28 January 2021

Women demand proper functioning of self help groups

SMS leads a demonstration in South 24 Parganas demanding adherence to guidelines in the functioning of self help groups

Shramajivee Mahila Samity (SMS) and Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS) organized a demonstration in front of the Kultuli block office in the district of South 24 Parganas office and a blockade to protest against the irregularities in the functioning of self help groups nurtured by the block administration. Grievances of our members were not redressed despite repeated submission of deputations and letters. The block administration has failed to honour its commitment to the people and has refused to act on the complaints submitted time and again by the whistleblowers of self help groups who had to bear the brunt of corrupt practices perpetuated by the elected committee(s) in connivance with the circle coordinator of the block. 'Sanghas' or village organizations are not following the guidelines in their transactions and the committee(s) are taking unilateral decisions without informing the members. We have written to the district administration and also to the Dept. of Panchayats and Rural Development, Govt. of West Bengal but no administrative action could be noticed to address our concerns. The women have finally decided to display their strength and resolve to the apathetic block administration and will be relentless in their efforts to ensure that justice is delivered to the scores of women who have been denied their rightful share in the decision making process(s) of these women led bodies.   
Women activists leading the demonstration in Kultuli, South 24 Parganas

We demand the assurance of accepting the following demands:
  • Immediate elections to the 'sanghas' should be called in the gram panchayats of Bhubaneshwari, Gopalganj, Maipith and Meriganj.
  • Accounts of the 'sanghas' from 2016 to the present day should be made available to the SHG members and the public at large
  • Organizing periodic Annual General Meetings (AGMs) with proper dissemination of information concerning the venue and time of the same.
  • Suitable action against the circle coordinator and CSP-Bank Linkage for non adherence to guidelines and indulging in corrupt practices
  • Enquiry into the practice of extorting money to accept loan applications from SHG(s)

 Women raising slogans during the 'gherao' of the block office

After demonstrating for the whole day, the concerned Block Development Officer has promised a follow-up meeting on 30th January, 2021 with himself as mediator with five women from the cooperative board (whom the women accuse of corruption) and five members of SMS.

27 January 2021

7th Purulia District Convention

 PBKMS Purulia unit organizes the 7th District Convention in Puncha block

Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS) organizes the convention of the Purulia unit in one of its oldest field areas in the district, the Puncha block under Manbazar subdivision. Purulia has been one of the first districts to have welcomed us three decades back when our independent trade union began to take shape to take up the struggles for the working class in rural West Bengal. It is still one of the largest district units of PBKMS with more than 25000 active members. Irregularities in disbursing people's entitlements under the Public Distribution System and access to work under the state sponsored public works programme (MGNREGA, 2005) are routinely taken up by the organization along with struggles to uphold the constitutional rights of the people.

Comrade Narayan Mahato, senior PBKMS activist addressing the convention

PBKMS and SMS members assembling to hear the address of the senior leadership 

The convention has witnessed the participation of about 150 delegates from 13 block units of our trade union. Senior state committee members of the organization including the General Secretary, Comrade Uttam Gayen attended the convention along with senior activists from the district. The convention was presided over by Comrade Swapan Bauri, the Secretary of Purulia District and the activities of the organization over the past one year was presented. The need to be vigilant against the divisive political forces and the true essence of the constitution of our secular, socialist republic featured in the address to the Purulia convention by our senior leadership.  

Comrade Swapan Ganguly addressing the convention

25 January 2021

10th State Convention of PBKMS

A large delegation taking a pledge to join hands in working for the emancipation of the working class in the 10th State Convention of PBKMS

Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS), one of the largest independent non-party political trade unions for small and marginal farmers and agricultural labourers organized its 10th State Conference from 23rd January, 2021 to 24th January, 2021 at Badu Collective, Madhyamgram. The senior leadership and state committee members were present along with more than 250 members of the organization from more than 12 districts across West Bengal. Some of the photographs captured by our media team have been shared below:

The Badu Collective being decked up with red flags of the union and banners proclaiming the state convention

Hoisting of the national flag by a senior woman activist of PBKMS

Hoisting of the flag of PBKMS by one of the senior most members of the union

Comrade Swapan Ganguly presenting the report to the delegates

Women activists led by Comrade Namita Halder singing revolutionary songs in the convention

20 state committee members assembling after elections in the convention

Comrade Pratip Nag, trade union leader and social activist addressing the delegates

Stalls selling booklets on contemporary issues and handwoven clothes

22 January 2021

PBKMS announces its 10th State Convention at Badu Collective, Madhyamgram

District and block units of PBKMS assemble for the convention amidst the upcoming West Bengal assembly elections

Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS), one of the largest independent trade unions for agricultural workers and farm workers in India organizes the 10th State Convention in the sprawling campus of the Badu Collective. On 23rd and 24th January, 2021 members and activists across West Bengal will assemble for the state convention to discuss and deliberate on organizational issues and the general state of affairs in the state. The organization has always been at the forefront in upholding the constitutional rights of the people and advocating for effective implementation of rights based implementation(s). Against the backdrop of the upcoming assemble elections in West Bengal, we have begun our mass contact programmes to drive awareness about the relevance of issues affecting the working class and the apathy of the political leadership in taking them up. 'জলে কুমির, ডাঙায় বাঘ: এবার আমরা কি করবো?' (we are in a situation where we are finding ourselves in between the devil and the deep blue sea) is a call given by us to express the latent anger of the working class amidst the apathy and misplaced priorities of the political dispensation wherein political parties cutting across party lines are failing to address the concerns of the people. The recently ratified farm laws and the labour laws point clearly towards the intention of the central government which has taken a vow to erode the rights of small and marginal farmers, workers and people associated with the unorganized sector. The state government of West Bengal has also not adequate steps to ensure access to food, nutrition, housing, health, quality education and livelihood opportunities for the people. We are attempting to sustain a social media campaign to highlight important concerns of the people to enable the masses in taking an informed decision during the upcoming state assembly elections.   

From the tea gardens of North Bengal to the 'Amphan' affected coastal districts of South Bengal, we are relentlessly bringing up the issues affecting the working class and the vulnerable sections of the society. The proper functioning of the Public Distribution System and the public works programme in rural areas have been ensured in the numerous field areas across the state by our activists and members. Monitoring of existing grievance redressal systems and advocating for community led monitoring systems feature amongst one of the core activities of our field units.

Poster circulated widely on the announcement of our 10th state convention at Badu

The convention will witness presentation of various reports by the respective committees and deliberations on issues that require the immediate attention of the organization. We will be charting out our future roadmap and putting forward our demand charter along with resolutions to extend our solidarity with ongoing people's movements on numerous issues in different parts of the country.