Canada’s unions stand in solidarity with farmers and agricultural workers in India as they continue to protest recent reforms to agricultural laws that deregulate the industry and leave farmers and farm workers vulnerable to exploitation by international corporations.
“Deregulating local produce markets will have a devastating impact on farmers, farm workers and food security in India,” said Canadian Labour Congress President, Hassan Yussuff. “We stand with the international labour movement to support workers who are taking to the streets to protest these reforms and fight for their rights.”
India’s central and local governments passed three farm acts in September. Taken together, these acts threaten to impoverish millions of small farmers and leave millions more farm workers unemployed. Farmers’ unions have been protesting since August, escalating to a national general strike on November 26, 2020.
The government of India has also proposed reforms that undermine unions and violate international labour standards that India has ratified as a member of the International Labour Organization.
“The government’s legislation leaves farmers and workers at the mercy of large multinational corporations and global commodity price swings,” said Yussuff. “We deplore the fact that some states in India are also using the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to suspend labour laws and attack workers’ rights. The international community has to stand up.”
The protesting farmers are making several demands, including asking that the new farm laws be repealed; that all repressive measures taken against protesters cease; and that movement leaders who have been arrested be released. Other workers’ unions in the country have joined the protests in support of the farmers.