People's Democracy

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


No. 05

February 04, 2007



Resist Onslaughts On Labour Rights



G Mamta


A TOTAL of 51 delegates from different states representing workers from all the sectors of the economy – organised and unorganised, public and private sector, manufacturing and service segments – participated in the discussion on general secretary’s report. Speakers from different states and industries, while narrating their experience of bitter struggle in defence of the rights of the workers in different sectors braving victimisation and brutal atrocities by the employers-administration combine, stressed upon the need for intensifying the countrywide united resistance against the onslaughts on labour rights in the days to come. A desperate violation of all basic labour laws is being promoted by the governments themselves in most of the states, which threatens the basic democratic structure. 


The resistance struggle against such State-sponsored anarchy in workplaces at the behest of the employers, both domestic and foreign, must have to be intensified. This must be done by expanding the horizon of the struggle of the working class towards broadest mobilisation of people against the neo-liberal policy of the government in its entirety, the speakers reiterated. The issue of indulgence to and patronisation of reckless violation of all labour laws by the administration itself could be brought to the national agenda of the forthcoming 41st Indian Labour Conference through consistent struggle and campaign all over the country as pointed out by many speakers. Deliberations also pointed out to the serious crisis gripping the agrarian sector of the country as a fall out of the neo-liberal economic policy of the government resulting in increasing spate of suicides among the farmers, steep increase in rural unemployment added to already very high level of urban unemployment. Closure and sickness of industries are making the situation even more critical for mass of the common people. The media-hyped euphoria of high GDP growth rate carries no meaning for mass of the populace, the speakers asserted forcefully. These discussions on the general secretary’s report and enriched the document.




The conference held a separate session on working women. K Hemalata, Secretary, CITU, presented before the conference “The Declaration on Tasks on the Working Women Front”, based on the document adopted by the All India Convention of Working Women held at Visakhapatnam on November 3-5, 2007. A total of 27 delegates took part in the discussions on the declaration. The conference felt that the constitution of working women coordination committees at various levels should be given importance and their functioning should be improved. Cadre development, training working women to shoulder higher responsibilities and promoting women to leadership levels should be given priority.


The conference adopted the declaration unanimously. 




The fourth day of the Conference was devoted to discussion in Commission on six different issues of crucial relevance to working class movement in the country. The subjects were 1) International Trade Union Movement: Some Recent Developments and Strengthening of Unity, 2) Judiciary and the Indian Working Class, 3) Approach Paper of Eleventh Five Year Plan – A Working Class Perspective, 4) Menace of Contractorisation and Outsourcing, 5) World Trade Organisation- Present Issues and Challenges, 6) Special Economic Zones—Need for Policy Review. 


A K Padmanabhan, Kali Ghosh, Raghunath Singh, Mercykutty Amma, Deben Bhattacharya and S Veeraiah chaired the Commissions and Swadesh Dev Roye, K Hemalata, Jibon Roy, Tapan Sen, W R Varada Rajan and Dipankar Mukherjee, all office bearers of CITU, presented and summed up the discussion papers. Around 300 delegates took part in the deliberation in all the commissions and made important suggestions and observations on the concerned subjects. It was decided that the CITU secretariat would finalise the Commission Documents taking into consideration the points raised in the deliberations.


In the Commission on SEZs, 38 comrades from various states took part in the discussions. There was unanimity that SEZs are a new tool in the hands of the promoters of the neo-liberal reforms. All the participants were unanimous on the need for a national campaign together with AIKS on the issue of the SEZs as in many states prime, fertile agricultural land is being taken away without proper compensation and given to industrial houses at throwaway prices. It is a loot of the land and revenue. The discussion demanded review of the SEZ Act along with (i) a cap on the number of SEZs in the state (ii) a cap on the area of the land that is to be given to the SEZs (iii) the product that would be created in the SEZ should be specified before the SEZ is finalised (iv) a central legislation should be promulgated so that each state does not decide according to the whims and fancies and ensure that no labour laws are violated. It should also ensure that the law of the land is followed even in the SEZs – in both the areas concerned with financial and labour issues.


The Commission also suggested for a campaign to counter the slanderous campaign being carried out against the Left Front government in West Bengal. 


