People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 10

March 07, 2010

Issues before the 13th CITU Conference

 

                                                                                  M K Pandhe

 

A TOTAL of 2,500 delegates are coming from all over India to attend the 13th conference of the CITU, to be held in Chandigarh from March 17 to 21. The conference will review the national and international situation which is affecting the vital interest of the working class and toiling people of India, and chalk out the course of action to be taken in the next three years in defence of the working class interests.

 

A GAIN OF

STRUGGLES

As a result of sustained struggles conducted by CITU unions in all corners of the country, the CITU membership has increased from 40 lakhs to over 50 lakhs. Thus the CITU unions have more than fulfilled the call given by the 12th conference, at the initiative of the then general secretary Chittabrata Majumdar. The membership would have gone still higher but for the failure of several unions to submit the record and affiliation fee in time. The result is that their membership could not be included for the purpose of calculating their delegate quotas to the CITU conference.

The 12th conference of the CITU was held when the Left parties were supporting the government of India from outside. They could then exert some influence on the policies of the UPA government and prevent to an extent the government of India from taking anti-people measures. Despite this support from the Left parties, the trade union movement under the leadership of the Sponsoring Committee organised several struggles against the anti-working class policies of the UPA government.

In the last parliamentary elections, the UPA government got a majority on its own and could form a government on its own. The weakening of the Left parties in the polls created an unfavourable political situation for the working class since the UPA government is now seeking to implement the neo-liberal policies of globalisation more forcefully. The trade union movement has to strengthen its resistance to the pro-capitalist policies of the UPA government in order to protect the interests of the working class and the toiling people.

 

POWERFUL UNITED

STRUGGLES

The struggle of the unorganised workers was an important development during the last three years, which culminated in a one day all India strike on August 8, 2007. Nearly four crore workers participated in it, showing acute discontent prevailing among them. The 13th conference will have to lay special emphasis on the demands of the unorganised workers so that their struggles become more widespread and pronounced.

The CITU has also made advances in the working women’s movement. The struggles of anganwadi, mid-day meal and ASHA workers are on the rise and some concessions could be obtained through these struggles. The CITU membership among working women has now increased to about 25 per cent, and more and more women are participating in the leading policy making bodies of the CITU. The CITU conference will have to consider how to strengthen this trend so that women may play their due role in the trade union movement.

The one day national general strike at the call of the Sponsoring Committee in 2008 was a milestone in the united movement of the working class of our country. The participation of the workers was the largest ever in the country. Even the workers belonging to the INTUC and BMS participated in the action, indicating the growing desire of the working class for united struggles.

The workers’ struggles in the coal, steel, construction, jute, water transport and other industries have indicated a rising curve of working class struggles all over India.

The deteriorating working and living conditions of the working class has brought together the entire trade union movement in the country, irrespective of their ideological differences. The INTUC and BMS, which were keeping away from the united movement of the working class, and to join the united working class movement due to the new situation created in the country.

The rising prices of essential commodities, collapse of public distribution system and restricting the ration at cheap prices only to the persons who come under the fictitious category of persons below the poverty line have caused strong resentment among large sections of the working class.

Growing unemployment in the country has further aggravated due to the global economic crisis.  Thought the government gave over Rs four lakh crore as bailout package for the big business houses, the workers who lost their jobs due to the crisis did not get any relief. The Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is seething with corruption and mismanagement, and people failed to get full benefits of the scheme. Though job was promised for 100 days for every worker, workers hardly got work for 52 days; for the rest of the days they did not get any unemployment allowance that was promised. This added to the gravity of the situation.

 

COLLAPSE OF

LABOUR LAWS

The collapse of labour laws has been universal and employers openly violated the laws with impunity. Minimum wages are not being paid wherever the trade union movement is weak; 12 hours work is being extracted from workers without paying overtime wages. A large number of units stand closed down without any permission from the government. Even the formation of a union invites brutal repression from the musclemen hired by the corporate houses. Multinational companies are blatantly violating all the labour laws of the land but the UPA government goes on ignoring their violation on the plea that it would reduce foreign investment in the country. In the special economic zones (SEZs), with the connivance of the central government, labour laws are not being implemented.

Regarding the unorganised workers, the bill passed by the government did not grant them any monetary benefit. The central trade unions demanded creation of a special fund by taxing the rich and giving social security benefits to the unorganised workers. In the recent budget the government provided only Rs 1000 crore which will not touch the fringe of the unorganised workers’ problems. According to Dr Arjun Sengutpa committee report, about 30 to 40 thousand crore of rupees would be required to give even elementary social security to the workers.

Trade unions have also opposed the disinvestment drive of the UPA government. This year it has decided to raise Rs 25,000 crore by disinvesting public sector shares; ultimately 49 per cent of the shares in the public sector units would be sold in the share market.

Trade unions observed a National Protest Day on October 28, 2009 and staged a dharna before parliament on December 16, 2009. They also staged a Satyagraha and Jail Bharo on March 5 and further programmes of action will be decided later.

The CITU conference has to find out ways of strengthening the united movement of the working class. This unity should go down to the grassroots level so that it gets stabilised. Local level actions must be strengthened so that the united movement may bring sufficient pressure on the government of India. The mass mobilisation in joint movements has to be strengthened many times more, so that its capacity to pressurise the government would be intensified.

