People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 11, 2007
7th All India Conference of BEFI
BANK Employees Federation of India (BEFI) held its 7th conference in the historic city of Hyderabad from January 7-10, 2007. BEFI thanks the comrades of Andhra Pradesh state unit of BEFI who hosted the conference and worked day in and day out for the last three months to make it a thunderous success.
BEFI traversing the glorious path of continuous struggle has leaped into its silver jubilee year in 2007. The path has not been smooth all through, rather marked with different twists and turns. Members of BEFI have reasons to be proud of the fact that their organisation fulfilling the urge of the history is now rightly considered to be the axis of the development of the Bank employees’ movement in the right direction. BEFI extends red salute to all its members on this historic occasion for having played a decisive role for the last long 24 years.
Before the formal inauguration of the conference, BEFI president P.S. Pillai hoisted the flag of the organisation amidst cheers and slogans and then the members of the outgoing central committee, the reception committee and other distinguished guests paid floral tributes to the martyrs column set up at the main entrance of the auditorium, Kalyana Mandapam (APSRTC hall).
The open session started with the welcome address delivered by the chairman of the reception committee, Hon’ble speaker of the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly, Shri K. R. Suresh Reddy. Sitaram Yechury, MP and noted leader of left and democratic movements, inaugurated the conference formally. In his inaugural speech, he dwelt upon at length international, national scenario in the perspective of given imperialist globalisation, essentially dominated by the international finance capital. This has given rise to sharp economic disparities not only among different countries of the world but also among different parts of a particular country, he stated. He further commented that so far as our country is concerned, it is divided into one “Shining India” and the other “Suffering India”. In this context he also referred to the pro-capitalist policies of economic reforms being pursued by the present UPA government at the centre in utter deviation of the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP). The working class being the worst hit of the situation, he called upon the bank employees to build up a broad-based united struggle against the rabidly fraudulent economic reforms in a sustained manner so as to compel the government to toe the line of pro-people reforms.
Chief guest W R Varadarajan, secretary, CITU, while explaining in detail the on-going reforms and the working class struggle at the national level stressed on raising the level of political consciousness of the working class to strengthen their fight against imperialist globalisation. He urged upon the bank employees to play an effective role in this respect. Guest speaker K Venugopal, general secretary, AIIEA, in his address stressed on the emergent need of forging greater unity among the employees of banking and insurance sectors which, he felt, will definitely boost the struggle against policies of pro-imperialist reforms.
Lulamile Sotaka, president, Trade Union International of Public and Allied Employees (TUI PAE), attended the conference along with two other comrades from South Africa. Their presence all through the conference, no doubt, lent it a glorious distinction. Sotaka while addressing the session expressed TUI’s solidarity with BEFI with a big applause and then went on recounting the US-led hegemony all over the world. He firmly pleaded for international working class unity in struggles to defeat the menace of imperialist hegemony in the name of so-called globalisation.
After the open session, a colourful rally marched past main thoroughfares of Hyderabad city. A huge number of Bank employees and other participants carrying banners, placards and flags and shouting slogans took part in the rally, including foreign delegates
As scheduled, the women’s session was held in the evening of the first day of the conference. This session was presided over by a presidium consisting of three women members. Sudha Sundararaman, general secretary, AIDWA, was the main speaker of the session. In her address Sudha eloquently deliberated on various issues pertaining to the working women in both organised and unorganised sectors and the acute exploitation, deprivation including physical and mental torture they are in particular subjected to as a result of neo-liberal economic reforms. She exhorted the women to consolidate themselves and join the main stream of the working class movement to find a way out.
Nomthandazo Sikiti, International Relations Officer, National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) and a member of the delegation from South Africa greeted the session. In her brief speech she shared the experience of struggle launched by women in South Africa for empowerment and highlighted the necessity for organising a strong campaign movement against HIV/AIDS on a global plane.