Tapan Sen reported on the Commission paper on the contractualisation of work force. 468 comrades attended the commission while 52 took part in the discussions. He said that through the discussion various forms of contractualisation that is taking place across the country were highlighted. The relationship between the worker and the owner is vague and abstract and is adjusted with the ups and downs of the market. The existing relationship is like that of bonded labour. There is jungle raj that is prevalent with no laws being followed and the welfare of the workers often forgotten. A large number of workers are migrant labour and the CITU should address this issue immediately. A suggestion was made by the Commission to organise industry and district level workshops on this issue. Another suggestion was that the parent units should have links with the workers in the outsourcing centres and thus should forge a unity among the workers. It was also proposed to organise an all India convention on this issue.


Hemalata reported the discussions on the Commission on judiciary. 394 comrades from 22 states attended the commission discussions and 42 took part in the discussions. The following suggestions were made:


  1. Broad campaign should be conducted to create awareness among the workers and the people in general about the character of the judiciary and the anti-people and anti-worker judgements, which also attack the democratic rights of the people.

  2. Create broad unity by involving the trade unions, lawyers’ organisations, intellectuals, peasants’ organisations etc

  3. The Left parliament members to be requested to introduce a private member’s bill to provide accountability and transparency among the judiciary

  4. Formation of legal cells at the national and state centres of CITU; the legal cell at the national centre should formulate draft bills, amendments to legislations and make efforts for their presentation as private members bills in the parliament; the legal cell should also prepare a note for the campaign


Jibon Roy reported on the discussions held in the Commission on the Approach Paper to Eleventh Plan. 34 comrades took part in the discussions. Varadarajan reported the discussion of the Commission on the WTO. 315 comrades attended the Commission and 49 comrades took part in the discussions. The Commission opined that quantitative restrictions should be reimposed so that the small industries can get some respite from the onslaught of big corporations and dumping from the developed countries. It was suggested to organise workshops on this issue.


Swadesh Deve Roy reported on the discussion of the Commission on the international trade union movement. A suggestion that has come up was that the CITU should focus on the IT sector.




In his reply Chittabrata Majumdar said that the organisation also had to take up the issue of the migrant workers as today a large section of the unorganised sector are consisting of the workers who have migrated to the towns and cities in search of work unable to bear the rural distress. He proposed that the CITU, AIKS and AIAWU should organise a common campaign on issues like price rise that have an adverse affect on the livelihood of the toiling sections of our country. Agreeing to the suggestions made for the revival of the NPMO he stressed the necessity for joint activities on the issues like agrarian distress, unemployment etc. He emphasised the need to take up these issues down to the grassroots level and also the need for mobilising the masses on the issues. He proposed that in the first week of March a campaign day should be organised in consultation with the AIKS and AIAWU focussing on the demands against price rise, strengthening of the PDS, comprehensive legislations for the agricultural labourers and unorganised workers separately, universalisation of employment guarantee act, universalisation of ICDS etc. He also lauded the struggle of the peasants of Rajasthan and said that the workers were hand in hand with them in this struggle and called for extending it to other areas as well. He once again highlighted the growing offensive on the rights of the working class and emphasised on the necessity to fight them by mobilising large sections of the working class. Quoting the Economic Survey report of the central government that investments are going only to those states that have reformed their labour laws and thus resulting in employment generation, he said that this clearly shows us the attitude of the central government towards the working class. This indirectly is a suggestion that investment would not come to those states that have labour friendly laws. He called upon the delegates to fight against this anti-working class attitude of the government. He reminded the house of the attack on the government employees in Tamilnadu and said that this is also a result of the same mind set. 


Chittabrata Majumdar also highlighted the struggles carried out by the workers against these kind of policies in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and elsewhere in the country and said that these struggles were in fact supported by many mass organisations of the students, youth, women and peasants. He also stressed on the need for improving on the democratic functioning of the organisation and taking the workers into confidence and the necessity to develop cadre from them. He also called upon the delegates to simultaneously raise the consciousness of the workers and make them understand the necessity of social change-from capitalism to socialism.


The general secretary's report was adopted unanimously.


The conference concluded successfully with the unanimous election of new leadership and a massive public rally in Bangalore.


(with inputs from Tapan Sen)