By Marcus Alegra
Using the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic while actually responding to concerns of the New Depression, the old Indian State seeks to attack the hard-earned rights of workers by extending the length of workdays from 8 hours to 12-hour days. Since Indian workers are already expected to work 6 days a week; instead of a 48-hours per week, workers would be forced to work 72 hours.
The Indian working class won the 8-hour workday in 1948, and like workers the world over, this concession was not granted without a fight. The reactionaries find excuses in the pandemic to slash the already insufficient rights of the working class to compensate for the loss of profits caused by a shrinking workforce.
The 8-hour workday and the struggles around it are celebrated every year on International Workers Day, and as the New Depression worsens the workers must escalate their fight. In India, the ruling class has already proved to be the most extreme in wielding these repressive measures against the people during the economic and health crisis.
Like all reactionary governments, the Indian government headed by Narendra Modi puts production at the expense of public well-being in the interest of driving up profits. They claim that the pandemic restrictions and the curfews, (which do nothing at all to confront a virus), have slowed down production in essential industries, so they aim to shift the burden onto workers in these factories, exposing them for longer and working them harder in worse conditions.
The amended law will not do anything to combat increased unemployment, as India already suffered mass unemployment before the pandemic and shutdowns have only made things worse, it will simply force those who do work to suffer more. The ruling class is going on the offensive to make sure their profits are not compromised, and in the process, many more workers will choose to commit to the revolution, which is today concretely expressed in the ongoing People’s War.