(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 18, 2008
Intensify The Worldwide Struggle Against Capitalist Globalisation
M K Pandhe
THE increasing realisation among the working class in all the continents – from their own bitter experience that the globalisation process has marginalised them and the trade union movement – is making increased numbers of them join the global struggles to resist the depredation of the capitalist classes.
In the name of globalisation what is today the order of the day include largescale downsizing of manpower, contractorisation and casualisation of the workforce in the name of labour flexibility, liquidation of public sector undertakings and handing over of valuable national assets to private tycoons at throwaway prices, destruction of small producers and handing retail operations to corporate sector, drastic curtailment of social security benefits of the workers, introduction of the hire and fire policy making labour laws ineffective, increasing global and national inequality adding to the pauperization of large section of the people in the developing countries etc etc. These aspects have come to the forefront of the trade union movement today and it is becoming increasingly difficult for global capitalism to cover up this malaise.
The growing curve of working class struggles was witnessed all over the world including USA. The AFL-CIO is unable to control the resistance struggle in USA as the voice of dissent is powerfully being raised by several industrial and local unions. In Latin America, Africa and Asia united struggles have emerged to protect the job security of the workers. In Europe the local level struggles have become stronger, though at times they are dubbed as unofficial strikes.
Despite resorting to arbitrary measures to suppress the struggles of the working class, global capitalism today is facing an acute economic crisis. USA, the most powerful capitalist power on earth, is facing all round recession, which some economists have characterised as biggest once ever since the 1930 crisis.
The economic crisis in USA impacts other major capitalist countries which are already having troubled economies. The talk of a global slowdown is being talked openly by even the World Bank and the IMF. Attempts to pass on the burden of this crisis on to the toiling masses all over the world will be met with enhanced resistance from the affected people. Although the Indian finance minister is loudly proclaiming that the US crisis would not affect India, the global recession is bound to have its adverse impact on the Indian economy.
Unemployment in OECD countries has been growing at a faster rate. According to official data the total unemployment in OECD countries has reached 3.44 crore. The unemployment figures reported by major capitalist countries are as follows:
USA - 70 lakh; Germany - 42 lakh; Japan - 27 lakh; UK - 16 lakh and Poland - 23 lakh. However, the actual unemployment is much higher than the officially admitted data.
According to World Bank persons living on a daily income of one dollar (around Rs 40) are classified as people living below abject poverty line. The numbers of such persons between 1993-2002 have gone up in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the net result of globalisation faced by the people in developing countries. During 1980 and 2005 the annual rate of growth of production of cereals such as rice, wheat and maize has declined in most of the developing countries and at times, even less than the rate of population growth in these countries, which is responsible for the prevalent food crises.
The Bush administration is spending a huge $12 billion (around Rs 48,000 crore) per month on Iraq war, which is likely to go up further. The Nobel Prize winner economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz recently pointed out the US bankruptcy in Iraq war in the following terms, "The National Debt has increased by 50 per cent in eight years, with almost $1 trillion (around Rs 40 lakh crore) of this increase due to war, an amount likely to be more than double within ten years." He further questioned, "Who would have believed that one administration could do so much damage so quickly? America and the world will be paying to repair it for decades to come". This underlines why the people in USA are becoming more and more opposed to the reckless war being fought in Iraq due to aggressive design of US imperialists.
The Human Development Report 2007-08 published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has noted the growing poverty and destitution in the world. According to the Report 40 per cent of the world population living in developing countries accounts for only 5 per cent of the global income. The same Report noted that 20 per cent richest persons are enjoying more than three fourth of the world income! One crore children in the world die before reaching the age of 5 every year. Thirty lakh die due to HIV/AIDS every year, there are 35 crore cases of malaria in the developing countries. Africa accounts for 90 per cent of malarial deaths.
Due to reckless industrialisation programmes in advanced capitalist countries the emission of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing at an alarming level which is affecting the conditions of the life of the poor people in the developing countries. However, US continues to refuse to implement international commitments to reduce the levels of emission of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The UNDP report has correctly noted, "across developing countries, millions of world's poorest people are already being forced to cope with the impact of climate change. But increased exposure to draught, to more intense storms, to floods and environmental stress is holding back the effort of the world's poor to build a better life for themselves and their children." The Report therefore concluded, "looking to the future, the danger is that it will stall and then reverse progress built up over generations not just in cutting extreme poverty, but in health, nutrition, education and other areas".
