People's Democracy

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


No. 36

September 05, 2004



CITU Calls For United Movement

Against Anti-People Steps By The UPA Govt

B Prasant


THE sprawling district of Kolkata includes thriving belts of working class activities.  Numerous factories mark the region, large and small.  The service sector is quite strong here, too.  Thus, the Kolkata district conference of the CITU is always a focal point of interest for the toiling masses of the metropolis and beyond.  The seventh conference proved no exception in this regard.  Wide-ranging preparations preceded the conference.  The CITU, here in Kolkata as elsewhere in the state of Bengal, is by far the largest TU representing organised as well as unorganised workers.


The conference held between August 27 and August 29 at the Kankurgatchi Shramik Mangal Kendra saw lively discussion from amongst the delegates as they debated and discussed the secretary report.  660 delegates were present as were 30 representatives of fraternal organisations as well as 30 observers.  The conference was conducted under the guidance of the presidium that comprised Haridas Malakar.  Raghunath Kushari, Mohd Nizamuddin, Bimal Chatterjee, Bejoy Tewari, Dilip Sen, and Gobindo Guha.


In his important address to the conference, all-India general secretary of the CITU, Chittabrata Majumdar said that united movement and a large joint platform were the necessary implements for struggling against the anti-people policies of the UPA government.  It was only through struggles that the anti-people steps could be successfully met. 


The CITU leader said that the positive sides of the UPA governance comprised the secular issue and the issue of non-aligned foreign policy.  The electorate, however, had voted out the NDA government also on the score of the economic policy.  It was the innate desire of the people that the UPA governance should move quickly away from the anti-people economic policies of the NDA régime.  The Left had always been insistent of this score.  The CMP did contain several positive issues.  Should the UPA government chose to ditch these and walk the path of the rejected NDA governance, struggles and movements must be launched on these issues without any delay.


On the issue of investments being made in Bengal, Majumdar clarified to state clearly that FDI could be allowed provided it was on the need for importing technological upgrades, and where such investments did never interfere with the national interest of the nation. Nor should such investments jeopardise in any manner the interests of the workers. 


The central role of the PSU’s, too, must not be given a go by. The notion of allowing FDI must also be bound with adequate legislative back up for the sake of the national interest and the interests of the people.  The NDA governance showed the inherent dangers of allowing the foreign capital to run away with its priorities in the country.  Majumdar was harshly critical of the role being emoted by the corporate media vis-à-vis the industrial policy of the state Left Front government and the CITU.


In his address to the conference, Shyamal Chakraborti, president of the Bengal unit of the CITU focussed attention to the plight of the workers toiling in the unorganised sector.  He said that as in the whole world, the numbers of workers in the organised sector were increasing here in Kolkata.  It was high time that a concentrated effort was made to enhance their political and social consciousness. 


Narrating the wide-ranging economic, political, and social problems that the worker in the unorganised sector had to face on a daily basis, Chakraborti also spoke about the issue of social security that the workers in this sector lacked to the detriment of their interest.  It was necessary, pointed out the CITU leader, to also organise the mass health, mass literacy, and cultural movements amongst the masses of the unorganised sector as well.


Kali Ghosh, general secretary of the Bengal CITU emphasised the essential necessity of a united movement of the workers to fight the global menace of imperialism. CITU leader Dipak Dasgupta spoke on the need to enhance the organisational strength of the CITU and to expand its base further amongst the workers.




Addressing the CITU conference on the second day, all-India president of the organisation, Dr M K Pandhe said that the economic ills being faced by the people of the country of late could be laid squarely at the door of the NDA government.  It was the anti-people economic outlook and policies of that régime that had caused the people to face increasing poverty, and the workers widespread attacks on their rights


Dr Pandhe who was very critical of the hoax of a social security net for the unorganised workers that was on offer from the NDA government on the eve of the Lok Sabha polls pointed out that the labour minister of the Bengal LF government had asked of the then union government about the complete lack of funds and legislations that were essential for the state government to put in place the social security net for the workers in the unorganised sector.  It was soon clear that the declared move of the union government meant was an eyewash before the people, and little else besides.


