(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 29, 2010
Country Gets Ready
For A Historic Sept 7 Strike
A K Padmanabhan
WITH only a few days left to the D-Day, working people all over the country are gearing up for the historic day of united action in the Indian trade union movement, the country wide general strike of the workers on September 7, 2010.
new beginning in the history of united struggle of workers has been
made in September
2009 with almost all the central trade unions in the country deciding
up a massive countrywide movement of workers and employees on a five
of demands. The demands put forward by
the central TUs were not the demands of the workers alone. They reflect
demands of every section of the vast majority of Indian masses all over
country. On the issues of price rise, universalising the public
system and ensuring food security for all, there have been country wide
discussions and debates and also nationwide strikes and hartals. Even the prime minister was forced to accept
the seriousness of the situation and express `concern’.
But what the government of
The demand for strict enforcement of labour laws needs no explanation. The MNCs and even the `national’ investors in the country have taken up the position that they are not prepared to accept or implement labour laws and would not even concede the workers’ right to form a union. Labour departments of the central government and in many of the state governments have almost stopped functioning as ‘labour’ departments; they are more concerned in protecting the employers who violate labour laws. The state of affairs in the enforcement wings is highly deplorable. Incidents of large scale victimisation of workers, who dare to come together to form a trade union, are increasing in various parts of the country, especially in the new investment areas, not to speak of the SEZs.
While the government has been granting huge stimulus packages to save the interests of the industry, nothing is even said about saving jobs. In many conferences and seminars, our rulers including the prime minister speak eloquently about the necessity of job creation and regret the lack of it; but in practice, the government policies including the continuing ban on recruitment, lead to reduction of job opportunities. Even in departments like railways, the safety of the passengers has been put at stake with the ban on recruitments and the so called large scale surrendering of posts. While the labour minister and governmental representatives speak about `decent jobs', which the International Labour Organisation has been insisting on for some time, the fact remains that the workers are forced to work in inhuman conditions. The government itself employs millions of women and men in its various programmes, refusing to recognise them as workers and paying them measly ‘honorariums’. Their appalling working conditions have compelled them to organise repeated countrywide struggles; but the government remains insensitive. Even in the organised sector, both in public and private sector, the number of contract and casual workers without any statutory benefits, has been increasing enormously. Every aspect of the `growth’ proclaimed by the government has been at the expense of workers; and all the high talk of inclusive growth has proved to be only hollow!
The present UPA government is hell bent in carrying out its neoliberal agenda; disinvestment of PSUs has become a priority, with maharatnas and navaratnas being brought to the blocks for the killing at the earliest. The government is increasingly succumbing to the pressure of the national and international investors allowing them to loot the wealth of our nation. Attracting investment even at the cost of our self reliance and protecting our sovereignty has become the priority of this UPA government.
Any talk of the unorganised sector workers in the country brings out the crocodile tears of the ruling class leaders. Some times, they even utilise the precarious condition of those workers to oppose the just demands of other sections of working people. But, when it comes to their minimum wages or issues of social security, the government is not prepared to do anything. The much trumpeted Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act 2008 has become only a showpiece, with various restrictions on eligibility and lack of provisions for funding.
From among the unending issues facing the working people in the country, the joint movement has chosen five issues of importance for the struggle. The campaign which began in September 2009 has seen the mobilisation of millions of workers all over the country in various phases of the struggle.
Thus, the joint convention on July 15 became a historic event with not only the central trade unions, but also the national federations of various sections of employees from insurance, banking, telecom, defence, petroleum and of central and state government employees participating in it.
State level conventions have been held in all states and campaigns at lower levels have geared up. National level leaders of the central TUs and federations have been visiting various industrial centres and state capitals and participating in the conventions. Industry and sector wise conventions have also been held at national and state levels. Strike notices have also been served. In several states, joint campaigns are being conducted at the lower levels too.
The unity generated through this wide campaign has enthused the cadres of all the participating unions and reports show that millions of handbills, posters and pamphlets are being circulated. Wall writing, jathas, torch light processions etc have been planned.
Though for the last one year, BMS was also in the forefront of the campaign, it did not join the national convention on July 15, expressing inability to join the strike on September 7 due to some organisational commitments. As the demands were finalised jointly, and it too agreed on the need to go for a countrywide strike on these demands and participated in the year long joint campaigns, it is expected that at the local level, all unions will be together in this strike.
It is to be noted that all the leaders of the central TUs have come out openly and stressed the necessity of further strengthening the unity, so as to meet the challenges before the working people in this country. The general strike on September 7, 2010 will no doubt be a great success which is bound to have a historic impact on the future of the trade union movement in the country and on the future of our nation.