People's Democracy

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


No. 43

October 23, 2011

CITU Organises Sugar Factory Workers’ Convention


Udhav Bhavalkar


A convention of co-operative sugar factory workers, farmers and sugarcane harvesting workers was successfully organised by Maharashtra CITU at Aurangabad on August 7, 2011. The resolution for saving the co-operative sugar sector from the onslaughts of rampant privatisation and liberalisation was effectively adopted along with the charter of demands of the organised and unorganised sugar industry workers.


The convention was inaugurated by the minister of state co-operation and marketing, Prakash Solunke who readily had agreed to make efforts to break the present stalemate. He promised to look into the problems of workers and sugarcane producing farmers.


Veteran CITU leader Udhav Bhavalkar presided over the convention. Hundreds of workers from the co-operative sugar factories as well as farmers and sugarcane cutters and transporters attended the convention in the hope of getting resolved their long standing problems of arrears of wages and remunerative prices for sugarcane.


Anna Sawant welcomed the guests and workers on behalf of the co-ordination committee of Maharashtra CITU. Dr D L Karad general secretary of Maharashtra CITU, in his hard hitting speech lambasted the central and state government for dismantling the very sugar co-operative sector which provides the largest employment to lakhs of farmers, workers and sugarcane cutters in Maharashtra. He said that instead of protecting the co-operative sugar sector, the neo liberal policies of the government are recklessly selling sugar factories to private entrepreneurs at throw away prices. He demanded that urgent help must be extended to the co-operative sugar factories to keep running, BIFR should be provided list of ailing sugar factories to get them out of crisis and workers dues must be paid at the earliest for which the state government must provide fund.


Udhav Bhavalkar, in his introductory remarks took the state government to task for carelessly handing over the co-operative sugar factories to provide for the capitalists. He demanded that the closed and sick sugar factories should be granted adequate credit to pay the arrears of the workers. He insisted that there should be co-ordination among sugar factory workers, management, farmers and harvesting workers to save the sugar co-operative sector.


Raghunathdada Patil, president of the break-away group of Sharad Joshi led Shetakari Sanghtana accused the government of ruining the interests of the farmers by deliberately keeping MSP for sugarcane low. He demanded prices to be fixed based on the actual expenditure of inputs.


Many representatives of the sugar co-operative factory workers gave vent to their anger and raised their burning problems. They were denied dues of their wages for months and their PF share was not sent by the sugar barons. How can the hungry workers run their factories, they asked.


The convention was also addressed by the retired deputy director of sugar, K E Hardas who had been a crusader against the sugar barons’ high handedness while in service and he remained with the toilers even after retirement. Prakash Chaudhary, president, Maharashtra Rajy Shet Majoor union, while greeting the convention, asked the state government whether it was ready to fight against the neo-liberal policies of the centre. He raised the demand of Rs 200 per ton for the sugarcane harvesting workers and urged the organised workers and farmers to unite and fight for it.


Venkatrao Bhange of Ambejogai sugar factory union, presented main resolution which criticised the state government for its policies and demanded protection to the co-operative sugar sector. The general secretary of sugarcane cutters and transporters organisation Subhash Jadhav seconded the resolution and Rajkumar Sidaskr (Latur), Ramrao Rathod (Hingoli), Bhagvan Salve (Parbhani), Sarkate (Jalana), Vinayak Deshmukh (Bhldhana), V R Rajput (Kannad), D M Patil (Osmanabad) and Gopal Shinde (Indapur) expressed their views on the resolution while supporting it.


The minister, Prakash Salunke, agreed to inaugurate the convention in the later part, so that he could listen  to the stand of workers and farmers. He listened to the speeches of the leaders. He stressed the need for the concerted efforts to run the sugar industry and promised his own contribution towards it. He raised the question of exporting more sugar also.


Bhavalkar declared that demonstrations infront of district collectorates would be held on October 3, 2011 at Azad Maidan by the co-ordination committees formed and discussion with the co-operation minister about the demands would be held. Nearly 500 workers from 15 districts of the state were present for the convention. The Aurangabad CITU worked hard to make the convention a grand success.


The convention was unique in the sense that the save sugar industry from privatisation had become the focal issue of the working class for the first time. The ruling classes were given a warning to stop selling the co-operative sugar factories. The convention showed that the united efforts of the organised and unorganised workers along with the farmers can resolve the present crises by opposing the neo liberal policies of the government.