The CITU has invited all the central trade unions and major industry-wide federations to participate in the CITU conference. Thus the conference would be a forum to strengthen the nationwide unity of the entire working class so that the workers’ class struggle is enhanced to a higher level. This underlines the significance of the Chandigarh conference.

 

WORKER-PEASANT

ALLIANCE

The worker-peasant alliance is an important aspect of the struggle against capitalist exploitation.  To give concrete shape to this alliance, the CITU, AIKS and AIAWU organised a joint convention in March 2007, which emphasised the need for joint struggles by the three organisations on common issues faced by workers, agricultural workers and peasants in India.  A call for observation of a day was observed to popularise the need for countrywide joint struggle. However, the matter could not be pursued further though some solidarity actions were planned in different parts of the country.

The conference will consider the ways to strengthen the worker-peasant alliance in joint struggles so that more powerful resistance to capitalist policies may be organised all over the country. The unity achieved in the joint federation of fishery workers by the CITU and AIKS is a correct step in that direction. The CITU conference will take initiative in strengthening this alliance so that a strategic alliance can be built at the national level. This will have an implication in the struggle for establishment of socialism.

 

DISCUSSION

IN COMMISSIONS

One day of the conference will be devoted to the organisation of six commissions when the delegates will attend a commission of their choice to participate in the discussion. According to the experience in earlier conferences, 500 to 600 delegates participate in the discussion in these commissions. The conclusions of these commissions are reported in the plenary session for adoption.

This time the six commissions finalised by the CITU secretariat are as follows:

1) Revolutionary ideology of the working class and the role of trade unions.

2) Unity of the working class and our approach.

3) The news media and the working class.

4) On safety, health and environment.

5) Challenges in organising the unorganised workers.

6) Organising the working women: our objectives.

Each commission will have a chairman to conduct and a reporter to note down the deliberations.

The organisation of commissions has become an instrument of evolving common understanding in the CITU through the participation of the rank and file members. For each commission a draft note has been prepared for submission and will be made available to the delegates in their own languages. The delegates narrate their experiences in the struggles they have conducted. Their experiences are thus pooled together to evolve a policy of the CITU for implementation.

 

PREPARATIONS

ON IN PUNJAB

One can witness a remarkable enthusiasm among the CITU cadres all over Punjab, and the fund collection drive is going on with great zeal. Several comrades who were inactive due to lack of proper functioning, have become active, and are mobilising workers in the campaign to prepare for the success of the 13th CITU conference. So far the fund collection drive has yielded over Rs 40 lakh and unions are confident about fulfilling the target of Rs one crore as decided by the reception committee.

The CITU’s Punjab state committee president Vijay Mishra, general secretary Raghunath Singh and vice president Charan Singh Virdi are touring all over the state to monitor the preparations campaign for the CITU conference. Former vice chancellor of Punjab University, Dr Joginder Singh Puar, is the chairman of the reception committee. Under him, the latter is actively working for the success of the conference.

One special feature of the campaign is the growth of CITU membership in the state. All the districts have been actively participating in the campaign. Massive rallies of workers are being held all over the state to explain the issues before the CITU conference. Over one lakh leaflets in Punjabi language have already been distributed among the workers to explain the significance of the CITU conference.

The fraternal mass organisations, viz the Kisan Sabha, Agricultural Workers Union, AIDWA, SFI and DYFI, have been actively campaigning for the success of the CITU conference. The Kisan Sabha has already collected over 20 quintals of basmati rice as a solidarity contribution for the conference.

A total of 500 male volunteers and 100 female volunteers have been enrolled by the reception committee to conduct the deliberations of the conference.

Along with the CITU conference, several seminars will be organised in universities in which foreign delegates will also participate and explain the struggles they have been organising against globalisation and for trade union rights. Programmes of visits of foreign delegates to some industrial centres are also being planned in Punjab and the adjoining states.

The preparations for the conference have attracted the attention of media in the state. The CITU campaign is getting adequate publicity both in print and electronic media.

The reception committee has decided to name the venue of the conference as Jyoti Basu Nagar with a view to paying homage to the revered memory of the departed CITU vice president who remained in the post for the entire period of 40 years since the foundation of the CITU. To mark the memory of our departed general secretary, the hall of the conference will be named after Comrade Chittabrata Majumdar while another complex will be named in the memory of former CITU president Comrade E Balanandan.

The preparations for the mass rally on March 21 are going on in full swing and a largest ever gathering of the working class is being planned to culminate the CITU conference. A colourful procession is being planned with uniformed volunteers in the front. It is expected that a large number of women will participate in the procession. The Haryana state committee of CITU is also planning to mobilise workers to participate in the procession and the mass meeting.

The 13th conference of the CITU at Chandigarh will be a landmark in the history of the CITU. The glorious traditions of anti-imperialist struggle in Punjab are being highlighted in the CITU’s propaganda campaign and pledge is being taken in the meetings to carry forward the traditions under the banner of the CITU in strengthening of class struggle of the toiling masses against the capitalist system.