People's Democracy

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


No. 38

September 20, 2009



Call To Observe National Protest Day, Oct 28


Tapan Sen


ON September 14, 2009, the National Convention of Workers, held in Mavalankar Hall at New Delhi, witnessed the coming together of the entire trade union movement in the country to express serious concern and anguish over the back-breaking rise in prices of daily necessities along with the alarming pace of job-losses, retrenchment, loss of earnings, closure etc across the sectors and throughout the country. All this is taking place in the midst of loud noises being made by the prime minister and his team-mates and parroted by the print and electronic media about the illusory prospect of recovery of the economy from a deep-seated recession.

The National Convention was jointly sponsored by all the major central trade unions in the country, viz., INTUC, BMS, AITUC, CITU, HMS, AIUTUC, AICCTU, UTUC and TUCC. It  was attended by thousand plus delegates from all over the country, covering all sectors of industries and services, and also from some independent all-India federations of the bank, insurance, defence, railways, state and central government employees etc.



It is important to note that the working class movement all over the world have been coming together to fight the burden of current economic crisis as a result of the collapse of �market-driven� neo-liberal economic policies driven by the philosophy of imperialist globalisation. Many of those who have been supporting such policies are now, under the pressure of the situation, compelled to oppose the onslaught of retrenchment, price rise, and attack on labour rights.

While the government is talking loud on the prospect of recovery, and recovery may indeed be taking place in official figures of the growth rate, but that carries no relief to the several millions who have lost their livelihood. Around 50 lakh workers have already been thrown out of employment since October last year, in the name of global recession affecting the Indian economy as well. But the government at the centre, always swearing in the name of aam aadmi, remained busy in showering concessions upon the corporate houses and big business in the name of stimulus packages, completely unmindful and uncaring of millions of the aam aadmi being rendered jobless. The stimulus packages are being funded out from the public exchequer, so as to enable the handful of corporates and big business houses retain the profit margin, while the suffering public have been left out without any relief. That this state of affairs cannot continue, was the bold assertion made by the national convention of workers.

While refusing to take any lesson from the disastrous global financial meltdown caused by reckless and irresponsible speculation by the deregulated financial sector in the USA and Europe, the government of India has been vigorously pursuing the policy of further deregulation of the financial sector and national economy, including the mindless sale of the shares of profit making public sector units at throwaway prices. That this is against the national interest and cannot be allowed to continue was the loud pronouncement made by the national convention of workers.

While the government at the centre has been patting its own back over the so called decline in the inflation rate, the prices of daily necessities for survival of the common people have been skyrocketing, pushing the common people and the workers in particular into dire distress. When universalisation of the public distribution system in order to supply the items of daily necessities to the commoners at subsidised rates is the urgent need of the hour so as to contain the price rise, the government of the day has been refusing to do so. Its intention, clearly, is only to serve the traders, speculators and hoarders� interests in the commodity market, while it has taken steps to further promote and encourage speculation on commodities through the abolition of commodity transaction tax in the current budget. Should such policy be allowed to continue any further? This was the question raised by thousands of voices on the floor of the national convention of workers.  

While millions of workers are being thrown out into the street on the plea of recession, all the labour laws are being desperately violated across the sectors and the central and most of the state governments are shamelessly taking the side of the violator employers with all the repressive force at their command. The central government is talking loud on providing social security cover to the unorganised sector workers comprising 93 per cent of the country�s workforce through the so called Unorganised Workers Social Security Act passed by Parliament, it has in a most unscrupulous manner restricted the benefit of the welfare schemes listed in that Act only to the people below the poverty line. This precludes more than 90 per cent of the unorganised sector workforce out of the purview of benefits to be derived from the Act. The reason is simple. The poverty line has been so defined by the regime that even a large number of beggars cannot be listed in the BPL category, not to speak of the unorganised sector workers. The government refuses to constitute a National Social Welfare Fund or to stipulate a National Floor Level Social Security, as the parliamentary standing committee on labour and the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) have unanimously recommended. And yet claims to be concerned for the aam aadmi! Should the 93 per cent of the country�s workforce, contributing more than 65 per cent of the country�s GDP, deserve such unscrupulous deception by the government. This was the pointed question voiced with contempt by the national convention.   



While addressing the convention, CITU president M K Pandhe explained the five demands raised by the national convention and stated that the entire trade union movement has now Come to a united platform. They have not only raised the problems facing the workers and the people in general but also pointed out in clear terms the workable solution to those problems with an alternative pro-people policy approach. If the government does not see reason, it must be made to see reason, and the entire trade union movement has to take to the street through united countrywide struggle so as to force upon the government a pro-people change in its pro-employers policies. This national convention reflecting total unity of the working class movement in the country must pave the way for such determined struggle, Pandhe asserted.

Among others who addressed the convention were Sanjeeva Reddy (INTUC), Lkahima Reddy (BMS), Gurudas Dasgupta (AITUC), Umraomal Purohit (HMS), Sankar Saha (AIUTUC), Ashok Ghosh (UTUC), Swapan Mukherjee (AICCTU) and S P Tewari (TUCC). The convention was conducted by a presidium comprising Subba Rao (BMS), Rajendra Singh (INTUC), Amarjeet Kaur (AITUC), Thampan Thomas (HMS), Mohammed Amin (CITU), P Thomas (AICCTU), Satyaban (AIUTUC), Abani Roy (UTUC) and V Thomas (TUCC).

The convention adopted a Joint Declaration, called for state level joint conventions based on the Declaration and issued a call for observance of National Protest Day on October 28 through joint mobilisations all over the country.

The Joint Declaration unanimously adopted by the National Convention of Workers has been produced alongside.