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Medha Patkar expresses solidarity with protesting ITI workers in Bengaluru

Social and environmental activist Medha Patkar met workers of Indian Telephone Industries Ltd. (ITI) who have been staging a protest in Bengaluru against the management for over a month

Social and environmental activist Medha Patkar met workers of Indian Telephone Industries Ltd. (ITI) who have been staging a protest in Bengaluru against the management for over a month. “The National Alliance of People’s Movements fully supports the struggle of ITI workers and will launch agitations in various parts of the country to express solidarity,” she said at a programme on January 14.

Employees, who have been demanding pending payments and statutory rights, allege that they were not aware they had been hired on contract. When they formed a union to demand their rights in December 2021, they were reportedly barred from entering the premises.

Ms. Patkar, who hailed protesters for their determination, pointed out that though ITI is a public sector undertaking which is required to fill the public treasury, it is being done by stealing from and exploiting contract workers. Unionising is a fundamental and statutory right traceable to the Trade Union Act, 1926, but now in an inhumane manner, managements are victimising union workers, she said.

Com. Hemanth, unit president of KGLU ( ITI) unit, expressed sorrow over the treatment of workers by the management. The workers have been sitting outside the gates for 45 days with no acknowledgement from the management. Many had been employed with ITI for up to 35 years.

Clifton D’ Rozario, State president, AICCTU, said that the support of activists such as Ms. Patkar would give comrades the strength to continue their struggle for basic rights. He said the union would not allow the management to get away with their illegal actions.

Sister Celia, president of the Domestic Workers’ Union, extended her support to the protest.Mamatha of Gamana Mahila Sangha infused revolutionary spirit to the event by rendering songs on resistance and struggle.

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