People's Democracy

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


No. 30

July 25, 2010



Make Success All India General Strike on Sept 7


K Hemalata


THE working committee of CITU, which concluded on July 17, 2010, gave a clarion call to the working class to bring all economic activity in the country to a grinding halt by observing total strike on September 7, 2010, as per the decision of the national convention of workers. It has unanimously adopted a resolution, introduced by MK Pandhe, vice president of CITU fully endorsing the strike decision. Moving the resolution, Pandhe explained that for the first time in the history of independent India, INTUC gave a call for a nation wide general strike along with the other central trade unions on common demands. He also outlined the string of campaigns and struggles launched jointly by all the major central trade unions including INTUC and BMS that was culminating in this strike. Though the BMS expressed its inability to join the strike on September 7, it had been part of the campaign all along and supported the decision for a joint all India strike on the five point charter of demands. The working committee of CITU called upon all its state committees and industrial federations to carry this historical unity of the trade union movement forged at the national level to the factory and enterprise level and ensure total success of the strike.


The three day meeting of the working committee of CITU commenced at BT Ranadive Bhawan, the national headquarters of CITU in Delhi, with the hoisting of the red flag of CITU by its president AK Padmanabhan on the evening of  July 15. 127 working committee members and invitees from all over the country participated in the meeting.





Delivering the presidential address, AK Padmanabhan pointed out that the developments in the four months after the 13th conference of CITU have confirmed the assessment of the conference that the economic recovery, being talked about, was only a myth. The crisis has indeed spread and developed into a sovereign debt crisis in Greece and is impacting several European countries. The livelihood and living conditions of the workers are being attacked by the so called curative steps like steep wage cuts, reduction in pension benefits and increase in retirement age etc taken by these countries as per the directions of international finance capital. These measures are facing serious resistance from the working class. The year 2010 has seen massive strike actions in which tens of lakhs of workers and employees from different sectors participated, particularly in Spain, Portugal and Greece. In Latin America a new platform for powerful trade union struggles – the ‘Our America’ movement - has been built up with a commitment to strengthen the defence of fundamental class interests, their commitment to class solidarity, internationalism and search for the path that leads to unity in action. He asserted that class struggles were bound to develop in various parts of the world, though in various degrees, due to the intensification of the crisis. The claim that there was no alternative to capitalism has been severely dented by the developments during the last few years.

Padmanabhan strongly castigated the government of India for starting discussion on a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union even while the country was still discussing the negative impact of the FTA with ASEAN. The demands of the EU would harm our agriculture and industry and have a negative impact on our pharmaceutical industry and the drug availability. The government of India was more concerned to protect the interests of the Indian and foreign investors than those of the people of India.


The presidential address reminded the working committee of the responsibility of the CITU cadres to take up the issues of the common people that are connected with their day to day life and raise their consciousness by relating them to the policies of the government. The need for the CITU and its affiliated unions to intervene in the social issues impacting the people like caste oppression, the interference of the khap panchayats to control the lives of young people etc, was also highlighted by the president.



Tapan Sen, general secretary of CITU placed the report on the political and economic developments since the 13th conference of CITU and the important struggles launched by different sections of the working class in the country.




The report noted that, emboldened by the set backs to the Left including in the recent civic polls in West Bengal, the UPA II government was taking aggressive and desperate measures to push through the policies of deregulation and privatisation. The process of the impoverishment of the working class and the toiling masses while a small section of the rich amassing wealth, noted in the 13th conference of CITU was continuing.


Prices of food items continue to soar. Speculation in the commodity market is the single biggest encouraging factor for hoarding and black marketing in food grains and other essential commodities. But the government refuses to ban speculation; rather it facilitates the process by allowing the corporates in the procurement of food grains, sidelining the Food Corporation of India. It refuses to universalise the public distribution system.


The administrative price of natural gas being supplied to the priority sectors of the economy like power, fertiliser etc have been more than doubled in one stroke. The recent increase in the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas is a step towards complete deregulation of petroleum product pricing. This was the second increase in the prices of petrol and diesel within a span of four months, displaying nonchalance and arrogance on the part of the government. This will have a cascading effect resulting in further price rise. Exposing the deceptive arguments of the government on fuel price hike, the report warned that the government was preparing the stage for full scale entry of the private sector oil companies into the sector, marginalising the public sector companies.


The report noted the wild distortion in the distributive mechanism of the wealth generated by the people. As per a study conducted by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the gross profit of the corporate sector companies was 44 per cent of the total wage bill in 2001; in 2008, this has risen to 176 per cent! Even after the global crisis, of which the Indian economy was not completely immune, the profits of the private corporate sector has gone substantially up, while more than 50 lakhs workers lost their jobs.


