People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 21, 2007
CITU 12TH ALL INDIA CONFERENCE BEGINS
‘Forward To Bigger Class Struggles’
M K Pandhe delivering the presidential address on the inaugural day
G Mamta from Bangalore
THE 12th all India conference of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) got off to a rousing start with a colourful march of red shirt volunteers to the venue and CITU president M K Pandhe giving the call for further intensification of class struggles.
After receiving the leaders of jathas from various parts of the country, Pandhe unfurled the CITU flag and paid floral tributes at the martyrs column along with CITU general secretary Chittabrata Majumdar and other office bearers and state leaders of CITU.
The inaugural session of the conference began with the welcome address delivered by V J K Nair, president of the reception committee. He extended a warm and hearty welcome to all the delegates and spoke on the history of Bangalore city and the development of trade union struggles and building of CITU in Karnataka.
Delivering the presidential address Pandhe mainly dealt with the international developments and the role of CITU since the national issues were going to be covered in the general secretary’s report. He said that the experience so far has showed that not a single problem facing humanity has been solved by capitalism; on the contrary, the problems got aggravated. Though science and technology has made huge advances, they are not used for the common social good but for enriching the MNCs and for increasing the profits of capitalists. He said that 16 years of globalisation has inflicted severe miseries on the working class and the common people all over the world. Downsizing manpower, increase in the hours of work, deterioration in the working conditions has become the order of the day. While price rise of essential commodities has become a global phenomenon, the wages are not revised resulting in deterioration in the standard of living conditions of the working class.
Pandhe further said that social security benefits are under severe attack. Curtailment of pensionary benefits and welfare measures has become an essential part of ‘ labour reform’. In the name of labour market flexibility, right to hire and fire has been introduced in various countries. Women workers have become a special target of attack –– they are the first to be terminated in the retrenchment drive, he said. Pandhe apprehended the expansionary moves of NATO and said that such moves should be scuttled. Speaking on the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, he said that India should give more importance to this strategic alliance so that the US machinations can be checked in the Asian continent. Pandhe criticised the US policies in the Middle East and said: “US policies have come home to roost making West Asia a hotbed of anti-US struggles.” He also spoke of the situation in neighbouring countries and on the relations with China. Pandhe said that US imperialists are trying to use India as a bulwark against China. India should not fall a victim to this and the cooperation between India and China should strengthen the struggle of the people in the developing countries against the imperialist dictates. Pandhe also spoke on the anti-US upsurge in Latin America, on the international TU movement. With a call ‘Forward To Bigger Class Battles’ Pandhe ended his speech saying, ‘We shall overcome one day!’
Chittabrata Majumdar and M K Pandhe placing wreaths at the martyrs column
ILO India representative Leyla Tegmo Reddy congratulated the CITU and said that ILO and CITU share a cordial relationship. She said that India is passing through a crucial phase where high rates of growth and development of economy are accompanied by low levels of employment generation. She hurled showers of praise on CITU for being in the forefront of the struggles for protecting the rights of the working class. She also congratulated CITU for steadfastly taking up women’s issues and promoting women in the trade unions and said: “women need TUs and TUs need women.” Leyla stated that CITU and ILO are working in collaboration on issues like child labour, bonded labour, home-based workers, migrant workers and HIV infected persons.
A total of 60 fraternal delegates from 30 countries are participating in the conference. Indian fraternal trade union leaders – Gurudas Dasgupta (AITUC), V Shankar (AICCTU), G R Sivashankar (UTUC), Adyantaya (INTUC) and Radha Krishna [UTUC(L-S)] – greeted the delegates in the inaugural session. BMS sent a letter greeting the conference.
At present CITU membership has touched almost 4 million mark (39.18 lakh received, some more are in the pipeline). Around 50 per cent of the membership is from unorganised sector. Women workers represent 22.7 per cent of total membership. In Karnataka it is more than 57 per cent and in Assam, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh it is around 45 per cent. Around 70 million workers joined the last general strike on December 14, 2006.
A resolution greeting the working people of Karnataka was moved by W R Varadarajan and was seconded by Prasanna Kumar, CITU general secretary of Karnataka.