A national rally of Unorganised Sector Workers to the parliament was organised on 5th May’ 2005. About 20,000 workers from different segments of Unorganised Sector Workers from twelve States, mostly from outside Delhi, participated in this Rally. The main objective of this Rally was to submit a petition to the petition Committee of Lok Sabha demanding a comprehensive Legislation for providing Security of Livelihood for the 370 million workers of the Unorganised Sector.
After organising various meetings in North and South to reach a consensus on crucial aspects of a comprehensive legislation for Unorganised Sector Worker the NCC-USW had organised a signature campaign throughout the country through its constituents. Over ten lakh signatures were collected during March-April-May 2005, which were submitted to the Speaker of Lok Sabha Shri. Somnath Chatterjee by a delegation of the National Campaign Committee for Unorganized Sector Workers (NCC-USW).
This delegation of NCC-USW was led by the Chairperson of the Reception Committee, Prof. Madhu Dhandevate. Two Members of Parliament, Shri M.P. Virenderkumar of Janta Dal (Secular) and Shri Ramjilal Suman of Samajwadi Party countersigned the Petition as per rules No. 164 related to the Committee on Petition. Both of them have been the Labour Ministers of the Union Government. The delegation included Working President of UCC-USW, Baba Adhav, T. S. Sankaran, Honorary Chairperson of Lok Raj Sangathan, Swami Agnivesh of Bandhua Mukti Morcha, Subhash Bhatnagar of NCC-USW and Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam, Bhawar Singh Chadhana of Astha-Udaipur, Nikhil Dey of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Sr. Escline of Tamil Nadu Domestic Workers Union, Geetha of Nirman Mazdoor Panchayat Sangam, Thomas Kochery of National Fishworkers Forums and National Alliance of Peoples Movement, Subhash Lomte of National Campaign Committee of Rural Workers, Kishore Pawar of Hind Mazdoor Sabha-Pune, Umrao Mal Purohit, General Secretary of Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Pradeep Prabhu of Kashtkari Sanghathna, , Jai Singh of Dalit Dasata Virodhi Abhiyan – Punjab, Dr. Sunilam; MLA of Samajwadi Party from Madhya Pradesh and Anuradha Talwar of National Alliance of Agriculture Worker Unions. The Petition was also signed by Medha Patkar of NAPM and Charles Wesley of APVVV/ Dalit Social Forum.
Speaker of the Sabha Shri. Somnath Chatterjee gave a patient hearing to all the delegates and assured that he would send the Petition to the Petition Committee of Lok Sabha. He further assured that he would write to the Prime Minister requesting him to look, into the matter.
A joint meeting of the Reception Committee and Solidarity Committee of the 5th May 2005 Rally was held on 4th May’ 2005 at V.P. House which was attended by over 50 delegates mainly from trade unions. Baba Adhav who came with the Cycle Rally from Mahad, spending fifty days through the rural areas and urban centres of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana informed the delegates about the warm reception ‘The Cycle Rally’ got throughout the route. Shri T.S. Sankaran gave a brief description of the Bill proposed by the NCC-CL which was outlined in the Petition itself, on which over a million signatures had been collected.
On the morning of 5th May 2005, the participants of the Rally gathered at Ramlila Ground and the meeting was addressed by former Prime Minister Shri. V.P. Singh. Then the Rally, started on its March to Parliament. The main meetings was held at Parliament Street. The two meeting were addressed by Prof. Madhu Dandavate, Veteran Socialist leader Shri Surendra Mohan, Dr. Baba Adhav, Shri. T.S. Sankaran, Republican party of India leader & Member of Parliament Mr. Ramdas Athavale, Socialist Party Member of Parliament Shri Ramjilal Suman, Samajwadi Janparished President Prof. Vinod Prasad Singh, Leader of Narmada Bachao Andolan Ms. Medha Patkar, Swami Agnivesh (Bandhan Mukti Morcha), Thomas Kochari (NFF), Nikhil Dey (MKSS), Com Bhalchandra Kerkar (Domestic Workers Org.), Vilas Bhongade (MBLKS), Shri N.P. Samy (NCL), Shri Jaising (DDVA), Dr. Sunilam (MLA), Shri Subhash Bhatnagar, Ms. Geeta (NCC-CL), Com Suresh Gavali (Anganwadi Workers Union), Ms. Anuradha Talwar (PBKMS), Shri. P.V. Rajgopal (Ekata Parishad), Shri Pannalal Surana (Socialist Front), Ms. Pratibha Shinde (P.S.S.), Prof. Subhash Ware (Rastra Seva Dal), Shri Tapeswar Bhai (NCCRW), Sathi Subhash Lomte (NCCRW / HKMS-HMS).
The NCC-USW plans to move towards forming joint action committees of different segments of Unorganised Sector Workers in each State. Only a sustained campaign of Unorganised Sector Workers can move the Petition Committee of Lok Sabha to give a positive recommendation and the Parliament to pass a really implementable legislation on security of livelihood for 370 million workers. The experience of construction workers campaigning has shown that even after the enactment of central legislation they have to agitate at the state level to get them implemented.
Another meeting was held on the evening of 5th May 05 at D.D. Vashist Education Center Hall to review the Rally and chalk out future programmes. At this meeting, over 200 participants of the Rally participated and expressed their determination to build up a movement of unorganized sector workers to further strengthen the campaign. The meeting mainly came out with the suggestion that during next three months the NCC should consolidate the existing state level joint action committees of Unorganised Sector Workers and then call a National Convention so that similar joint action committees could be formed in as many other states as possible.