Kalyani Chakraborty, convenor, women’s sub committee, placed an organisational note and a good number of women representatives coming from different states deliberated on it. The session was no doubt a lively one with participation not only of women members but also of a great many male comrades.
The delegate dession commenced with the placement of the general secretary’s report by Santi Bardhan, general secretary and the statement of accounts by Naba Kumar Shome, treasurer. The report was well exhaustive highlighting all the pertinent international and national developments and the focal issues of the banking industry ranging from privatisation, outsourcing, merger and acquisition, second option for pension, downsizing of manpower to details of organisational programmes bank-wise and state-wise undertaken so far. 71 members out of a total 823 delegates and observers attending the conference participated in the deliberations on the report for more than 700 minutes in subsequent two days and enriched the same with their constructive criticism and valuable suggestions. The report along-with the statement of accounts was accepted by the house unanimously amidst thunderous applause after the specific and thought-provoking reply given by the general secretary. Besides the resolution on tasks, 13 other resolutions unanimously adopted in the conference are as follows:
i) on one more option for pension ii) on future struggle of the bank employees iii) on merger and acquisition of banks iv) on economic and labour policy of UPA government v) on appointment on compassionate grounds vi) on conversion of part time employees, absorption of casual workers and personal drivers. vii) on imperialist maneuvers viii) on recruitment ix) on communal harmony x) on outsourcing xi) on restructuring of regional rural banks/formation of national rural bank of India. xii) On tax payable by co-operative banks. xiii) on attacks on central bank of India employees.
New central committee and general council including following advisors and office bearers were elected by the conference unanimously.
Ashis Sen, Shanti Ranjan Bal
President: P S Pillai
Vice Presidents: Santi Bardhan, M S N Rao, Uddhab Kakati, B Prasad, M V Madhav Rao, Sayeed Khan
General Secretary: Pradip Biswas
Secretaries: G M V Nayak, K Krishnan
Joint Secretaries: Pradeep Sarangi, M L Malkotia, A K Ramesh Babu, Pranab Chowdhury, Joydeb Dasgupta, M R Shenoy
Treasurer: N K Shome
The conference concluded successfully and held a powerful demonstration outside the auditorium observing the anti-globalization solidarity day at the call of TUI PAE. Sotaka, president, TUI PAE and two other delegates from South Africa also participated.
NARESH PAUL MEMORIAL LECTURE
Like the previous one, the 7th conference also organised a seminar on January 8, 2007 in memory of the founder leader of the bank employees’ movement Naresh Paul. Sukomal Sen, a veteran T U leader and general secretary of TUI PAE and All India State Govt. Employees Federation and Professor Prabhat Patnaik, eminent economist, delivered brain storming lectures in the seminar.
Sukomal Sen in his speech identified the US-led imperialism to be the greatest enemy to the age-old human civilization and culture. According to him, pro-imperialist neo-liberal globalisation has no honour for the cultural past and heritage of mankind, no sense of decency and no respect for human civilization. Socialism is the only alternative and the working class both in organised and unorganised sectors must struggle hard in close unity to achieve that desired goal, he opined.
Professor Prabhat Patnaik explained with updated facts and figures how the on-going economic reforms are eating into the vitals of our economic sovereignty and thereby perpetrating ruthless adversities and agonies on the common people particularly on the working class and weaker sections of the society. He strongly advocated for working class unity and sustained struggle to usher in a better alternative.
The seminar was, no doubt, an impressive one and contributed a lot to enrich the audience.
BEFI, since its inception, has been in the path of struggle with its head held high not only to safeguard the rights and privileges of the bank employees but also to keep up the growth and development of the public sector banking. In the face of neo-liberal globalisation dictated by the imperialist forces, being in a defensive fight, broad-based unity of all sections of toiling masses is the need of the hour. As a class-conscious trade union, BEFI is committed to unity and struggle of the entire working class. The 7th conference re-invigorated its members to renew their pledge and accordingly 8-point task resolution has been adopted for sincere and serious implementation in the days to come.