People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIII

No. 35

August 30, 2009

CITU GENERAL COUNCIL MEET

 

“Fight Onslaughts on Livelihood & Labour Rights, Expose Imperialist Designs”

 

Tapan Sen

 

MEETING at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh from August 18 to 21, the General Council of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has urged the working class movement to mobilise the people in the struggle against gradual capitulation of the ruling classes and the government at the centre to the US imperialist designs on all fronts --- economic, political, defence, trade, environment et al, forcing upon the people a reign of miseries and deprivation and at the same time severely undermining the national sovereignty. The General Council noted in detail the miseries inflicted on the mass of the people in the form of back-breaking price rise of essential commodities (which the widespread drought situation throughout the country has further aggravated), attack on labour rights in the face of massive job losses and retrenchment on the plea of recession. On the other hand, the government of the day is succumbing to the imperialist pressure in deregulating the financial sector of the economy in the midst of a global financial meltdown, giving the foreign products free access to the country’s agricultural and industrial market in the ongoing Doha round of trade talks, making a  posture of surrender in the matter of carbon emission on environmental grounds and allowing US imperialists free hand in the inspection of our defence installations in a shameless manner. The government is thus putting the nation’s sovereignty and economy at stake because of its anxiety of remaining faithful to its strategic alliance with US imperialists. This is having a serious bearing on the livelihood and democratic rights of the people and self-reliant development of the national economy.

In such a situation, the General Council has decided to go in for an intensive countrywide campaign to expose these disastrous anti-national designs, and heighten the united movement of the working class to cry halt to the nefarious game of the ruling classes.

 

REQUISITES

TODAY

The General Council session opened with a mass rally on August 18, attended by tens of thousands of workers from Tirupati and adjoining areas. The presence of women workers in the rally was noticeable. A several thousand strong colourful procession of workers first started at 2.30 pm and moved through the entire city to converge into a rally later. CITU president M K Pandhe, general secretary Mohammed Amin, state CITU president S Veeraiah and general secretary Sudha Bhaskar, among others, addressed the rally.

The General Council session commenced on August 19 at Ramatulshi Kalayanmandapam, with 300 members from all over the country and across the sectors attending it.

In his presidential address, Pandhe dealt in detail with the international scenario of a severe global crisis of the world capitalist order and the severest recession signifying almost a collapse-like situation even in the advanced capitalist countries. Forthright criticisms against the manner capitalism operated under neo-liberal doctrine are being loudly voiced even from unexpected quarters, putting all doctrine-mongers of neo-liberalism on the defensive. Several international forums including the ILO in particular and even some heads of state from advanced capitalist countries are pointing fingers to the policy of deregulated finance, aggressively pushed through at the behest of imperialist powers and multilateral agencies, and the speculation fuelled by such policies, thereby exposing the extreme fragility of the world capitalist order. In this background, the world is also witnessing widespread protest by the toiling people, opposing the bailout of speculators with public money and demanding concrete action against massive job losses, wage cuts etc, and demanding employment and income generation. This is no doubt a positive development for the working class movement and the basic class politics underlying the CITU movement, Pandhe asserted.

The address also pointed to the increasing servility of the Indian government to the US imperialist designs, affecting the country’s sovereignty, our national economy and policies in a big way.

While referring to the setback to the Left in the recent parliamentary elections, the address said the working class movement is now facing a more serious challenge. In order to combat it, the CITU has to prepare organisationally with a clear ideological orientation, fight back the capitalist and imperialist onslaught in a determined manner, continuously sharpen the class struggle, and simultaneously fight the capitalist and imperialist ideologies and their machineries to sow illusion about capitalism among the people. The task of launching uncompromising struggles against alien class ideologies within the working class and to rebuff the trend of reconciling with such ideological attacks on the plea that “there is no alternative” is of paramount importance today for our movement, Pandhe reiterated.

 

NEED TO UNITE

THE MASSES

Mohammed Amin presented the general secretary’s report to the General Council. It outlined the developments in the national context since the last CITU working committee meeting in January 2009. Referring to the setback suffered by the Left in the 15th Lok Sabha elections, the report said the post-election scenario signals a bigger challenge for the working class movement. The moves already made by the new government indicate a more aggressive pursuit of neo-liberal policies in the days to come and a bigger attack on the rights and livelihood of the toiling people. The Economy Survey (2008-09) and both the railway budget and the general budget laid bare in detail the roadmap of the second UPA government for whole-hog  liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation of the Indian economy along with an aggressive design to change the labour laws in favour of the employers. In the face of alarming rises in the prices of essential commodities, the government is refusing to curb the speculation in the commodity market. It has rather taken steps to encourage speculation by abolishing the commodity transaction tax in the latest budget.

