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Killing Of Trade Unions: Strangulation Of Freedom

By Prabhat Sharan

15 June, 2010
The Verdict Weekly

Cries of the spirit of human freedom once used to echo the historic Azad Maidan, in South Mumbai. Today the sprawling ground is silent. Possibly, awaiting, for mechanized digging machines to ravage and pillage, the rolling green ground in the name of business development.

The cries of free speech and dissent have been effectively strangulated. The snuffing out of protests portends the dystopian future for the Indian sub-continent.

Corporate dictatorship is gradually extending its tentacles to envelope the country and its people. The recent de-recognition of unions and sacking of protesting leaders by the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry and Air India management (call it NACIL or by any other name it does not make much difference to the mess created by the civil aviation ministry) is a case in point.

There are no two different opinions to the fact that the timing of the protesting airline employees was a major tactical blunder. No doubt the unions behaved in an inhuman manner by striking work even as the ashes of the air crash and the charred skeletons of the passengers were still being collected. But no less inhuman was the attitude of the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry and Air India management towards the protesting employees.

The AI move smacks of chicanery and servility towards their minister who had desperately trying to create situations for the employees so as to sell off the coveted assets and drain off all the blood, bones and flesh of the airline in the name of rejuvenating it.

Whether the protesting union leaders walked into the trap laid out, by the aviation minister and AI management is beside the point, the graver issue is the diktat, ‘ No employee should come out with any kind of statement on the functioning of the management or even have the temerity to question the decisions.’

In other words there will be zero tolerance for all dissents. There will be a zero tolerance for anybody opposing the curtailment of their rights. There will be a zero tolerance for anybody who attempt to point out wrongs taking place in the society.

And there will be a zero tolerance for those who place people and independence of human spirit on a higher plane than the business interests of corporate.

The ruling class wants to bolster its military and police powers and to limit the ability of workers to organize and defend themselves from corporate attack.

And it is futile to expect anything from the corporate establishment media which ironically tom toms the most about freedom of press and freedom of speech like a C-grade film hero.

The corporate establishment media wrongly termed as “mainstream media,” has deliberately inculcated in the working class an illusory identity of its thinking pattern with the middle class-the class which profits from hierarchical distribution of wealth.

And thus, those who dare to rip these illusions or raise their voice against oppression or the ravaging business interests are termed as “dangerous individuals.” The corporates, through a plethora of acts have managed to erode the rights of people.

It is these kinds of orders, that has made Azad Maidan once the symbol of indomitable spirit of human being, the spirit of free speech and freedom of expression, a ground of silent bitter tears.