The report strongly criticised the UPA government for kowtowing to the dictates of US imperialism. The FTA with ASEAN, the ongoing negotiations for a similar agreement with European Union, allowing 100 per cent FDI in retail trade including in multi brand products, deregulation of the financial sector etc that are on the anvil – all indicate that the ruling party is keener to facilitate quicker recovery of the crisis ridden economies of the rich industrialised nations than protecting the interests of the common people of India. Despite the experience of Bhopal gas tragedy, the government wants to push through the civil nuclear liability bill in the parliament, which seeks to put a cap on the compensation liability and more dangerously to insulate the American nuclear reactor suppliers from any liability in case of any accidents.


The report congratulated the Left led governments in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura for the various pro people measures despite the severe financial limitations. While privatisation has been central to the industrial policy of the government of India, the LDF government in Kerala has revived 12 state PSUs and taken steps to add three more units to the state PSUs.


The general secretary’s report seriously condemned the continuing attacks on the Left, particularly on CITU and CPI (M) cadres and supporters in West Bengal by the Maoists and Trinamool gangs, and paid homage to all those who laid down their lives in these heinous attacks. The working committee asserted that these attacks were an integral part of the design of the forces of right reaction aided by imperialist agencies to marginalise and weaken opposition to the neo liberal and pro imperialist policies. It called upon all the CITU cadres to fight the Maoists ideologically and launch campaigns to create awareness among the people on how these forces were in practice serving the interests of neo liberalism and the present system.





The main opposition party, the BJP, has not been able to effectively oppose the anti people economic policies of the UPA government, as it has implemented the same policies, equally if not more zealously, while being in power at the centre. The BJP led state governments too implement the same pro rich policies and are as deeply mired in corruption as the Congress led governments. The report observed that this was but natural, given its class character. But the BJP was trying to reap the benefit of the growing discontent of the people against the Congress led government. The ruling classes favour the development of a two party system that ensures the continuation of the neo liberal policies without any interruption. This was detrimental to the interests of the working people and has to be opposed. Besides, the BJP continues to pursue its communal divisive agenda. The working class must be made vigilant against any attempts to divide it and weaken the struggle against the policies that attack its livelihood. The working committee also noted the increasing impact of the identity politics. It emphasised the need for the trade unions to address the genuine demands and aspirations of the socially oppressed sections of the society and protect the unity of the class.


The report observed that the growing discontent among the people against the polices pursued by the UPA II government during the one year after coming to power was reflected in the massive participation of people in the various campaigns and struggles led by the Left parties as well as the joint platform of the central trade unions during the last several months. The massive mobilisation of anganwadi employees by All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers, which was unprecedented by a single federation at the national level, the huge mobilisation of ASHAs, the strike by the coal workers at the call of the Coal Workers’ Federation of India affiliated to CITU and the BSNL employees against disinvestment, the dharna before the parliament by the All India Road Transport Workers’ Federation, the struggle of the Hyundai workers in Chennai and the ATC tyre workers in Tirunelveli in Tamilnadu, the hydel project workers in Himachal Pradesh, the electricity employees in Punjab, and many such struggles in different states - all demonstrate the readiness of the workers to fight against the attacks on their working and living conditions. All these struggles were being fought in the face of rampant violation of labour laws and trade union rights of the workers.


Onslaught on the basic rights of the workers pertaining to minimum wages, working hours, social security, safety etc has become the order of the day with the state administration and the labour department acting as patrons to the employers. The employers were becoming increasingly intolerant to any form of collective expression by the workers.


It is in this situation that the united movement of the trade unions entered into a new phase. In a very significant development, the INTUC joined the other trade unions in giving a call for a nationwide strike on September 7, 2010. The report emphasised that independent campaign by CITU at the grass root level taking the issues to all the workers will strengthen and help in sustaining the unity attained at the top level.


41 members participated in the discussion on the general secretary’s report and fully endorsed the formulations and proposals for the tasks.


In addition to the immediate task of ensuring the total success of the  September 7 all India general strike, the working committee also decided to conduct a wide campaign on the issue of employees’ pension scheme, observance of 40th anniversary of the foundation of CITU, and the centenary of International Women’s Day. It has decided to organise a workshop on organisation to review the implementation of its Bhubaneswar document on organisation. On the basis of the targets for membership set by the state committees of CITU, the working committee decided to increase the membership of CITU to 84 lakhs by the time of the next conference.


MK Pandhe inaugurated the construction of the P Ramamurti Trade Union School and Research Centre on July 16. The working committee decided to collect the required funds and ensure that the construction is completed within the stipulated time. At the same time, it decided to continue organising trade union classes at different levels as part of the observance of the 40th anniversary of CITU.


The working committee meeting concluded with a sense of confidence and enthusiasm among the members on intensifying united struggles of the working class and strengthening the CITU to protect the interests of the toiling masses.