People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 14, 2007
On To CITU 12th All India Conference
M K Pandhe
THE 12th All India Conference of the CITU will be held at Bangalore from January 17-21, 2007. Around 2500 delegates from all over the country will be attending the conference. They will discuss the gravity of the situation in the country arising out of growing attacks on the working class by the UPA government and chalk out future programme of action to resist these attacks unitedly so that the working class interests are fully protected.
The venue of the conference is named after Comrade S Suryanarayana Rao, former vice-president of the CITU and veteran trade union leader of Karnataka. The reception committee with V J K Nair as the chairman and Prasanna Kumar as general secretary has informed that the preparations for the successful holding of the conference are in full swing. The venue of the conference is centrally located in the city.
Over 60 delegates from fraternal organisations from 30 countries will be participating in the conference expressing their solidarity with the struggles being conducted by the working class in India. Participation of such a large number of foreign delegates reflects the growing international relations of CITU. Never before had such a large number of foreign delegations attended the CITU conference. For the first time a delegation is coming from USA. Also attending the conference would be the general secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). The West Bengal state committee of the CITU has arranged a 4-day solidarity programme for the Cuban delegation.
The reception committee has already collected over Rs 50 lakh from amongst the workers for the preparations of the conference. All CITU unions are trying their utmost to raise sufficient resources for the success of the conference.
The presidential address, report of the general secretary, commission papers and all other documents were supplied to state committees in advance so that they can be translated into different languages and comrades can assimilate the contents thereof.
The All India Working Women’s Convention, held at Visakhapatnam in the first week of November, was a part of the CITU conference. Four hundred delegates attended it and decided to strengthen the activities among the working women in all the states.
JATHAS COVERING THE COUNTRY
As a part of the preparations for the conference and for mobilising the people, the CITU has planned countrywide jathas, which will reach Bangalore on January 16. Hundreds of meetings will be held to popularise the policies of the CITU during the course of these jathas and leaflets would be distributed calling upon the people of India to fight against the policies of globalisation.
The North jatha will commence from Jallianwala Bagh at Amritsar (Punjab) and will reach Delhi and cover cities namely Jhansi, Bhopal, Nagpur, Adilabad, Hyderbad, and Kurnool. Comrades from UP, MP, Haryana and Rajasthan will join this jatha on the way.
The 40-member East jatha will commence from Kolkata and will cover Bhubaneshwar, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Hyderabad prior to reaching Bangalore. Comrades from Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and Andhra will join on the way while comrades from Assam and North Eastern states will join at Kolkata itself.
The West jatha will commence from Hutatma Chowk at Mumbai and will cover cities Pune, Kolhapur, Ichalkaraji, Belgaum, Dharwad before reaching Bangalore. Comrades from Gujarat will join the jatha at Mumbai.
Two jathas from South will converge into one at Palghat in Kerala. The first jatha will commence from Chennai and cover Kanchipuram, Puducherry, Cuddalore, Salem, Vamakkal, Erode, Tirupur and Coimbatore. The other jatha will commence from Kanyakumari and cover Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Trichur and reach Palghat. These two jathas will converge into a single jatha on the way to Bangalore.
Senior leaders of the CITU will lead the jathas and they will be received in Bangalore after the flag hoisting ceremony on January 17, prior to the inauguration of the conference.
The jathas held in the run up to the 11th conference evoked massive response from the people where meetings were held to explain the national situation to the people. The CITU has decided to give special emphasis on the question of rising prices of essential commodities and collapse of public distribution system in the present jathas.
FULFIL THE CMP PROMISES
When the 11th conference was held in December 2007 at Chennai, the NDA government was ruling at the centre. The conference gave a call to intensify the struggle against the NDA government’s pro-globalisation policies and communal approach. It also gave a call to defeat the NDA government in parliamentary polls and install a secular and democratic government in India.
The NDA government was ousted from power in the parliamentary elections in April-May 2004 and UPA government was installed with the outside support of the Left parties. The National Common Minimum Programme gave several assurances to the working class which included enacting a legislation for agricultural workers and the unorganised labour, no implementation of hire and fire policy, reservation of jobs in the private sector, control of prices and strengthening of public distribution system, financial assistance to revive the potentially viable sick public sector undertakings, regular consultation with trade unions on labour matters and amendment to labour laws and workers participation in management.
