People's Democracy

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


No. 21

May 23, 2010



Employees Stage March to Parliament


P R Krishnan


THE three day 20th all-India conference of Peerless Employees, which opened in Delhi from April 18, successfully ended on April 20, with a dharna in the capital and a March to Parliament on the same day. These actions were to demand the takeover of the Peerless company by the government of India. This was a unique programme of the employees in as much as it was joined also by family members of the staff in service. The employees and many of their family members had come to Delhi from different pas of India for this joint morcha to the parliament. It needs to be mentioned that quite a number of them were from the adjoining and their joint procession to parliament is rare in the trade union history. The Peerless employees can therefore justifiably feel proud for this attempt.


The employees and their family members, a large number of them women and children, first assembled at Janpath with flags and banners in their hands. Here they staged a squatting demonstration for two hours --- from 10.30 am onwards. Basudeb Acharya, MP and leader of the CPI(M) group in Lok Sabha, addressed the agitating employees. In his speech Acharya said he would raise this issue in parliament. The agitating employees and their family members thereafter began their March to Parliament, demanding government takeover of the Peerless company. But a big posse of steel-helmet wearing police force stopped the marching procession. The demonstrating protesters were then greeted by All India Peerless Employees Union (AIPEU) president Sukomal Sen, AIPEU working president Nitya Gopal Dutta, its general secretary Gautam Chatterjee, its vice presidents Anudeb Ghosh and A V Ramana Rao, Delhi state CITU president Sudhir Kumar, Maharashtra state CITU secretary P R Krishnan.


The venue for the 20th all-India conference of the AIPEU this time was the Mukta Dhara Auditorium in the Bhai Veersingh Marg in Gole Market, New Delhi, and the hall was named as “Comrade Jyoti Basu Nagar.” The reception committee had made the food and accommodation arrangements for the delegates in Chug Memorial Hall near the conference venue. The conference proceedings started with flag hoisting by AIPEU president Sukomal Sen on April 18. This was followed by floral tributes to the memory of martyrs. Reception committee chairman Sudhir Kumar then presented the welcome address, before Sukomal Sen inaugurated the conference. The inaugural session was attended by the delegates as well as by their family members. The elected number of delegates who participated in the conference was 250. They were from different branches and units of the Peerless establishment spread over different parts of the country. A good number of the participants were women delegates.


The main document for discussion in the delegates session of the conference was the general secretary’s report presented by Anudeb Ghosh. Hariprasad Patra, the treasurer, placed the statements of accounts. The discussion which then followed witnessed 55 delegates presenting their views. The proceedings of the conference were conducted by a presidium comprising Nitya Gopal Datta, Shyamal Chakravarty and P R Krishnan. The other two committees which the delegates elected for the conduct of the conference were the steering committee and credentials committee. The steering committee comprised Kamal Bhatacharjee, A V Ramana Rao and C D John while the credentials committee consisted of K B Benni, Sukumar Karkera and Nagalakshmi.


The conference took place in a very critical period in the history of this organisation. Naturally, therefore, the organisers had taken special care to invite some of the top ranking leaders from the trade union movement to address the conference. Among them were CITU general secretary Tapan Sen, MP. In his speech, Sen referred to the World Bank, IMF and WTO dictated globalisation policies and said that its main advocates --- the US and the European Union --- are worst hit now. This has resulted in big financial crises and joblessness in the imperialist countries. In India, the working class has been fighting against the dangers of neo-imperialist policies by resorting to industries strikes, state bandhs and all-India strikess. There had been 13 all-India strike actions in protest against this policy so far, and the 14th was then slated to take place on April 27. Sen noted that Peerless employees had been in the forefront of these struggles.


Others who came to greet the delegates session were CITU vice president Shyamal Chakravarty, MP, Reserve Bank Employees Union general secretary Samir Ghosh, All India Insurance Employees Union joint secretary A K Bhatnagar, All India Insurance Employees Pensioners Association president Saitya and FMRAI Delhi unit general secretary M K Mitra. They all extended full support to the Peerless employees in their agitation for realisation of their charter of demands as well as for takeover of the Peerless company by the government of India. Alternatively, the government should take immediate steps to merge this company with another financial establishment under government control. In that regard, the conference passed a separate resolution, moved by Gautama Chaterjee and seconded by K B Benni, calling upon the government to initiate appropriate steps. The conference passed three other resolutions as well --- on Trinamul-Maoist attacks in West Bengal, on price rise, and on unemployment.


In its concluding session, the conference elected a Central Committee with Sukomal Sen as president, Nitya Gopal Datta as working president and Gautam Chatterjee as new general secretary.