Slum Bombay: Textile Worker Hunger Strike Parel
Director: Ralli Jacob, Rafeeq Ellias, P.K. Das; Cinematographer: Rafeeq Ellias
Duration: 00:21:49; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 22.919; Saturation: 0.160; Lightness: 0.204; Volume: 0.067; Cuts per Minute: 11.774; Words per Minute: 57.815
Summary: Interviews with the Trade Unionist and Activists including Prakash Reddy, Meena Menon at the site of Hunger Strike by Mill Workers like Datta Iswalkar, Pravin Ghag and others.
Mid shot of road taxi, truck etc passing.
Shot of chimney
Top angle of chimney tilt down to protesters
Mid shot of road taxi, truck etc passing
Shot of cops
protest announcement in Hindi
protest announcement in Marathi
Prakash Reddy: Since October 2 these (?) mill workers are here on hunger strike. their demands are straightforward. Its been 6-7 years in Bombay since 10 mills have shutdown. Effectively these mill workers have lost their jobs. And now the government has come out with new DC rules which is nothing but a conspiracy to sell mill lands amongst the nexus of mill owners, builders, and RMMS union. So against that these mills should be up and running again. The age old textile industry in Bombay should continue. And the mill workers shouldn't lose employment. These are their demands during this hunger strike.
Prakash Reddy: Participating in this hunger strike are Datta Ishwalkar, Praveen Bhag, Vishnu Kahane, Govind Shinde, Krishna Shinde, Vasant Mahadik - these are all mill workers, not big politicians. Their biggest demand that comes through is - according to the new DC rules mill lands are to be sold, and a very large portion of that - 1/3 is to be given to commercial development, ie to big businessmen and traders, to builders. They also claim 1/3 is to be given to MHADA - but who benefits form this? Workers will have lost their jobs. Since the mills have shutdown they haven't even received their legal dues.
Prakash Reddy: With the mills shutting down, these people are left with no livelihood. And then to top it off, this valuable land will go into the hands of big builders. If Bombay were to become the new Hong Kong or Singapore, the common man will not benefit from this - he will get no home. Central Bombay which was built by workers (and labourers) is about to be eroded, and these workers will be shunted outside of Bombay. This will also affect unemployment very negatively.
Meena Menon: In solidarity with the workers, here at Modern Mill compound women of mills had a protest march.
Meena Menon: Just as the mill workers have a long history here in Bombay, so also the women of mill areas have a deep and long history here, in Bombay city.
Meena Menon: At the time of the Great Textile strike when the mill workers lost their jobs, for 2 years there was no food in their homes. There was no income. They even had to sell kitchen utensils, stoves, everything - and even then they couldn't make ends meet. So the women of these homes did whatever work they could - domestic help, cleaning - to earn some money. There's countless such stories.
Meena Menon: An entire volume (book) can be written on just the amount of suffering and hardship the mill workers have had to endure at the time.
Meena Menon: Children of these homes will remember for the rest of their lives the hardships their families faced then.
Meena Menon: Additionally, wherever this struggle of mill workers has taken place, women have been working in these mills from way back in large numbers. But today, since it is the norm during any retrenchment to first lay off the women. And so many women mill workers have been terminated and these days there aren't those many women mill workers.
Meena Menon: But the women mill workers still present, or who were present, have also very actively participated in these protests, and were on the forefront in the struggle.
Meena Menon: Yesterday there was a small women's protest rally - not many women, few, but still, their coming itself is a very big thing (commendable).
Meena Menon: Ten mills have shut down here.... the government destroyed the mills without even nationalising them, or giving the mill workers their share, they've been left on the streets. Often they've had to work for even less than half their previous wages. The government has destroyed entire families like this by destroying the mills.
Meena Menon: Now the government is openly manipulating DC rules to enable selling of land at high rates. Effectively they not only intend to eradicate mills, but entire mill workers' neighbourhoods too.
Meena Menon: Now if Modern Mill is sold, the families living inside it will be left homeless too. There's been absolutely no mention of compensation, but even if they were to give some accommodation in Bombay and some compensation... we all know how builders give compensation. After all this entire land is going straight into the builders' hands. By giving this land to the builders, and by giving small moneys, the government plans to completely destroy these neighbourhoods.
Hunger Striker 1:
If mill owners sell this land then big 5 star hotels will come here, posh flats will be built. In reality the poor cannot live where the wealthy live. And now with these protests against the owners and government, workers are left helpless and food-less. If workers cannot even afford ussal pav
in Bombay city, then how can they eat tandoori
chicken at a 5 star hotel? This is my question to Maharashtra Government. Along with that, Bombay belongs to the workers, who've worked hard and struggled since many years. In Bombay workers can't afford 25 rs rent for 10x10 rooms, they delay paying rent for up to 6-8 months. Will these same workers go to fancy apartments in 5-25 storey buildings and pay rent there?
Hunger Striker 1: We feel that the government and owners are out to destroy our history in Bombay which the hardworking labourers have created. For years workers have been putting blood and sweat into their work and still they are not getting paid on time. Then how do we believe that the government will provide houses for us? This MHADA land... here you will not be able to give us homes.
Hunger Striker 1: 105 workers lost their lives in the struggle for Sanyukta Maharashtra here on the streets of Bombay. When (Bal Gangadhar) Tilak was attacked during the struggle for independence, Bombay's workers were the first to come out and support him. Bombay was built by these workers' struggles. Today everyone can partake in Bombay's wealth only thanks to those workers' struggles, and yet they're thrown on the streets and are being destroyed. They must be saved and given their rights. This is our demand.
Awaaz do hum ek hain... Zindabad! Zindabad! Mazdoor ekta Zindabad!! Aage badho, Aage dadho hum tumhare sath hain
Hunger Striker 2: Bombay's new development rules for mills will take us out of Bombay city and ruin the mill workers. So our first fight is against this. The workers who've built this country are being thrown out of Bombay by the government. So, we must fight against the DC rules however we can, and every mill worker from other mills too should join in this fight.
Hunger Striker 2: If we don't fight the capitalist is in power and they will build biggest towers and destroy the workers through the DC rules. We will fight and destroy this DC rule. We will not move until the DC rule is removed from here. We are working to save mill workers. We will try to take all of Bombay's mill workers together with us on this fight.
Hunger Striker 3: The new DC rules in Bombay city are nothing but the industrialists' big campaign to sell big mill lands. This fight is not for increase of salary or bonus, this fight is for our identity! To save our identity, Bombay's mill workers are on hunger strike, and Bombay's workers from all over are supporting us. We will not move back until the government withdraws the DC rules. And we'll continue with more unity and more power so that the government has to agree. This is the assurance we give.