However, two and a half years have passed since then but the UPA government did not find time to implement most of the assurances given in the National Common Minimum Programme. On certain issues the UPA government is taking steps diametrically opposed to what it committed in the CMP. The conference will discuss how to strengthen its campaign to compel the UPA government to fully implement the solemn commitments given to the working class and the toiling people of India while forming the government at the centre.
The UPA government gave a clear-cut assurance that the profit-making public sector undertakings will not be privatised. However, the nationwide struggle of the employees of Airports Authority of India exposed the hollowness of the assurance. The privatisation of Mumbai and Delhi airports has given private sector companies ample opportunities to garner wealth by making these airports commercial complexes. The Ministry of Civil Aviation is currently involved in handing over other airports to private companies at throw-away prices.
The disinvestment of BHEL could be stopped only by the determined stand taken by the Left parties which ultimately compelled the UPA government to stop disinvestments of Navaratna companies in public sector. Attempts to disinvest NALCO and Neyveli Lignite Corporation could be stopped only due to the resolute struggle of the workers and the threat given by the DMK government to withdraw from the UPA government. The entire disinvestment process has been temporarily stopped but the government is trying to reopen the subject with a view to disinvest some other public sector undertakings.
The drive towards FDI investment in banking, telecom, construction and retail sector is already on, while insurance, coal and defense sector is threatened with entry of private capital, both foreign and Indian. The CITU conference will decide to broaden the movement against privatisation and reckless entry of multinational companies in core sectors of our economy. The CITU will stress the need of alternative path of self-reliance to build a powerful national economy.
The prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed due to the forward trading in essential commodities permitted by the government of India. The public distribution system has collapsed due to less procurement and allowing private traders to hoard essential commodities to create artificial scarcity. Due to neglect of agricultural sector by the UPA government, the production of wheat has declined and the government is importing large quantity of wheat. The seriousness of the agrarian crisis was seen in lakhs of peasants committing suicides due to their inability to repay the loan.
The arbitrary increase in the price of petroleum products – due to the government of India’s refusal to reduce the tax burden on oil – has made the life of common man miserable. The drastic reduction in the standard of life of the working class and the people has evoked strong discontent among the vast strata of the toiling people in India. The CITU has already emphasised the need for joint action by workers and peasants movements in India so that powerful struggles can be launched to resist draconian polices of the UPA government. The conference is likely to take steps in the matter to build such a powerful unity.
The CITU and AIKS have jointly decided to organise fishery workers all over India so that their working and living conditions are substantially improved. A joint convention is being planned in Kochi, Kerala, in the third week of March so that this downtrodden strata is properly organised to defend their class interests.
When prices are rising higher and higher, the UPA government introduced a new series of consumer price index with 2001 as the base year despite opposition of all central trade unions. The index is fraudulent due to several manipulations introduced in compilation of prices with the result that it is moving much slowly than the prices of essential commodities. The working class is defrauded of thousands of crores of rupees of dearness allowance every month. The demand of the trade unions to appoint an Index Review Committee has been accepted by the government but not much progress is being made in this regard and the present faulty index continues to depress the standard of living of the workers. The 12th conference will have to address this question seriously and a countrywide campaign has to be planned to ensure that the price index reflects the actual rise in prices.
Since the 11th Conference, CITU has been giving more importance to organise the unorganised workers who do not get any legal protection and live in wretched conditions. The membership of CITU has grown in this sector during the last 3 years. Out of the 40-lakh membership of CITU today, a large bulk is from the unorganised sector of the working class. Several struggles of these workers were conducted by the CITU unions, some of which have resulted in achieving success.
The proposed bill on unorganised workers is highly inadequate and does not ensure proper protection to them. The social security benefits offered so far require much to be improved. There are several clauses in the bill which do not take ground reality into consideration. The UPA government has not yet favourably considered the suggestions jointly given by the central trade unions. The CITU has therefore decided to intensify the struggles of the unorganised workers so that the proposed bill meets the legitimate aspirations of the unorganised workers.
