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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

‘Fixed price for paddy sowing’: Farm labourers’ unions unhappy with Samyukta Kisan Morcha approach

Sources claimed that farm labourers' unions are unhappy with the response of farmer unions over the issue of alleged discrimination against farm labourers in Punjab.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
Updated: June 13, 2021 12:29:45 am
Some labour unions have claimed that some farmers and villages in Punjab were fixing labour prices for paddy sowing arbitrarily in "a self-styled manner". (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh/Representational)

A silent discontent is brewing between farmer unions and farm labourers, both of who are camping at Delhi’s borders at the moment to protest against the three contentious agriculture laws that were passed by the Parliament in September last year.

Sources claimed that farm labourer unions are unhappy with the response of farmer unions over the issue of alleged discrimination against farm labourers in Punjab. Some labour unions have claimed that some farmers and villages in Punjab were fixing labour prices for paddy sowing arbitrarily in “a self-styled manner”.

“There are some cases that have come to our knowledge so far. There is a need to take a strict stand against any village that has decided to fix paddy sowing prices without consultation with farm labourers first. These villages go to the extent of passing resolutions to boycott any farmer or labourer who does not abide by their paddy sowing prices. This is economic discrimination against farm labourers, who are poor,” said Lachman Singh of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, which is closely associated with the Bhartiya Kisan Union Ugrahan.

Singh added that the farmer and the labourer unions were on the same page when it came to the three contentious farm laws, as it affected them equally. But when it came to highlighting issues of discrimination, then their voices had started to slightly differ.

“Farmers and labourers are both on the same page in protesting against the three contentious farm laws. But there are some differences too. This agitation can send out the wrong impression too that the farmers, who have taken on India’s Prime Minister, can do whatever they want when it came to their farm labourers as well. There is still a long way to go with respect to equality between the farmers and labourers. There are big landlords involved who are pushing for anti-farm labour resolutions.”

Earlier this week, Sanjukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) had issued a statement against such ‘discriminatory’ resolutions passed by any panchayat.

“We have issued a statement against such discriminatory resolutions. We are all for the unity of farmers and labourers. We have to fight against the Central government jointly. We have asked villagers to settle the issue of paddy sowing labour prices by holding talks with labourers,” said Jagmohan Singh.

However, Bhagwant Singh Smaon of Punjab Mazdoor Mukti Morcha accused the farmer unions of not doing enough to either highlight or end the alleged caste discrimination.

Smaon said, “I am not satisfied with SKM statement. They should have given a call to boycott any village or farmer who passed such anti-labourer resolution. But farmer unions are not taking this issue up seriously. We all know that Bhartiya Janta Party has been working very hard to make inroads in Punjab and is focusing on Dalit farm labourers. We have seen how there are regular attempts to exploit the differences between farmers and labourers for political gain. Our organisation supports farm agitation. But the farmer unions too should focus on labour laws.

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