People's Democracy

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


No. 09

February 28, 2010

Karnataka: CITU Holds 11th State Conference


THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) enthusiastically organised its 11th Karnataka state conference at Mandya, the sugar city of Karnataka, on February 12 to 14, 2010. After the state CITU president B Madhava hoisted the red flag of the organisation, red shirt volunteers took out an attractive march in the city. Through a resolution moved by state CITU vice president K Shankar, the conference paid deep felt condolences to Comrade Jyoti Basu, a founder leader and veteran of the working class movement in India, and also to Comrades E Balanandan, Chittabrata Majumdar and other departed leaders.

The CITUís national president Dr M K Pandhe inaugurated the conference, highlighting the recent developments in the world and how the peopleís movements and working class struggles are spreading and challenging the imperialist dominance; this is taking place even in Latin America which served for long as the backyard of US imperialism. Pandhe said the policies of globalisation have failed even in the countries which sought to push them through in the whole world, and the economic meltdown there has made the lives of the working people miserable. But our ruling classes are seeking to impose upon us the same policies which have ignominiously failed everywhere. Dr Manmohan Singh called the US the best friend, while the people of the world are rejecting the US directed policies. While this governmentís policies are raising the prices of essential commodities, the government is more concerned with helping the capitalist class with tax concessions and rescue packages, allowing the price rise to continue unabated on the other hand. Pandhe congratulated the working class in Karnataka for conducting many struggles, urging it to strengthen its unity and fighting spirit in the coming days and to build a strong united movement of all the working people.

On the first day of the conference, which was attended by 370 delegates and observers including more than 100 women, state CITU general secretary V J K Nair presented his report, explaining the developments at the national and international levels and the tasks before the Karnataka workers and CITU.

In their discussion, in their turn, the delegates came with their rich and inspiring experience of facing the onslaught of the government and their police during the recently conducted long drawn struggle on eight major demands. Women workers were in the forefront of struggle and their bold and brave participation in facing the police in the streets of various towns and cities, were noteworthy. It was noted that the brutal attacks by the police did not shake the confidence of women and men workers. The demands included common minimum wage, abolition of contract labour, ration cards and ration for all, house sites for all workers, regularisation of all workers employed by government in different schemes such as the Anganwadi, mid-day meal, Aasha and Gram Panchayat services, and a comprehensive law for unorganised workers with condition of services. The delegates shared their experience of struggle continuously conducted from November 7, 2008 up to the holding of the state conference. These included the two big state level rallies and a district level pitched battle on September 15, 2009, confronting the police repression. The struggle has yielded partial results. The district and local level officials now feel compelled to call meetings with the CITU leaders and address the issues raised within their jurisdiction. The BJPís state government too had to call a meeting with the CITU leaders, and the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues held a discussion with the latter. Beedi workersí struggle has achieved the implementation of minimum wages with arrears. Other struggles involved the hamali workers, plantation workers, public sector workers, and the auto rickshaw drivers who waged a decisive struggle in Bangalore and all over the state. Narration f the formation of a union in the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and the recent gains for the CITU in some large industries added enthusiasm to the discussion at the conference. Delegates also emphasised on the expansion of the organisation to the grassroots level and pinpointed the wrong practices at various levels. Successful organisation of the 12th all-India conference of the CITU at Bangalore after the last state conference created new opportunities for streamlining the organisation and expanding the activities.

The discussion also emphasised on the threat of communal forces supported by the government and called for concerted efforts to combat the communal ideology and disturbances.

The conference honoured senior comrades who upheld the red flag since the CITUís formation and earlier. They were Comrades Dastagiri, Rajamma, Kodandaram, Abraham Karkada, T S Nayak, B D Ramaiah and Viswanath. Comrades Savaridas, R G Sthalekar and Sukumarna Pillai were honoured in absentia. Dr M K Pandhe, V J K Nair and B Madhava honoured these senior comrades with shawls and garlands. The conference paid warm respects to these senior comrades for their contribution to the development of working class movement in Karnataka.

The conference decided to intensify the struggles and strengthen the organisation in the days to come. It decided to increase the CITU membership in the state from 1,60,000 to 3,00,000 by the next conference, strengthen the state centre of the CITU and of the state level unions category-wise, conduct an ideological campaign and arrange for the cadresí education. Accordingly, a state level school will be conducted in June or July 2010. The conference also decided to intensify the ongoing struggle for food security and for control on the prices of essential commodities.

The conference elected a new state committee of 87 members, of which 25 are women. This committee later elected a new team of leadership with 33 office bearers; of these seven are women. V J K Nair and S Prasannakumar will lead the team as president and general secretary, respectively. P K Parameswar is the treasurer. The conference also elected 78 delegates from Karnataka to attend the 13th all-India conference of the CITU at Chandigarh.

On the last day of the conference, an attractive and colourful procession moved through the city of Mandya. The procession later culminated in a public meeting which CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brunda Karat, CITU national president Dr M K Pandhe, new state president V J K Nair, state secretary Varalaxmi, state kisan leader and panchayat workersí leader Maruthi Manpade and CITU district secretary G Ramakrishna addressed. Krishegouda and K N Umesh translated into Karnataka the national leadersí speeches. Anganwadi workers leader and CITU district president Manjularaj welcomed the gathering and agricultural workers leader Puttamadhu proposed the vote of thanks on behalf of the reception committee.

Though the CITU does not have strong presence in the city, the comrades of the district organised the conference in a successful manner. The BJP government of the state victimised Dr Parameswar, a government doctor in the district, for working as president of the reception committee. But, without any hesitation, he played his leading role in spite of the punitive action. Woman kisan Leader Smt Sunanda Jayaram acted as the chairperson of the reception committee which worked day and night for making the conference a grand success.