(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 07, 2010
Significance of All
M K Pandhe
The continuously deteriorating
situation of the working
class in the country brought the workers of all affiliations together.
situation has gone from bad to worse due to the steep rise in prices of
essential commodities all over
Growing unemployment in the country has added to the gravity of the situation. In this era of globalisation, downsizing has become the catchword for the entire capitalist class. Ban on recruitment in government jobs, refusal to fill the vacant posts, closure of several industrial units due to policies of import liberalisation and cut in import duties, reckless use of voluntary retirement schemes to cut manpower down in most of the industrial undertakings have created a huge army of unemployed in the country. Steps for ‘modernisation’ have also rendered a large number of workers jobless. Failure of the central government to strengthen the employment oriented projects has also contributed to the process. The UPA and the NDA governments allowed the big business houses to enter the areas reserved for the small-scale sector, leading to destruction of several small-scale and traditional industries.
As a result of the global recession, export orders considerably declined, causing the loss of jobs for about 30 lakh workers in diamond cutting, jewellery, textile garment, leather and metal trade units in different parts of the country. The UPA government gave liberal concessions, of over one lakh crore of rupees, to the corporate houses which experienced a reduction in profits. The workers who became victims of the crisis for no fault of theirs, however, did not get any relief from the government. Several unemployed workers, like their peasant brethren in rural areas, have committed suicides as they could not maintain their families.
The National Rural Employment
Guarantee Scheme (NREGS)
has indeed given some relief to the rural poor, but the scheme was not
to the urban areas, with the result that the growing economic crisis
unemployment among the unorganised sector workers. The commitment given
first UPA government that the NREGS would be implemented in urban areas
and also for the poor middle class families, remains unimplemented.
corruption gripping this scheme has enabled the bureaucrats to reap
for themselves without creating many jobs while denying due income to
unemployed. The united demand raised by the trade unions in the last
labour conference that the government of
Collapse of labour legislation
The statutorily fixed minimum wages remained by and large unimplemented due to official connivance. This is a gross criminal offence. In several states the statutory provision of wage revision remains unimplemented due to pressure from the employers. Trade unions’ complaints in this regard fall on the deaf ears.
Thousands of industrial units have been illegally closed down without obtaining permission from the government as provided by the Industrial Disputes Act 1947. In a similar manner, employers often resort to declaration of layoff without payment of statutory wages to the workers, without any action from the government side to force the former to comply with the provisions of the law. Arbitrary retrenchment of workers without any payment of statutory retrenchment compensation, non-payment of maternity benefit to the women workers, non-provision of crèche despite legal requirement, illegal use of child labour and bonded labour without any action from the government --- all these have become the order of the day.
Non-implementation of the labour laws in export processing zones and special economic zones has given a green signal to the corporate houses to invest more in the SEZs and get away with the violations of the labour laws. Development commissioners have got arbitrary powers to decide all the industrial relations cases. The Indian government is bluntly ignoring the ILO recommendation that development commissioners must not be given powers to decide the industrial relations issues.
The provision of the Contract
Labour Regulation And
Abolition Act that no contract labour must be engaged in jobs of
perennial nature is being systematically violated in industrial
Even the government of
Multinational companies, with
huge investments in industrial
undertakings, are refusing to honour the labour laws. Ambassadors of
capitalist countries have openly made statements on our soil that
laws have been preventing foreign capital flows into
The “abolition of inspector raj” has made the employers confident that there would be nobody to check the labour law violations. The step to exempt smaller employers from submitting the returns under the labour laws has further added to the plethora of violations in the country.
The government of
With an eye on the working class
votes, the government
While the UPA government’s
policy has been to utterly
neglect the problems of the unorganised labour, it gave fabulous
the business houses. It has created in
The UPA government has decided to disinvest the shares of profit making public sector units to meet its budgetary deficit. It has decided to raise Rs 75000 crore in one year alone, by selling the public sector shares in the stock market. Of late the performance of most of the public sector undertakings have improved considerably and the government is receiving handsome dividends. In these circumstances, the decision is only a step to hand the public assets over to the private tycoons at throwaway prices.
Thus the public sector
undertakings, which played a
vital role in making our economy self-reliant, are being privatised at
dictate of the World Bank and IMF. The government has made in clear
would sell 49 per cent of the shares of all profit making public sector
the private sector. Then, it will have to further disinvest only one
per cent to
convert them into private units. In
These and many other issues are
agitating the workers
of all affiliations. The ground reality is creating a powerful urge for
class unity for common action, starting a process of coming together of
trade union movements despite ideological differences. There was thus
successful convention in
1) Halt to the rise in prices of all essential commodities.
2) Halt to the growing unemployment and launch of a nationwide programme of job creation.
3) Ensuring full implementation of all the labour laws.
4) Creation of a special fund by taxing the corporate sector and the rural landed gentry, for providing social security benefits to the unorganised workers.
5) Stop to disinvestment of profit making public sector undertakings.
A delegation of the trade unions met the prime minister on the same day to place this demands charter. As per the convention’s decision, workers observed a nationwide Protest Day on October 18, to press these demands. The day’s observance highlighted the growing working class desire to strengthen their unity.
On December 16, there was a big
dharna before the
parliament to press the government of
The struggle is gradually going to a higher pitch. On March 5 coming, trade unions will stage a court arrest programme and express their opposition to the UPA government’s policies.
After this action programme, a trade unions committee will review the situation and chalk out further programmes of action.
One may note here that since the advent of globalisation, several trade unions sought to develop movements and there took place 12 nationwide strikes. But several organisations did not join these actions, characterising them as politically motivated. Now we have, however, all-in unity of the working class, bringing together all the trade unions in action programmes. This has enhanced the enthusiasm among the workers of all affiliations and given them confidence about resisting the government’s anti-working class policies. Significantly, this unity at the top of the movement has emerged because of the pressure from below. There is thus the potential for developing a united movement and achieving more successes in protecting the workers’ interests.
While the trade unions are always prepared for a dialogue with the government on the pressing working class issues, they do realise the need for action programmes. They are therefore determined to strengthen in the forthcoming period their all-in unity, which would pave the way for an organisational consolidation of the trade union movement in the country.