The nine-day strike by the tea plantation workers at the Kannan Devan Hills Plantation (KDHP) Company in Munnar has ended with the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy intervening in the matter and the management agreeing to the demands of the workers.
Munnar had come to a standstill in the past few days as more than 5000 tea plantation workers took to the streets demanding higher wages, bonus and better facilities including medical facilities. The Kannan Devan Hills Plantation (KDHP) Company is the first ever employee-owned plantation company in the country. The strike ended only after the management agreed to their demands during negotiations chaired by the Chief Minister. Surprisingly, the women workers held talks directly keeping away politicians and influential trade union leaders who tried to side with them. According to the workers, they sided and helped the management. The BJP too wasn’t allowed to interfere in the matter. The women workers had allowed only the veteran CPM leader V S Achuthanandhan to join them. Roads were blocked, schools were closed and the strike sent jitters through the tourism industry due to the looming tourist season. The women workers fought for their right to live. The Munnar agitation was a huge blow to the leaders who remained indifferent towards the poor plight of tea plantation workers dragging the government into bootless negotiations. The workers lost faith in them which led to the protest. They repudiated the pretentions of mainstream politics irrespective of the government as well as the opposition forming a new pro-people politics instead, led by the people and for the people. The protest was an extension of the pro-people activism that’s currently reverberating across borders.
Jeremy Corbyn was elected as the leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party on Saturday with the huge support of more than half a million Party members and supporters much to the surprise of the conservative politicians in the country. A socialist and an ardent supporter of migrants and refugees, his campaigns against war,efforts for global equality and social justice drew crowds and appealed to those who opposed the stringent measures imposed by the conservationists. Unlike Corbyn who upheld people’s politics, Munnar strike wasn’t focused around any particular person or based on any specific theory. Despite the several disparities, both the triumphs in Britain as well as in Kerala were accomplished by the common man for their survival. Both the victories stunned the conservative politicians and are similar to the pro people undercurrents gaining momentum in different parts of the world. Munnar had openly declared its discontent when the political allies and unions abstained from the matters concerning people. The politicians, who are trying to establish the presence of terror groups behind the so called unity of the helpless workers, should be openly admitting their failure in comprehending and resolving the issues of the workers.
The people are now well aware of those power-craving politicians who approach them only at the time of polls. The leftist Labour party after coming to power by upholding the issues concerning the people would start exhibiting their capitalist outlook which suppresses the conservative allies. Corbyn’s victory is surely historic. He said that a possible resolution could be reached only through a ‘peaceful political settlement of the conflict’ and urged to open the hearts, minds and attitudes towards the refugees. In Delhi, where the victory of pro people politics was celebrated, the Kejriwal government turned towards traditional politics in no time. In Greece, Alexis Tsipras who rose to power with a sweeping victory soon plunged into compromise politics. The conservative politicians should learn their lesson from these small victories scored across different parts of the world without resorting to violence or bloodshed. The people are now aware of the self-interests of the politicians in ascending to power by shouting slogans and gaining votes through upholding sectarianism. They are now openly protesting against economic inequality, human rights violations and injustice rather than waiting for the traditional politicians to take the lead. The workers are rethinking about entrusting their affairs to the influential trade unions. Anti-politics are gradually gaining momentum all over the world.