People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 10, 2005
ONWARDS TO 18TH PARTY CONGRESS
And Achievements On The Trade Union Front
attempt by the governments at the centre and in many states to pursue the
neo-liberal reforms undermining the national interest and which are against the
interest of the people has been resisted by the working class consistently. The
attacks on the working class and the attempts of encroachment on the hard-earned
privileges and rights enjoyed by the Indian working class have been intensified
further, particularly during the BJP-led NDA government’s period and are
continuing even today. The working class movement during this period, in turn
proved its determination to fight against these onslaughts.
after the defeat of the NDA government and despite attempts to reverse the
policies of government by the Left parties, who have extended outside support to
the UPA government, the attitude of the present government to pursue neo-liberal
reform process persists.
ATTACK ON RIGHT TO STRIKE
attack by Tamil Nadu government against its 13 lakh employees and teachers, who
embarked on an indefinite strike in 2003, detaining over 2300 leaders of the
staff and teachers’ unions and dismissing summarily 1.7 lakh employees using
the TESMA 2002, followed by the pronouncement of the Supreme Court on the issue
of the strike was a rude shock. The remark of the Supreme Court that ‘there is
no fundamental, legal, equitable or moral right to strike’ for government
employees and a sweeping remark denying the right to strike to all workers in
the country was nothing but to deprive the workers of the country of their basic
democratic rights, undoing the prevailing right of collective bargaining. Also
the order of Ranchi High Court banning the strike by steel workers at Bokaro
only adds to the attack on the legitimate rights of the working class.
Supreme Court verdict signifies a new attack against the working class and its
organisations. It synchronises with the ‘hire and fire’ regime, which has
been the clamour of the employers. The denial of right to strike by the apex
court is also an attack on civil liberties, opposed by the then Attorney
General, several former judges and leading lawyers of the country.
central trade union organisations as well as the state and central government
employees’ organisations held national conventions in September 2003
denouncing the attack on the right to strike and demanded that the government of
India should take measures to nullify the pernicious impact of the Supreme Court
judgement. The countrywide campaign and the general strike of February 24, 2004
in defence of right to strike and economic policies saw millions of workers and
employees participating in the protest action.
ON LABOUR RIGHTS
BJP-led NDA government in the name of second-generation reforms mounted a
serious attack on trade union and labour rights, to dismantle the existing
labour laws and impose conditions of slavery on the working class. The
declaration by the then prime minister that the government would vigorously
pursue the labour reform agenda and implement the recommendation of the report
of the Second National Commission on Labour (SNCL), without having any
discussion with the trade unions made the attitude of the NDA amply clear. In
fact the report was a perfect blue print for a wholesale attack on workers’
right to organise, bargain and agitate, including right to strike. Inclusion of
the report of SNCL in the agenda of the Indian Labour Conference was an attempt
to secure some sort of a green signal from the tripartite forum for a go-ahead
on implementation, which CITU and others opposed.
had brought out a comprehensive critique of the Commission Report in a
publication on the subject and launched a countrywide campaign to oppose the
anti-labour recommendations of the report. All the trade unions opposed the
unilateral move of the NDA government to embark on the implementation of the
Commission report in haste and the government was forced to commit to further
consultation with the trade unions.
ON SOCIAL SECURITY
moves to undermine the existing social security set-up by the BJP-led government
is of serious concern, particularly in a scenario where the dire need is to
extend social safety net to the overwhelmingly large section of working force,
which are not covered under any formal scheme in operation now.
contemplated pension sector reforms are mainly intended to flag off private
sector insurance schemes in the era of opening up of the insurance sector. The
government has made up its mind to switch over to the “Defined
Contributions” concept from “Defined Benefit” concept. The budget of 2005
has further proposed for opening up of the pension sector for foreign
investment. This is a totally malicious and dangerous move, as the private
sector players whether indigenous or of foreign origin seek to participate in
social security only eyeing the huge corpus of pension funds, which could be
diverted to the share market at the cost of interest of working class.
interest rate on the Employees Provident Fund was 12 pert cent since 1989-90.
But since 2000-01, the NDA government reduced the same every successive year.