In this context the growing urge for the unity among the working class all over the world was clearly reflected in the two international conferences of trade unions held in India after the last May Day at the initiative taken by CITU.
On December 14-16, 2007 the International Coal Miners Conference was held at Kolkata which was participated by 60 foreign representatives of coal miners unions of all affiliations. The conference underlined that the ideological differences should not come in the way of united actions of the working class. The Declaration adopted by the conference condemned globalisation, privatisation, contractorisation and casualisation and called upon the coal miners to resist these attempts of employers. It also formed an international committee to carry forward the task laid down by the conference. It is worth noting that all-international organisation of miners and ILO also participated in the conference.
Another initiative of the CITU was to hold the Eighth Congress of Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR) in Kochi from April 19-23, 2008 which was participated by about 80 foreign and over 100 Indian delegates. The congress reviewed the impact of globalisation and consequent attacks on trade union rights all over the world. It discussed at length various aspects of structural adjustment programmes and evolved ways to resist their adverse impact on the working class.
In this conference also trade unions of all affiliations participated and discussed in a friendly manner all the outstanding problems faced by the working class all over the world. It was also pointed out during the congress the strenuous attempt made by the globalised capital to sow illusions among the working class, to prevail upon them to accept globalisation. Hence it noted the need to expose and resist these attempts to blunt the edge of working class struggles against globalisation emerging all over the world.
These two conferences enhanced CITU's prestige internationally. CITU's participation in WFTU's presidential council held at Khartoum helped CITU to come closer to trade union movement in Africa. Overall last year we witnessed a remarkable growth of unity among workers of the world.
The working class of India has been involved in relentless struggles against the policies of globalisation during last year. The UPA government during its four-year tenure has taken sustained anti-working class attitude which adversely affected the working and living conditions of the workers. Most of the commitments given in the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) were wither not implemented or blantanly violated. The Bill relating to working conditions of unorganized workers does not contain any provision for concrete benefit to the vast multitude of our working class. The parliamentary standing committee on labour has recommended redrafting of the entire bill in the light of suggestions given by the central trade unions. However the ministry of labour refused to take any step in the matter. Dr Arjun Sengupta Committee has also given concrete proposals for such a bill which has not yet been cleared by the cabinet with the result that none of the bills are yet to see the light of the day.
Despite the solemn assurance given in the NCMP that a separate bill for the agriculture workers would be adopted by the government, no such step has been taken during the last four years. The vast section of agriculture workers today are without any legal protection. The Special Economic Zones and Export Processing Zones are still exempted from implementation of labour laws, leaving lakhs of workers without any protection and guaranteed standard of living. The government is also allowing the industrialists illegally to extract twelve hours of work per day. Any struggle launched by the workers to oppose this illegal practice is faced with brutal repression by the employers.
Hire and fire policy is being implemented in practice although no formal law has been adopted for this. As a result, unemployment has increased in large scale and medium industries. The women workers are the first to be penalized in case of any retrenchment drive. The cases of sexual harassment of women at the work place are increasing. The conditions in the IT sector are extremely bad for women. The central government has not taken any step in this regard. The promise of the government of India to revive potentially viable sick industries by giving them necessary financial assistance has remained unimplemented.
The public sector workers have been made special target of attack by the government attempts are being made to compel them to accept a ten years settlement in spite of opposition by the all central trade unions. The Sixth Pay Commission report has recommended sizeable increases for the top bureaucrats while giving paltry rise for the low paid employees. Moreover Group D jobs covering 12 lakh workers will face outsourcing of their jobs and ultimately total loss of job for them. There is acute resentment among the central government employees who are preparing for a countrywide struggle to oppose these recommendations. It has also recommended the corporatisation of railways and defence ordnance factories as a step towards their ultimate privatisation.
All these economic policies are accompanied by pro-US stance of the government of India which is succumbing to the pressure of US imperialists. This dangerous shift in the policy has posed a serious threat to India's commitment to Non-Alignment Policy.
The growing trade union unity among the working class a big asset to the working class movement which is increasingly strengthening the worker peasant alliance in the country. The recent steps taken by CITU and AIKS will unleash the powerful united movement to fight against the anti-people policies of the central government.