continue for Need Based Minimum wage. DA has been frozen for the last 18 months for CG employees and pensioners since January 2020. PSUs are, one after another, being sold to corporates. Labour laws enacted after sustained struggles are thrown to the winds. Lakhs of vacancies in govt departments are kept unfilled. Kisans are on struggle for months for their existence. Central trade unions are on struggle path. United sustained struggle is the only way before the working class. 1960 strike memory will certainly be inspiration for future struggles.
(A book on the 1960 strike was being prepared to be released on the 61st anniversary of the strike, but due to Covid pandemic, it is being postponed for some time. Hope to publish it this year itself).
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