Monday, September 9, 2013

The eternal strike in Kashmir

Indian cops in Srinagar, Kashmir arrest a striking government worker while other strikers  hotfoot it out of there to avoid arrest & the water cannons spewing toxic purple dye. The water cannons cause a number of injuries including to eyes, internal organs, & broken bones.

These labor protests by government workers in Kashmir have gone on for a few years now without resolution. Workers are demanding payment of arrears in wages, that all temporary contract employees by made permanent, & to raise the retirement age by two years since India has no social security net. These are fairly modest demands that don’t require a revolution to achieve.

India has a relatively combative trade union movement; the workers in Kashmir have been intransigent in their demands. In the past few years alone there have been repeated one-day strikes where millions of workers stopped dead in their tracks. So what the hell is the matter that a simple demand like back wages goes unaddressed? This kind of problem is not at all particular to Kashmir; it could be called the central dilemma of the labor movement today in every country.

Union officials bring workers out on strike for one day to flex a little muscle but not to actually accomplish anything since the officialdom is so integrated into the power elite--or just can’t keep itself from drooling around them. That way workers can blow off a little steam but not actually kick ass. The concept of “an injury to one is an injury to all” & of active solidarity with other unionists has been relegated to romanticism. As union officials see it, it’s reckless endangerment of the perks they get for enforcing labor peace in their social contract with employers. They’re a sorry lot & at some point they’re going to all have to be bounced out on their ears or their asses. Whichever hits the ground first! The average union bureaucrat wouldn’t know solidarity if it bit him (let’s be frank, most of them are men but women bureaucrats are no improvement) in the ass.

The government workers of Kashmir have fought alone long enough; they’ve taken more than enough of that purple dye up their snoots. Time for some real solidarity of the kind that won’t take no for an answer.

(Photo by Rouf Bhat/AFP/Getty Images)

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