People's Democracy

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


No. 22

May 30, 2010




Raw Deal for the Working Class


 M K Pandhe



ON May 22, when the UPA-II government completed one year of its formation, working class had no reason to cheer. It is actually a period when strong resentment was seen among the workers of all affiliations in the country due to the anti-working-class policies pursued by the UPA government. It is, however, a period which has actually gladdened the hearts of the rich in the corporate sector who have received bonanza after bonanza during this short period.


The UPA-II government came to power in May last year when the country was in the grip of deep economic crisis. The so called melt down of the economy gave rise to a strong demand by all captains of the industry to give them liberal bailout packages. The willing government immediately obliged them by offering several stimulus packages amounting to Rupees Four lakh crores whose burden ultimately fell on the common people of the country. The Associated Chamber of Commerce estimated that due to the severe economic crisis, over a crore of workers lost their only source of livelihood. However, the government talking in the name of aam admi, had no time to ameliorate the grievances of those who lost their jobs for no fault of theirs. The peasants and workers, who saw no future for them, had committed suicide whose ranks continue to swell in the country with each passing day. The finance minister had no time to think about their plight. He was more interested to ensure that share market continues its upward swing so that speculators can garner ill-gotten wealth, a part of which would of course go to the coffers of the ruling combine!




The working class and the toiling masses of India were given several promises in the 2004 national common minimum programme, which was supposed to be implemented before May 2009. However, many solemn promises were not even implemented after six years after they were given, for example, common minimum programme promised employment guarantee scheme for rural and urban families including poor middle class families. So far it has been made applicable only to rural poor and only a small segment of the population could get benefit out of it. Corruption in the scheme had made bureaucrats affluent but poor families could not get even the paltry benefit offered by the scheme. The central trade unions demanded that the scheme should be extended to urban families as promised by UPA-1 government. But it became a cry in the wilderness which fell on deaf ears.


The promise to universalise anganwadi scheme remain unimplemented while the condition of the anganwadi workers and helpers continue to remain pitiable. The mahapadav organised by these workers on May 4, reflected the acute discontent prevailing among them, who are demanding barely minimum needs for human existence.


The conditions of the mid-day meal workers and accredited social health activists (ASHA) are still worse. They do not get any allowance worth the name while they are denied wages on the plea that they are honorary workers. Despite repeated promises given by the government to improve their lot, their conditions continue to be pitiable despite the fact that they are doing valuable social work for children and women of the country.


Another promise given by the UPA-1 was that they would not implement hire and fire policies. However, in the last year’s Economic Survey, the government shamelessly advocated hire and fire policy in our industrial undertakings. Another promise given to the workers that they would consult the trade unions on the issues related to labour policy also remained only on paper.



The UPA government has shown scant regard to the recommendations formed by its own committees as well as parliamentary forum. This was clearly seen from the scant regard it has shown to the report of Dr Arjun Sen Gupta committee as well as report of the standing committee of parliament on labour. Both the committees recommended drastic changes in the bill on unorganised sector workers. But all the recommendations were curtly ignored by the UPA government. All the trade unions, including the union supporting the UPA government, have totally rejected the provisions of the bill. The views of the trade unions were non-chalantly ignored by the government since it did not want to antagonise the employers.


The government refused to remove the ceilings in the payment of bonus act as demanded by the trade unions, since employers organisations do not want any change in the law. It has openly advocated, contract labour (regulations and abolition act) to be more flexible so that the employers can employ more and more contract labours. The central government itself has outsourced several of its functions to unscrupulous contractors who recklessly violate all the labour laws of the country.





A majority of the tripartite committees under the ministry of labour and employment did not meet during 2009-10 and the decisions taken in this meeting remained unimplemented. Even the decision taken in the Indian Labour Conference held in 2009 had by and large been not implemented in their true spirit.


The last year’s Economic Survey vociferously advocated in increasing the hours of work from existing 48 hours per week to 60 hours per week without payment of any additional wages. Despite opposition by the entire trade union movement to disinvest shares of profit making public sector undertakings, the UPA-II govternment in the latest budget strongly advocated disinvesting shares of over Rs 25000 crore to meet the budgetary deficit.