PROBLEMS OF WORKING WOMEN
The problems of working women are engaging more attention of the CITU. The CITU centre has given a directive that a minimum of 15 per cent of the delegation of each state should consist of women so that their issues are properly highlighted in the conference. A remarkable improvement is seen among the anganwadi workers and CITU has emerged as a major organisation of anganwadi workers. In other sectors of employment, women’s problems are being more and more addressed by the CITU unions. In some states, conventions of working women have been organised. The 12th Conference will have to chalk out programme of further activities for the working women by adopting the tasks laid down by the working women’s convention held at Visakhapatnam. Increasing incidences of sexual harassment of working women at the workplace and discrimination against them in employment and promotion should cause concern for the CITU and these issues will be taken up on a priority basis in the forthcoming period.
With sizeable growth in IT sector employees all over India, there is urgent need to regulate the working conditions in this sector. Since profitability is extremely high in this sector the UPA government is ignoring the lack of proper working conditions for these employees. The CITU has been taking up the question of these employees and fighting for the right of IT sector employees to form unions and to have the right of collective bargaining including right to strike.
The CITU has demanded a separate law to govern the working conditions of the employees in the IT sector whose number in India is about one million today and likely to reach 2 million in another 2-3 years. The CITU’s stand is getting increasing support from the IT sector employees. The CITU does not justify considering the entire IT sector as essential service or public utility. While welcoming the development of IT sector in the country we must also fight for improving the working conditions of employees. The 12th Conference will have to address this question in its deliberations.
The manner in which the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are emerging in the country is causing serious concern among the employees. Labour Laws are not implemented in these zones and trade unions are not allowed to be formed. Fantastic tax concessions are given to the employers to garner high rate of profits. The Reserve Bank has characterised the SEZ as real estate development. In some states the land of the peasants is forcibly occupied by the government without taking any steps for proper rehabilitation of the evicted peasants. More than 200 SEZs have already been sanctioned and the number is likely to exceed to 400 shortly. This may become a major problem for the trade union movement where islands of jungle law will be created with the working class totally deprived of all the trade union rights and benefits of labour legislations.
The CITU conference supports the struggles all over the world against imperialist domination and dictates. The MNCs are running amok and cornering huge assets and striving to control all natural resources of the world. Global inequality is increasing at a rapid pace than ever before.
The conference will support the struggle of the people of Palestine against Israeli occupation abetted by US imperialism. It will condemn US occupation of Iraq and the hanging of Saddam Hussein, nuclear blackmail of Iran, attempts of US to threaten North Korea, Israeli aggression on the people of Lebanon, US intervention in Sudan and other African countries.
The CITU conference will welcome the developments in Latin America where people are up in arms against US imperialist machinations. It will also support the struggle of the people in US against unjust war in Iraq.
The CITU conference will condemn India’s nuclear deal with USA which compromises with India’s sovereignty and self-reliance in nuclear development. A powerful campaign will have to be launched to educate the working class and the people of India about the dangerous consequences of the deal.
During CITU conference several programmes have been arranged for foreign delegates who will explain the situation in their country on various issues facing the working class. It will be a good occasion for the Bangalore-based trade unions to know about the developments in different parts of the globe.
IN-DEPTH DISCUSSION IN SIX COMMISSIONS
For in-depth discussion, the conference will divide itself into six commissions during which a large number of delegates will participate in discussion. The full day discussion will conclude with suitable recommendations which will be reported in the conference. The following topics have been finalised by the CITU secretariat.
1. International trade union movement and strengthening of unity
2. Judiciary and the working class
3. Growing contractorisation and outsourcing in Indian Industries
4. Approach paper on Eleventh Five Year Plan
5. Issues related to WTO and the developing countries
6. UPA government’s policy on Special Economic Zones
The finalised documents will be published by the CITU for organising a countrywide campaign on these issues. Senior leaders of the CITU will conduct the discussion in the commissions and finalise the recommendations in the light of discussions.
A massive procession will be organised on January 21 which will culminate in a public meeting wherein the decisions of the 12th Conference will be explained.
The 12th conference of the CITU will be a milestone in the history of CITU which will pave the way for an increased role of the CITU in the trade union and democratic movement in the country.