(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 08, 2009
The opportunities provided by the present crisis to more effectively expose the real face of globalisation should also be fully utilised by intensifying struggles… At the same time, it was necessary to strengthen united resistance at all levels against the attempts to pass on the burden of the crisis to the working class and the common people.
CITU WORKING COMMITTEE’S CALL TO THE WORKING CLASS
Defeat BJP, Defeat Congress!
Continue Struggle For Alternative Policies!!
THE working committee meeting of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) was held on January 27-29, 2009 amidst daily reports in the media of huge retrenchments, lay offs, wage cuts and loss of jobs across the world, including in India. The three day meeting focussed its discussions on the conditions of the working class and the people in the context of the global economic crisis that was still unfolding and chalked out the course of action to meet the challenges ahead.
The venue of the meeting, which was held in Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust Township at Uran in Raigad district of Maharashtra, was aptly named after Babu Genu, a textile worker who was mowed down by the British trucks while opposing the entry of British textiles into the country during the freedom struggle. M K Pandhe, president of CITU started the proceedings by hoisting the CITU flag at 10.30 in the morning on January 27 and paying floral tributes to the martyrs’ column. The working committee paid rich tributes to the stalwarts of the democratic and working class movements of the country, Harkishan Singh Surjeet and E Balanandan and its former treasurer Ranjit Basu, and others who have passed away during the period after its last meeting. The meeting also paid homage to the martyrs of the Mumbai terrorist attacks. On behalf of the chairperson of the reception committee, Bhushan Patil, its general secretary and leader of the JNPT Employees’ Union welcomed the delegates.
Delivering his presidential address, Pandhe outlined how the financial crisis that started in the USA and was engulfing the entire world, is affecting the real economy. He said that the crisis, which is being compared by eminent economists with the Great Depression of the 1930s, has already spread to Europe, Japan and other advanced capitalist countries and also the developing countries. It was likely to be further accentuated in the near future when another bubble, the credit card bubble, was likely to bust. He recalled Fidel Castro who observed that the present crisis ‘is not the usual crisis that happens every certain number of years, or even traumatic crisis of 1930s; rather the worst of all since the world started to pursue this model of growth and development’. The ILO has estimated that around 5 crore jobs are likely to be lost across the world this year.
The bailout packages, formulated by different bourgeois governments in the world, provided relief to the corporates but not to the workers and the common people who were the worst affected. Rather, they would put immense burden on the people. Contrasting the approach of the governments in the socialist countries, Pandhe told that China too was seriously affected by the global crisis as it had huge exports to the US and other developed countries. But unlike the capitalist countries, socialist China has announced a huge expenditure on developing infrastructure, education, health, etc and increase domestic demand. Another socialist country, Vietnam declared that the crisis would not affect its economy as it would be able to compensate the impact of declined exports by increasing domestic consumption. Socialist Cuba too announced that the crisis would have no impact on its economy.
Pandhe asserted that the global crisis of capitalism has shown to the working class and the people in general that capitalism cannot solve the basic problems of the vast majority of humanity. In Greece, in France, and several other countries, workers were participating in big struggles, which were bound to intensify in the coming period. The ideological development of the working class is of paramount importance now, to prepare it for a long drawn struggle not only against the effects of exploitation but to end exploitation itself. He called upon the CITU to educate the working class about the real character of the capitalist system and how workers could be liberated from wage slavery only under the socialist system.
The report placed by Mohammed Amin, general secretary, dealt elaborately with the national situation. It said that contrary to what was sought to be projected, the crisis has not spared the Indian financial sector completely; several banks including ICICI, SBI, HDFC, PNB etc were involved in dealings worth Rs 2100 crore with the tainted US banks; Lehman Brothers had considerable presence in the Indian real estate sector. However, the impact could have been much more disastrous had the country’s financial sector been allowed to be further deregulated as per the designs of the UPA government. The firm opposition of the Left parties and the united struggles of the financial sector employees have protected the sector to some extent by stalling the attempts of the government for implementing the so-called financial sector reforms. Instead of learning the proper lessons from the experience of the crisis, the government was going ahead with its disastrous decisions, after the withdrawal of support by the Left parties.