Despite of the demand for restoration of the interest rate to 12 per cent, the
present government has just conceded to hike the interest rate to 9.5 per cent.
previous government attempted to even privatise the ESI dispensaries and curtail
the existing benefits by unbundling the services under the scheme. The
administration of the schemes under EPFO and ESI has suffered seriously because
of laxity of enforcement, under the spurious plea of promoting voluntary
ON PUBLIC SECTOR
BJP-led NDA government set out to completely destroy the public sector from the
industrial map of the country. The rabid anti-public sector policy of the NDA
government had been exposed in the creation of a separate Department of
working class put up determined resistance to the BJP-led government’s
offensive to dismantle the public sector and indiscriminate privatisation of
profitable enterprises. The Nalco struggle in Orissa became a mass popular
movement with major political parties supporting Orissa Bandh in preventing the
privatisation of the profit-making enterprise. During the period of the last
three years, strikes have been organised by the coalmine workers against
privatisation; the employees of HPCL and BPCL went on a strike against the
privatisation move. Millions of workers and employees joined in two general
strikes, the first by public sector workers on April 16, 2002, in defence of the
public sector while the other on May 21, 2003 against the economic policies of
National Common Minimum Programme of the UPA has declared, “The UPA government
is committed to a strong and effective public sector whose social objectives are
met by its commercial functioning.” It further says that; “generally
profit-making companies will not be privatised”. This was possible because of
the pressure by the Left parties.
despite such commitments, different voices from among the ruling parties speak
of disinvestment of the shares in the profit making enterprises. The attempts
for disinvestment in Mumbai and Delhi airports, NTPC etc, need to be looked at
seriously and such moves to privatise through an indirect route shall be
resisted by the working class.
strikes in the banks, general insurance, life insurance and the agitation in the
postal departments, BSNL in the recent times have been organised to defend the
right of the employees as well as in the broader national economic interest. The
one-day countrywide strike in the banks on March 22, 2005 was against the
government’s attempt to merge the PSU banks undermining the interest of the
banking sector of the country.
RIGHT TO WORK
era of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation has fuelled the problem
of unemployment that reached an unprecedented height. With the progress of
reform process, the jobless growth has been turned to a jobloss growth. In such
a scenario, the working class along with the other sections of the society must
organise an effective movement for the right to work. The CITU organised the
national convention on Right to Work on March 12-13, 2005 at Yuba Bharati
Stadium, Salt Lake, Kolkata. The convention called for a nation-wide campaign
movement on the issue. The convention also resolved to mobilise all the trade
unions and other mass organisations for the campaign and movements demanding
drastic changes in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill tabled in
parliament, which is in total variance with the commitment made in the CMP. CITU
has submitted its views before the Standing Committee for consideration.
is a growing campaign against the trade unions, obviously with the ill-motive to
detract the working class, to convince that the trade unions are no longer able
to look after the interest of the common toiling masses. The mushrooming
non-governmental voluntary organisations, innately opposed to class struggle and
nourished by the foreign money flowing from the capitalist block, are being
projected as saviours. This rampant propaganda against trade unions must be
viewed as an attack on the working class on the ideological front and have to be
OF THE WORKING CLASS
17th Party congress correctly pointed out that considerable section of members
of trade unions do not participate in day-to-day activities. To overcome this,
maintenance of close relations of the leaders with the members through
democratic functioning has been stressed. This is also because of the low level
of consciousness of the mass of working class. Participation of the working
class in struggles against the neo-liberal reform policies indicates some
positive achievement in this regard.
B T Ranadive’s birth centenary was utilised to organise countrywide campaign
among the cadres. Apart from holding central programme, regional TU classes,
state, district and local-level classes, seminars etc. all over the country were
organised. Formation of P Ramamurthi Memorial School of Trade Unions is an
important step to carry forward education programme on a regular basis.
this period, along with the movements and struggles organised at the national
level, the number of agitations and struggle movements, even in several weaker
states, to defend the working class interest took place at plant level as well
as state- level besides industry-wise movements. Stress has also been given to
organise the workers working in the unorganised sector and to work among the
process of organising united movement bringing together all the trade unions and
mass organisations has been continued. The National Platform of Mass
Organisation (NPMO) is the space that needs to be strengthened for mobilising
the entire mass in defending the national interest and to protect interest of
the toiling masses of the country.
more and more working people in the field of struggles against the
anti-national, anti-people and anti-working class policies definitely indicates
the achievement of the Party on the trade union front. We have to take more
initiative to build Party among the working class and educate them, so that,
they can be developed to play a leading role.