People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 45

November 16, 2008


CITU Calls For  Countrywide Movement

K Hemalata

THE national secretariat of CITU, which met at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram in Hyderabad on November 8-9, 2008 called upon the working class of India to unleash a strong countrywide movement against the attacks on its basic rights and working conditions. The meeting was chaired by its president, M K Pandhe. Office bearers of CITU from all over the country participated in the meeting.

The CITU secretariat discussed the outline of the general secretary’s report to be placed before the working committee scheduled to meet in Mumbai on December 1-3, 2008 and the tasks to be taken up to counter the mounting attacks on the working class. Office bearers from different states reported on the industrial situation and the types of attacks on the workers that were being resorted to by the employers on the plea of the financial crisis engulfing the world.

Even as the impact of this global financial crisis was still unfolding, its disastrous effects are already being felt in various sectors of the industry, including the core sectors. Several industries have started cutting down production and laying off workers; several thousands of workers are being retrenched/laid off in textile, leather, gems and jewelleries, automobile, airlines, cement, construction, mining etc. The IT and ITES sectors too, particularly those dependent on outsourcing from other countries, are impacted. The small scale sector, which is the biggest industrial employer, is the worst-hit by the crisis with lakhs of workers facing threat to their jobs. It was noted that employers in some sectors like the gems and jewelleries were asking their workers to prolong their Diwali vacations; some employers were sending letters to the unions to ‘cooperate’ in facing the situation.

In such a grave situation, it is only natural to expect that the government of the day would consult all those concerned before taking the necessary steps to deal with this crisis. But, it is most regrettable that the UPA government and its prime minister did not consider it necessary to hold discussions with the trade unions, when crores of workers and their families were facing serious onslaught on their livelihood. The prime minister confined his confabulations to the so called ‘captains’ of industry and the major chambers of commerce dominated by big corporates, who have already started demanding concessions from the government on the one hand and unleashing attack on the wages and working conditions of the workers on the other taking the plea of the crisis. The feeble appeal of the prime minister to the industrialists not to take knee jerk actions, has obviously, had no impact. The prime minister has not also bothered to meet the representatives of the small scale industries.

Expressing strong indignation at this callous attitude towards the workers, the CITU secretariat reiterated its demand to immediately call a meeting with the central trade unions to discuss the matter. It has also urged upon the government to ensure generation of employment and protection of working conditions as a prerequisite while considering any concessions/incentives to the big corporate sector to bail them out utilising public money. It should be ensured that the funds that are pumped into the financial institutions do not flow into speculative stock markets; they should be directed to the small scale sector and also to infrastructure and agriculture in the form of public investment.

Several state committees of CITU have already planned campaign and struggle programmes to educate the workers and prepare them to resist the attacks on their conditions. The CITU secretariat called upon all its state committees and industrial federations to hold protest demonstrations all over the country on November 21 against the attacks on the workers, as per the decision of the Sponsoring Committee.

In view of the serious situation that was still unfolding, the CITU secretariat decided that it was necessary to develop nationwide campaigns and struggles to protect the interests of the working class. The working committee meeting of the CITU scheduled on December 1-3, 2008 in Mumbai will chalk out a concrete programme of action to meet the challenges ahead. All the state committees of CITU, its affiliated unions and industrial federations should gear themselves up to effectively implement its decisions.