On the other hand, the report pointed out, policy initiatives of the Congress led government, in both the economic and political fields, are visibly in tune with US imperialist interests --- much to the detriment of the interests of the national economy and common people. The government is seen capitulating to the US imperialists and remained a mere onlooker during the G-8 summit in Italy in July 2009. The US administration succeeded to persuade the summit not to transfer full Enrichment and Reprocessing (ENR) technologies to non-NPT countries, which demolished all claims of the UPA government that the Indo-US nuclear deal was unconditional. The recent Indo-US joint statement after the visit of US secretary of state Hillary Clinton did not leave any shade of doubt on India’s growing entanglement with USA as its junior strategic partner. The End Use Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) for the sale of American military hardware, allowing American inspection of Indian military installations, is one of the meekest surrender of national sovereignty in the post-independent India. Washington’s growing pressure on India on the Doha round of trade talks relating to agriculture, the ongoing talks on climate change to force India to cut down carbon emission and India’s vacillating stance on all those issues are indications of such capitulation.

Overall, the situation today is such that our rulers are gradually pushing the country into a neo-colonial trap. The CITU has to play a frontline role in mobilising the people against the nefarious US imperialist designs and the capitulating stance of Indian ruling classes.

Mohd Amin pointed out that CITU must draw appropriate lessons from the setback suffered by the Left in the elections, undertake a thorough review of our organisational and ideological activities, of the shortcomings and weaknesses therein at all levels, and prepare to combat the unfolding challenges before the working class movement by uniting the entire class in struggle.

The report also dealt with the continuing physical attacks being made against the Left forces and the democratic movement in West Bengal by the Trinamul Congress and the so-called Maoists. Since the announcement of election results, these attacks have claimed the life of more than a hundred comrades. These fierce attacks by the anti-Left gang-up in West Bengal have to be understood as an integral part of the imperialist project to marginalise the Left and working class movement, and the CITU must rise as one man to combat it. Amin emphatically said we have to organise countrywide campaigns of solidarity with the comrades of West Bengal who are heroically resisting such offensives, and also against imperialist machinations against India.

The report also pointed out that the Congress led combine’s sense of jubilation over its recent victory cannot last for long. In the present crisis ridden situation, the policy compulsions of a neo-liberal regime are destined to make the crisis more severe and negatively impact the mass of the people, resulting in their disillusionment provided our campaign is effective. We must be in readiness throughout the country to address such a situation by mobilising the toiling masses for the increasingly fiercer struggle. We need to work for broadening the united platform of struggle on the one hand. On the other hand, the CITU must prepare itself ideologically and organisationally at all levels, Amin reiterated.

 

ON PROPOSED

CONVENTIONS

In the deliberation that followed, 37 comrades took part, as did leaders from industrial federations from the coal, steel, waterfront, electricity, anganwadi, plantation, construction and petroleum sectors. Leaders from fraternal trade unions like the BEFI, AIIEA, AISGEF and AIDEF, among others, also addressed the General Council.

All the speakers broadly endorsed the formulations made in the general secretary’s report, dealt with various shortcomings and weaknesses in the organisation and the past activities with a self-critical approach, and stressed the urgent need of intensive exercise at all levels of the organisation on political and ideological issues to prepare effectively the organisation to confront the challenges ahead. They also suggested solidarity campaigns and actions throughout the country with the struggle of the West Bengal comrades against the concerted attack by the extreme right wing and left extremist combine against the Left forces in the state. Similarly, there was broad agreement on the need of intensive grass-roots level campaign against the anti-people policies of the government and gradual capitulation to imperialism by the ruling polity.

After Mohd Amin replied to the points raised in the deliberation, the General Council unanimously adopted resolutions 1) on drought situation and need for urgent action by the government for relief to the farmers and the people; 2) in solidarity with the BSNL employees’ two-day strike (it has already taken place on August 19-20); 3) in solidarity with the Bengal people’s struggle against attacks from the reactionary and ultra-left forces; 4) greeting the people and working class of Andhra Pradesh; 5) denouncing the central government’s reported move to impose restrictions on enlisting people under the poverty line even under the faulty official parameters; and 6) against the Indo-ASEAN free trade agreement.

The General Council urged the working class to make the joint national convention of central trade unions, to be held on September 14 at New Delhi, a grand success. The convention is likely to chalk out a joint action programme against price rise, job loss and unemployment, disinvestment, attacks on labour rights and to demand improvement in the social security act for unorganised workers. The General Council also called upon all CITU units to join the August 26 national convention on food security at New Delhi. (See the report elsewhere in this issue.) 

Another important decision was to observe “West Bengal Solidarity Day” on September 10 countrywide against the violent Trinamul-Maoist attacks on the Left and the working class movement there with active instigation from some of the central ministers.

The General Council decided for a thorough, self-critical review at all levels of organisation. Regarding the CITU’s 13th national conference in February 2010, it directed the affiliated units and state committees to clear all membership dues to the CITU Centre latest by September 30.

December 3 will mark the 25th anniversary of Bhopal gas disaster at the Union Carbide factory. The CITU units will carry on an intensive campaign with other mass organisations on industrial safety at their respective workplaces and industrial centres, culminating in observance of “National Safety Day” on December 3 throughout the country. The CITU’s Madhya Pradesh state committee will take initiative to organise a seminar in Bhopal, some time in the last week of November, on the issues of concern, and responsibility of the government and employers on safety at workplaces and the adjoining areas.