Amin asserted that the neo-liberal economic order operates by creating artificial booms by fraudulent methods utilising public funds; when the boom bursts, public funds are utilised to rescue the collapsing private institutions while the people continue to face unemployment, loss of savings, wage cuts, job cuts etc. This was the real face of capitalism, which can never get rid of such crises. The exposure of the more than Rs 7000 crore scam by the management of Satyam Computers, the fourth largest IT company in the country, was yet another example to show that deception and fraud on the people were the hallmarks of the capitalist economy. The Satyam fraud was just the tip of the iceberg in a deregulated economy even though the entire corporate lobby was trying to show that this was just an isolated case.
The impact of the global economic crisis was already being felt by the Indian working class. Thousands of workers, particularly in the export oriented units like textiles, gems and jewelleries, leather, tea, IT and ITES, etc are losing jobs. The construction, transport and aviation sectors have also been severely affected, as are the traditional industries in Kerala like cashew, coir, rubber, fisheries etc. ASSOCHAM has estimated that around 1 crore jobs would be lost in our country in the coming days.
But the government’s apathy and lack of concern for the plight of the workers is evident in the ‘stimulus packages’. The mere Rs 20,000 crore package has no time bound utilisation programme. It will not help in arresting the job losses; it does not provide any succour to the workers who are losing their jobs. At the same time, the government has provided Rs 27,000 crore to the non banking financial companies to bail them out.
The government’s absolute indifference towards the workers was also exposed in the passage of the “Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Bill”, without providing any funds to ensure minimum social security benefits to the unorganised workers. The Act is nothing but a cruel joke on the millions of unorganised workers who would be the worst affected by the present crisis.
He recalled the pioneering efforts made by the CITU in building united resistance against the neo-liberal policies of globalisation since their inception nearly two decades ago. The CITU’s position on the anti-worker, anti-people and anti-national character of neo-liberal globalisation has been vindicated by the current crisis. Now the time has come to carry the struggle to further heights to force a reversal of the economic policies.
Amin expressed serious alarm at the increase in terrorist attacks in various parts of the country and the growing attempts by the communal, terrorist, chauvinist and parochial forces to divide the working class and the people on the basis of religion, caste, region, etc. He strongly criticised the RSS-led Hindutva brigade to give a communal colour to terror in an attempt to derive electoral gains. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Malegaon, Assam, Agartala and other places showed that terror has no religion. Fighting back terrorism and the task of isolating and defeating the communal and divisive forces are an important and urgent task of the working class movement.
He emphasised the need to continue the campaign against the pro-imperialist and surrenderist policies of the Indian ruling classes, which reached its zenith with the India-US nuclear deal. The opportunities provided by the present crisis to more effectively expose the real face of globalisation should also be fully utilised by intensifying struggles. It was necessary to take initiative to educate the CITU cadres and members as well as the common people about the real face of capitalism. At the same time, it was necessary to strengthen united resistance at all levels against the attempts to pass on the burden of the crisis to the working class and the common people. The report emphasised the need to simultaneously carry out both these tasks.
Amin drew the attention of the working class to the ensuing elections to the parliament. The working class had an important role to play in this political struggle and should defeat the anti-worker, anti-people policies that were being pursued by the successive governments at the centre, whether led by the BJP or the Congress. He called upon the working class to ‘Defeat the BJP, Defeat the Congress’. Amin highlighted the role of the Left parties in defending the interests of the working class and stressed the need to strengthen the Left. Pointing out the malicious campaign being unleashed against the Left, he warned that the ruling classes were trying to defame the Left as it was the only force staunchly opposing their pro-imperialist and neo-liberal policies. He appealed to the working class to defend the Left and the state governments led by the Left parties.
The report was unanimously adopted after 35 members of the working committee participated in the discussion and endorsed its formulations. The working committee decided to make the ‘March to Parliament’ programme of the Sponsoring Committee on February 18 a big success. It endorsed a note on the functioning of the Coordination Committees of Working Women and decided to observe the 30 years of formation of the All India Coordination Committee of Working Women by reviewing the CITU’s work among working women and taking appropriate steps for its further advance. The decision of the meeting of CITU activists working among the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) working under the National Rural Health Mission and the Mid Day Meal workers to organise a national convention in Delhi on February 19 was also endorsed by the working committee.
An open rally was organised on January 28 and was addressed by M K Pandhe, Mohammed Amin, D L Karad, general secretary of the Maharashtra state committee of CITU and Hemalata, secretary, CITU.