Dr M K Pandhe was of the firm view that the UPA government might very well not implement the CMP on its own and in its entirety.  It was needed to build up a strong movement all-over the country to force the UPA government to put in place the various issues that the CMP dealt with.  The CITU leader drew attention of the conference to the strike by the airport workers on September 27.  He also pointed out that bank employees and coalfield workers would soon get involved in united movements in the country.


On the issue of foreign capital, Dr M K Pandhe said that it did not mean that there would be an upward swing of the market with the coming in of foreign capital.  The experience of foreign capital investments made in the country over the past 14 years tells quite a different story.  Of the foreign capital invested in the country, 31 per cent has come in food processing.  Nearly Rs 12,000 crore has been sunk in the share bourses. Thousands of rupees more are in operation in moving the speculative curve upwards.  All this has had disastrous consequences for the nation’s economy.  The nation’s interests must be given the topmost priority where the issue of allowing foreign capital to move to this country got involved.  Any step that jeopardise the nation’s interests must be sternly fought against, was how the veteran TU leader put it.


Dr Pandhe also spoke about the situation of crisis that was allowed to affect the PSU’s and the indigenous production units.  PSU’s were sold to black-listed outfits.  He pointed to the plight of concerns like the BALCO.  Dr Pandhe pointed out also how outfits with a capital worth of Rs 5 lakh were allowed to buy off PSUs that had an asset of over Rs 150 crore.




Felicitating the conference, state LF government’s labour minister Mohd Amin said that the workers chose the path of strike action out of dire necessity and not as a frivolous change of mood.  The working class must have a lot of patience in the task of tackling the tough situation that faced them.  The workers must have things discussed thoroughly at every organisational level when coming to form a resolution.


Mohd Amin said that in view of the fact 94 per cent of the workers were in the unorganised sector, there was little gainsaying in emphasising the emergent task of having them organised.  The state LF government, on its part, reminded the labour minister, had spent an amount of Rs 24 crore last year to strengthen and get enabled the PF programme for the workers toiling in the unorganised sector.  The state of Bengal was also unique in the country in providing assistance to the workers of the closed factories and production units.         




The Kolkata unit of the CITU discussed the issue of the unorganised sector in great detail The conference came up with the suggestion to go in for intensive organisational moves in the matter at the zonal level.  The delegates discussed and debated the issues of unorganised sector and of social security in two separate commissions that had been set up. 


The commission called for an enhancement of the class outlook of the workers of the unorganised sector.  It was also essential to gain the confidence of the unorganised workers, the commission report pointed out.  The commission on social security emphasised that workers needed to be made fully conscious of the various aspects of the legislations and codes existing in this regard.  At the same time, the movement for social security must be made popular and strengthened at all levels.


The conference declared a drive would be undertaken to increase the CITU district membership, standing at present at 1.6 lakh, by a further 20 per cent.  The conference took cognisance of the assault faced by the workers of the district because of the policy of globalisation and neo-liberalism adopted by the union government in the recent past. 


Four large PSU’s have downed shutters as a consequence.  Also closed down have been a number of small and medium-sized production units for much the same reason.  The onslaught leading to the reduction in the number of workers have followed suit.  The CITU called for a stronger and more organised movement against these ills, in the days to come.  CITU leader Raghunath Kushari pointed out that the struggles and movements of the CITU could never be associated with anarchy as the proponents against ‘TU militancy” were wont to wax eloquent upon.


A 105 member strong working committee was elected from the seventh conference of the Kolkata CITU.  Rajdeo Goala is the new president and Asim Banerjee, the new general secretary.  There are eight vice-presidents, ten secretaries, and a treasurer.  There are three invitees to the working committee.  60 delegates took part in the discussions, 64 more did so at the level of the two commissions. 


The conference passed resolutions against communalism and fundamentalism, in support of the LF government, against the move to rob the working class of rights, including the right to strike, against the conspiracy of hegemony by the US-led forces of imperialism, in support of the big anti-war procession of September 1, and against the practice of hiring on contract basis.  The conference also passed a resolution calling for ensuring of massive wins by LF candidates in the upcoming by-election to three Kolkata Assembly constituencies.