Workers’ Own Media
Workers Unity is an independent and impartial digital media platform dedicated to the struggles of the toiling masses and their achievements and awareness within them. At a time when there is a campaign to create parallel media from within every section, community and class, the need for a dedicated media of working people is being strongly felt. With the introduction of neoliberal policies, the shrinking of print media and the emergence of the electronic medium, it is seen that the labour beat is almost over.
Inception- The working peoples’ own media
Some journalists, social workers, trade union activists, students and teachers from Delhi held a meeting in May 2018 and gave the green signal for launch of such media and from here the slogan came out – ‘The working peoples’ own media’. With the digital platform becoming more effective and print media shrinking, it was decided that media channels such as YouTube channels, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter and Instagram should be used to spread the news.
On May 7, 2018, we started YouTube, Facebook page and Twitter, and on May 1, 2021, the campaign will complete three years.
It was decided in the meeting that ground reporting of issues related to the working population should be presented in a new way that it gives relevant information in a professional manner to the working masses amidst the bombardment of information. From the very beginning, the decision to do ground reporting opened the doors to its immense potential.
We hoped and succeeded in reporting the struggles of the workers in and around Delhi on a routine basis, to make them aware of the new labour laws, to bring the attention of the administration to the working conditions and to bring the information of the trade union movement to every nook and corner of the country. Whether it is in Haryana IMT Manesar, Honda Union, Maruti Union, Balsonica Union, Endurance Union, Satyam Auto, Hero Union in Dharuhera, Rico Union or in Rajasthan, Daikin in Neemrana, Nissin Brake, aisin Union of Rohtak or Honda in Noida where management gave compulsory retirement in a car plant or unionization in the LG plant here, Workers Unity has been able to immediately cover the ground reports. In the entertainment era, where the news of the general public does not get much audience, many of videos of the Workers Unity Facebook page was viewed by tens of millions of people.
In the past few years, from all the struggles by the workers till lockdown, not only on-the-ground reporting but also through direct help, Workers Unity realizes its limitless possibilities.
Thousands of journals exist for the working population. But on social media, there are severe gap in the news of working people point of view. From the very beginning, we have been of the view that the media does not have the responsibilities to publish only the news, but they will also have to bear the responsibility of reaching the masses. It was from here it is conceived taht the media of the public means the IT cell of the public.
Working from this perspective, Workers Unity reported the four-month agitation at Manesar Honda very extensively and even when the mainstream media turned its back to 2.5 thousand odd temporary workers, workers unity reported almost daily basis. The response was good and the videos of ordinary workers whose voice was not heard got millions of audience on Facebook page of Workers Unity. Many videos crossed over millions.
Hundreds of ground reports have been published on Workers Unity in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Bihar directly and through coordination in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam and Punjab. It is evident that a strong network of workers’ Unity has also been formed in these areas.
The biggest advantage of this is that the news of one corner of the country reaches the other and through this people connect with the struggles, successes and failures of others. They feel and penetrate their media. We find signs of this in the form of views. Currently, around 500 videos put on YouTube have been viewed more than 1 million times. In the 28 days from 26 January 2021 to 28 February 2021, Workers Unity’s Facebook page reached over 8 million viewers. The Facebook page has close to 93,000 followers. There are over 16.7 thousand subscribers on YouTube. There are 1,000 followers on Twitter. There are more than 1500 followers on Instagram.
Therefore, the website also performed as planned. The news published here has been viewed more than 11 lakh times. All this has been done with very limited resources, rather privately and without any external help.
The Audience is not just a consumer
When the lockdown took place in March 2020, at very short notice, the entire team set up a helpline centre to help the workers. For this work, with the help of crowdfunding and financial support from acquaintances, about 10 lakh rupees was provided. When the farmers’ movement started, a blanket and mattresses and sleeping bags were arranged at a limited level in the harsh winter.
The view behind this is that the public media is not just a professional news organization, but also a partner in their happiness and sorrow. It becomes his moral duty. The institution cannot escape the responsibility of the section for which we want to bring the news.
Therefore, it made sense that the Worker’s Unity audience is not just the consumers of its information.
Also, this was the reason that in order to know the situation of the migrant labourers who reached their home in Bihar, a team of Workers Unity went to the ground reporting about them in Bihar. The result of engagement with readers/viewers is that anyone can send their news directly to Workers Unity and be sure to publish the right news.
Currently, under increasing investment pressure, there are many issues such as privatization, changes in labour laws, human rights abuses which are actually affecting the wider population but have no place in the mainstream media.
Since the lockdown, crores of people lost their jobs, the working class suddenly came to the brink of poverty and a large number of them remain hungry. There was some news about an accident that happened or violent resistance. Only and only such media can do the work of analyzing and interpreting the irrationality of the whole system, which does not run by the logic of profit itself. Workers Unity has been successful in bringing such news to an extent.
It is constantly seen that the arrival of the workers’ headlines is made only when there is a strike or a block jammed program and that too in the form of negative news about how much trouble it is for the common man’s life.
Where the news of the trade union and the workers’ movement is presented as a disadvantage in the economy, Workers Unity has been working to present the news from the perspective of the rights of the people running the economy. Therefore, it also has a role as a platform of dialogue.
In media, the working class should not come across as a problem but rather as a solution in a vigorous way. Their dreams, struggles, experiences and voices should be noted in the same way as in the rest of society. After a lot of struggles, in a diverse country like India, for a few years here, the voice of many marginalized communities such as Dalit, Adivasi, minority people have started coming on an identity basis, but perhaps this is the same period when the voices of labourers and working people are have steadily compressed as a class.
It has three main founding members – Sandeep Kumar Rai, Santosh Kumar and Imran Khan. Sandeep Kumar Rai is also its founding editor. A year after starting the work of Workers Unity, there was a need to give it a formal framework, with clear sharing of responsibility and rights.
For this, an organization Foundation for Independent New Digital Media (FINDM) was registered under the Companies Act Section-8. It has three director founding members – Sandeep Kumar Rai, Santosh Kumar and Imran Khan.
However, apart from this formal structure, there are many names that have left no stone unturned to establish Workers Unity and are constantly engaged with the same hard work and dedication. This organization oversees the operations of Workers Unity and is expected to become more inclusive in the future.