People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 03

January 17, 2010

TAMILNADU CITU CONFERENCE

“Step Up Mass Struggles, Defend TU Rights!”

A K Padmanabhan

THE eleventh Tamilnadu state conference of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) concluded on January 6 with a massive procession and public meeting in Cuddalore town. The conference was inaugurated on January 4 by CITU president M K Pandhe.

Days ahead of the conference, Cuddalore town wore a festive look with red flags, huge banners and various types of decorations.

 

VIGOROUS

PREPARATIONS

Campaigns in connection with the conference began with the “Flag Day” observations on December 15, the death anniversary of Comrade P Ramamurthi, founder general secretary of the CITU. Eleven flags, denoting the 11th conference, were hoisted in many places on the day. CITU district committees and unions published tens of thousands of posters and handbills on the occasion.  

In fact, preparations for the conference had begun in as early as September 2009 with the holding of the CITU’s Cuddalore district conference. By the first week of December 2009, all the 34 district conferences were held, with almost all of them concluding with massive rallies.

The campaign was set in motion with the commencement of a “CITU Flag Jatha” from Tirupur, the venue of the previous conference. The flag to be hoisted at the conference was handed over to a team of CITU leaders, led by S K Thiagarajan, its state vice president.

A jatha with a jyoti started from the Comrade J Hemachandran memorial in Kanyakumari district. This former president of the state CITU passed away two years ago.

Another jatha with a jyoti commenced from the Comrade C Govindarajan memorial at Nellikuppam. He was one of the CITU’s founders in the state.

All the three jathas entered “Comrades E Balanandan – Chithabrata Majumdar Nagar” to an enthusiastic welcome by the delegates and others present at the inaugural session. The flag and the jyotis were received by K Vaithianathan, P V Ramadoss and T A Latha – office bearers of the state CITU.

R Umanath, the first general secretary of state CITU, hoisted the CITU flag while vice president S Pancharathnam lit the jyoti at the Martyrs’ Column. Led by M K Pandhe, R Umanath and other office bearers, the delegates paid floral homage.

 

PROUD

RECORD

Welcoming the delegates, reception committee chairman Moosa recalled the history of the trade union movement in the district, dating back to 1922, with the formation of a union in EID Parry sugar factory. Neyveli Lignite Corporation Union was formed in 1953; it has a proud history of militant strikes and other struggles.

A K Padmanabhan, in his presidential address, noted the international and national background in which massive struggles were conducted in the state during the last three years.

R Umanath in his address referred to the long history of militant struggles in Tamilnadu and to the martyrs who laid down their lives for the cause of the working class. He urged upon the present generation to move ahead in their footprints to attain our goal.

In his inaugural address, M K Pandhe dealt at length with the international crisis of the capitalist system and the way the crisis-ridden establishments are being propped up by the so called stimulus packages. He reminded the delegates of the efforts of US imperialism to bring the entire world under its hegemony and the developing resistance against the US move. He exhorted the conference to make the call of the central trade unions for a countrywide ‘Jail Bharo’ movement on March 5 on basic policy issues. Pandhe also commended the efforts of the state CITU for an increase in its membership, which has grown by 25 per cent to reach five lakhs. Of these, 23 per cent are women.

State CITU general secretary A Soundararajan submitted the report, elaborating the activities and struggles since the last conference. There have been militant strikes and struggles on the question of trade union rights. In the state more than 1000 workers have been thrown out of job for forming trade unions. CITU unions have taken up the issues of eight hours work, implementation of labour laws, minimum wages and various issues facing the unorganised sector workers, including social security and functioning of labour welfare boards. There have been struggles organised by the CITU as also joint movements with other unions. CITU unions participated in various countrywide movements and also sectional struggles. Recently, CITU unions, as part of the Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front, have taken up issues of social oppression and injustice. The CITU has taken up various projects including erecting a Martyrs’ Memorial at Kizha Venmani, where 44 dalits were burnt alive by the goons of the landlords. The organisational functioning has also improved in districts and at the state centre, though in many areas more attention has to be paid and improvements made.

P M Kumar, treasurer, submitted the accounts.

As many as 79 delegates, including 19 women, participated in the discussion lasting for eight hours. Their points enabled further strengthening of the report and also helped the delegates to improve their understanding of the situation all over the state.

Tapan Sen (MP and national secretary of the CITU), K Balakrishnan (president, Tamilnadu Kisan Sabha), V J K Nair (general secretary, Karnataka state CITU) and S S Thiagarajan (general secretary, Tamilnadu state AITUC) greeted the conference. While appreciating the growth of CITU and its activities in the state, Tapan Sen asked the delegates to see that the CITU’s strength is increased in the organised sector, both public and private.

Summing up the discussion, A Soundararajan thanked various unions for extending solidarity actions and financial assistance to expand the CITU activities. He accepted various suggestions to enrich the report as well as future functioning, including one about the education of cadres and mass of workers. He also asked for continuing these efforts for strengthening the CITU in the state.

In line with the discussions and expectations of the delegates, the conference approved a target of 12 lakhs of membership to be achieved by the time of the next conference.

 

ON TO MORE

STRUGGLES

The conference decided to hold massive demonstrations all over the state on the question of trade union rights, eight hours work, minimum wages, implementation of labour laws and various demands of unorganised sector workers, and to stage a massive Jail Bharo movement on March 5. Functions will be organised all over the state from February 11 to 18 to commemorate the 150th birthday of M Singaravelu, one of the pioneers of trade union movement in the country.

The conference unanimously elected a new team of  office bearers and the state executive committee. A K Padmanabhan, A Sounderrajan, P M Kumar were re-elected as the president, general secretary and treasurer respectively. R Singaravelu, K Palanivelu and V Kumar continue as assistant general secretaries. There are 19 women in the state committee.  

Pandhe, in his concluding address, congratulated the delegates for the successful conduct of the conference.

The people of Cuddalore were wonder-struck with the huge rally joined by nearly 50,000 workers, of which women formed a substantial section. The rallyists had come from all over the state. The venue of mass rally was named after Comrade C Govindarajan. Presided over by A K Padmanabhan, the meeting was addressed by M K Pandhe, Tapan Sen, T K Rengarajan, A Sounderrajan and Malathy Chittibabu. G Sukumaran welcomed the participants. The rally concluded with a cultural programme.