People's Democracy

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

Vol. XXX

No. 32

August 06, 2006



Prepare For A Countrywide United Strike!


Tapan Sen


THE general council meeting of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) held on July 15-18 at Ranchi, Jharkhand called upon the working class to prepare for a countrywide united strike against the anti-people economic policies of the UPA government leading to back-breaking price rise, farmers’ suicides, aggravating unemployment and attack on the rights and livelihood of the toiling masses. 


The session commenced on July 15 with the welcome address by A K Roy, chairman of the reception committee. The presidential address was delivered by M K Pandhe, which dealt in detail on the imperialist offensives on the developing countries including India in both economic and political fronts with the design to compel the respective governments to capitulate and follow the dictates of the imperialist powers in respect of foreign, economic and political policies. Pandhe also pointed to the increasing incidents of protest and resistance by the working class and the people against imperialist policies throughout the world leading to, in many places and in the Latin America in particular, the change in the political scenario. The imperialists and the enemies of the people cannot have the last word, asserted Pandhe. 




Chittabrata Majumdar presented the general secretary’s report in the session, which dealt at length on the national political situation and in that background the developments in the economic policy front and the response of the working class movements to such developments. While pointing to the results of recent assembly elections and massive victory of Left forces in West Bengal and Kerala and the decline of both the Congress and the BJP-led forces in general, Majumdar explained that these developments point to the potential of a pro-people third alternative which can only be offered by the Left forces. And history shows, the consolidation and widening of the working class movement and through that process, working class’s ability to rally the mass of the people around the same can create the objective condition for the emergence of such a third alternative based on a common pro-people policy approach. The trade union movement must redouble its initiative in that direction, asserted Majumdar.


It was also noted in the report that the heroic and all united struggle by the entire workforce including officers of NALCO and Neyveli Lignite Corporation during early July and its reflection on the political circles could ultimately compel the UPA government to retreat from its ugly design of disinvestments in those profit making PSUs. This shows that the united struggle of the working people of this country has the potential and capability to put a brake to the anti-people designs of the ruling polity. 


The general secretary’s report also dealt on the phenomenon of alarming rise in prices arising out of faulty and hoarders-friendly policies of the central government and the deepening of the agrarian crisis. It also pointed to the desperate bid of the UPA government to privatise the profit-making PSUs and liberalise the financial sector of the economy, allow free run of speculators, both domestic and foreign, in the financial market, FDI in retail trade –– all in total violation of the commitments made in the National Common Minimum Programme. All these measures are making the living conditions of the people miserable, which is reflected in the deepening of poverty, farmers’ suicides, rising unemployment etc. On the other hand calculated onslaughts are being engineered on the rights of the working people through mass scale contractorisation, non-implementation of all labour laws and brutal police atrocities on the trade union activities throughout the country. Violations of labour laws are being promoted by various governments in all spheres and any opposition to that is being tackled almost everywhere by police repression at the instance of the employer. United struggles of the working class have to be heightened in the days to come to cry halt to such retrograde policy drives and attack on the people and we must prepare for countrywide strike action along with other trade unions which must be preceded by intensive campaign and widest mobilisation throughout the country in the coming months, asserted Majumdar. 


A total of 39 members participated in the deliberation on the general secretary report besides 9 fraternal delegates from the fraternal all India federations of state and central government employees, banks, insurance, defence, telecom and railways. Speakers stressed upon the need for a continued process of united struggles to culminate in a countrywide strike action in the first phase. They also emphasised on the urgency of widespread solidarity action to the ongoing struggles in defence of labour rights and against atrocities by the employers and police. 




The general council also held a special discussion on the most burning topic of the day, “Judiciary and the Working Class”. Swadesh Dev Roye, secretary, CITU presented the special discussion paper on the subject. The presentation dealt on the dangerous and emerging trend of series of anti-worker judgements being pronounced by different courts including the Supreme Court, one after another, particularly after the onset of liberalised policy regime. These judgements mark a severe onslaught on the rights of the workers earned through struggle besides demonstrating a trend of undoing and negating whatever protection the workers have under the existing labour laws and constitutional provision. The judgements against ‘right to strike’, denial of right of regularisation of the contract workers deployed in permanent perennial jobs, denial of “equal pay for equal work” for casual workers, upholding the right of the employers to dismiss even on minor and petty issues are a few examples of such anti-worker judgements. This phenomenon of pro-employer interventions by the judiciary, many a time beyond the purview and premises of existing labour laws, has been acting as complementary to the effort of the government to bring about pro-employer changes in labour laws and install a “hire & fire” and a union-free regime in all the workplaces. This posed a serious challenge before the working class movement. 