Several multinational companies, who are increasingly operating in India, do not respect the Indian labour laws. The union labour ministry connives at their violation of labour laws on the plea of attracting more foreign investments. Most of the employees in those undertakings are working under contractors and getting extremely low wages. The workers are compelled to work more hours  and the workers are dismissed arbitrarily for mere formation of a union or even submission of charter of demands. The workers’ agitations in MNCs are brutally suppressed with the help of police. Even to raise a dispute with the labour ministry has become a Herculean task for the trade unions. The UPA-II government is becoming a silent spectator to the new slave like conditions being imposed by the multinational companies on the working class of India.


Mockery of Social

Security Schemes


The UPA-II government during the last one year has made a mockery of the very concept of social security. The employees pension scheme has ceased to be a social security scheme. There has been no upward revision of the quantum of pension promised by the government when the pension scheme was introduced. The rate of interest on the provident fund deposit has been brought down from 12 per cent to 8.5 per cent which has brought down the pension amount of the workers. Some of the workers are getting ridiculously low amount of pension which at times becomes less than Rs 100 per month. The unilateral decision of the government to invest a part of the pension fund in share market has made pension fund a source of speculative gains for stock market manipulators.


Now the union labour ministry has prepared a paper indicating that the present pension scheme could be viable only if the contributions to the pension fund is increased or pension quantum is reduced. It was impossible for the trade unions to accept such ridiculous proposal. But the UPA government uses its majority in the board of trustees to implement anti worker proposals.


The government is also proposing to appoint private pension fund managers and giving up the responsibilities as a state to provide social security to the employers during their old age after retirement.


In case of central and state government employees, the scheme has become contributory for all those employees who joined the service after 2004. The UPA-II government has already converted the pension scheme from defined benefit scheme to a defined contribution scheme. Though the bill on pension has not yet been passed in parliament due to strong opposition of Left parties, the government already appointed pension fund regulators and pension fund operators for the revised pension scheme. The plight of pensioners is becoming worse day by day since the paltry pension they get do not provide adequately for a retired life. The pensioners associations are being formed and local struggles are emerging all over India.


The policies of globalisation are being implemented at the cost of watering down or wiping out the social security measures introduced by the government since independence. The government is practically giving up the very concept of the welfare state. The tall talk of economic growth with social justice is only a devise to hoodwink the common people of the country. During the UPA I and II regimes, the economic inequality has increased abnormally which is clearly visible from the Human Development Report 2009 that out of 182 countries, India ranks 134. Five years ago India’s ranking was 123 which shows how India is lagging far behind in Human Development though it is claiming second largest GDP growing economy.




The retrograde policies perused by the UPA government has brought together on common platform the entire trade union movement in the country on five major issues of the working class viz. steep rise in prices of essential commodities, growing unemployment in all sectors of economy in the country, non-implementation of the labour laws, disinvestment of profit making public sector under takings and for creating a special fund to give social security benefits to the unorganised sector. These demands were accepted by all trade unions including INTUC and BMS in a national convention held in New Delhi on September 14, 2009. These trade unions observed national protest day on  October 28, 2009 to oppose the anti-working class policy of the UPA government. A massive dharna was organised on December 14, 2009 before parliament in support of the demands while on March 5, 2010 jail bharo and picketing was organised all over India in which more than a million of workers enthusiastically participated.


This remarkable unity by the entire trade union movement will be further cemented in a national convention on July 15, 2010 which will fix a date for an all India strike in September next. These developments clearly reflect the growing urge among the rank and file workers for unity, for resistance to the anti-working class policies of the government. The deteriorating living and working conditions o the workers are forcing the workers to come together to protect the gains they have achieved since independence.


The dogged nature of the economic policy of globalisation pursued by the UPA government is now extremely clear before the working class. They have seen from their practical experience that the policies of deregulation and market economy have only fattened the corporate sector and have brought the miseries on the working class and common people of the country.


The favoritism openly shown by the ministers of the government to the corporate houses has highlighted several scams which are draining  huge money from the public sector despite their exposure inside and outside parliament, the UPA government is unable to take any stringent action against the perpetrators of the scam since it would hit the very stability of the government.


It is only through powerful mass struggles of the working class and the toiling masses of India that the policies can be reversed. It is only by reversal of the bankrupt policy that the livelihood of the working class and common people can witness much needy improvement. The whole country is moving towards massive class battles against the retrograde policies of the government.