A total of 30 members took part in the deliberation on the issue till lunch break, most of whom stressed upon the need to unleash a countrywide united struggle to pressurise the governments to bring about appropriate legislations to negate the pernicious impact of these anti-worker judgments. The speakers have also put forth their suggestions on strengthening the formulation and analysis made in the discussion-paper regarding the character of the capitalist system under which the judiciary has been one of the organs of the “State” to carry on exploitation of labour by capital. The General Council thus decided to redraft the discussion paper based on the inputs received from the deliberation for further in-depth discussion in the Commission in the forthcoming 12th all India conference of the CITU to be held in January 2007 in Bangalore. 




The general council also passed a number of resolutions. They are: 1) In support of the forthcoming struggle by the Anganwadi workers and helpers to be held from July 25 onwards (moved by Dipankar Mukherjee and seconded by Nilima Moitra), 2) Denouncing the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai and grenade attack in Srinagar, killing several hundreds of innocent people and injuring many (proposed by Samar Mukherjee and seconded by Jibon Roy), 3) In solidarity with the struggles of Bank Employees (proposed by A K Padmanabhan and seconded by B Sanyal), 4) Against state sponsored violation of labour laws and attack on labour rights (proposed by Basudev Acharia, MP and seconded by Tapan Sen), 5) In support of the struggle of workers in Indian Telephone Industries (proposed by V J K Nair and seconded by K K Divakaran), 6) Against the move of de-linking CMPDIL from Coal India, 7) Against the move of privatisation and outsourcing in Coal India, 8) Denouncing imposition of economic sanctions against Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea.


The general council also made an appeal for solidarity support and extending of assistance for the ongoing struggle by the Hydel project workers in Himachal Pradesh who, braving the murderous assault by the contractor (HCC) and police combine which resulted in the killings of three workers and activists by the contractors goons at Chamera III project of NHPC, have been carrying on their united resistance. In response to the appeal, the West Bengal state committee of the CITU contributed Rs 1,30,000, Kerala state committee committed Rs 1,00,000, in addition to Rs 17,100. The Construction Workers’ Federation of India committed Rs 45,000; Steel Workers Federation of India - Rs 10,000; Tamilanadu state committee - Rs 25,000; Karnataka state committee - Rs 10,000; Jharkhand state committee - Rs 5000 and the All India Road Transport Workers’ Federation has contributed Rs 10,000 to the Himachal comrades struggle. 


Chittabrata Majumdar, while replying to the points raised in the deliberation, mentioned that the National Convention of Trade Unions at the initiative of Sponsoring Committee of Trade Unions, to be held in Delhi on July 25, would decide the united action programmes by the trade unions including countrywide strike against the anti-people policies of the UPA government. Citing the experience of the recent struggles in NALCO and Neyveli, he emphasised on building up all in unity at the grassroots level which can definitely force the government to retrace its steps. Majumdar called upon the CITU units to intensify the campaign throughout the country for the forthcoming united strike action. 


M K Pandhe, while delivering his concluding address stressed upon the need for intensifying the ideological campaign among the working class which is of crucial importance for building up an effective fight against the all out offensives of the capitalist class on the economic, social, cultural and political front. 




Keeping in view the increasing phenomenon of state sponsored violations of all labour laws throughout the country and the brutal atrocities by the police and state administration wherever the workers try to defend themselves from such assault of employers, as has been happening in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, UP, Uttaranchal and other places in the country, the general council called upon all its units and fraternal unions and associations to observe “Anti-Repression Day” on August 10, 2006 through massive demonstrations/dharna/rallies in all state capitals, district headquarters and industrial centers expressing solidarity with the ongoing struggles and raising voice against the unscrupulous game of the employer administration combine to promote blatant violation of labour laws. 


The general council also called upon all the affiliated units, state committees and federations to observe “Anti Imperialist Day” on September 1 jointly with other fraternal mass organisations through countrywide mobilisation. 


The open session of the general council was held on July 18 at Town Hall, Ranchi where thousands of workers from the adjoining areas assembled. The meeting was presided over by S K Bakshi, president, Jharkhand state CITU and was addressed by M K Pandhe, Chittabrata Majumdar, Tapan Sen, Sukomal Sen, J S Majumdar, A K Roy and D D Ramanandan.