People's Democracy

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


No. 47

November 20, 2011

Onward For an All India Strike


THE meeting of the extended secretariat of the CITU held in an atmosphere full of confidence and fighting spirit, given the background of the magnificent response of the working class to the jail bharo call of the united trade union movement, decided to intensify the struggle further. The CITU called upon all its state committees and affiliated unions to be ready for the call for general strike by the central trade unions, which were going to meet on November 25, and start preparations at once for the resounding success of the strike.


In addition to the CITU office bearers, the presidents and general secretaries of all its state committees and affiliated federations were invited to the meeting that was held on November 14-15, at B T Ranadive Bhawan in New Delhi. A K Padmanabhan, president of CITU was in chair. The meeting paid rich tributes to M K Pandhe, veteran leader of the trade union and democratic movement of the country, who led the CITU in different positions since its formation. The meeting also paid homage to Raj Bahadur Goud, senior leader of the AITUC, Rathin Sen, senior leader of the CITU and Bhupen Hazarika, the illustrious balladeer and singer.


Addressing the meeting, A K Padmanabhan drew the attention of the participants to the significance of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. He said that this movement was not directed only against the attacks on the people and was focusing on certain demands, but questioned the capitalist system itself. The slogan ‘we are the 99%’ highlighted the deprivation of the majority to benefit a small minority in the capitalist system. People were again looking to Marx, to understand the exploitation inherent in the system.


He said that the economic crisis has led to a situation where two prime ministers – in Greece and Italy – had to resign. US imperialism was seeking to continue its hegemony by intensifying its all round attacks including military interventions as was seen in the North African countries like Libya, Syria etc. He emphasised the need for the working class to be made aware of the true character of capitalism and prepare it to change the exploitative system. He exhorted the CITU leaders to intensify their efforts to strengthen the unity of the working class from the grass root level.


Tapan Sen, general secretary of CITU placed the report that analysed the present political and economic situation in the country, their impact on the conditions of the workers and the various struggles of the working class that were taking place in different parts of the country.


The report said that the manner in which Gaddafi was captured, tortured and killed demonstrated the ugly barbarism of the imperialism led by the USA. The imperialist intervention in the entire Middle East region is aimed at installing pro-US regime in the concerned countries in order to have control on the oil resources. Targeting of Iran and Syria by the US imperialists is also designed for the same purpose.


Capitalism is seeking to come out of the present crisis by intensifying the onslaught on workers’ and peoples’ livelihood. At the same time, the struggles of the working class against this onslaught were also intensifying. Europe and the USA witnessed a greater frequency of strikes and protests by the organised working class supported by the mass of the people. People were raising their voice against the rising inequalities under the neo liberal economic order and also against capitalism.


Within the country, the credibility of the Congress led UPA-II government was at the lowest following exposure of the corruption and scandals one after one and the utter mismanagement on all fronts. But in the absence of any credible alternative the government is arrogantly refusing to provide any relief to the people and is pushing through the same pro-imperialist policies of neoliberal globalisation. This situation posed a big challenge for the working class movement in the country.


Despite the continuing increase in the prices with the food inflation hovering around 12 per cent, pushing the living standards of common people further downward, the UPA 2 government is shamelessly arguing on poverty line to be fixed at Rs 26 and Rs 32 per day. The finance minister has already directed spending less and cutting allocations on various development and welfare programmes in the social sector including MGNREGA, cutting subsidies and emphasising on meeting the target of minimising fiscal deficit. 18 times hike in petroleum prices in the span of last 13 months (including the piecemeal hikes in between the major ones), last one being made when the international price of crude oil has actually declined, added fuel to the continuing price-rise, making the life of common people miserable.


The government has announced its intention to get the banking and insurance bills, the PFRDA Bill etc passed in the winter session of parliament and also in opening up the retail trade sector to FDI. They are also trying to get the labour laws amended in favour of employers in the coming session itself. The government has also announced a ‘National Manufacturing policy’ according to which National Manufacturing and Investment Zones would be set up where investors would be offered cheap land, readymade infrastructure, huge tax and other concessions without any export obligations. In fact, this is a design to convert the entire domestic business into Special Economic Zones and introduce labour law changes providing for ‘hire and fire’ through the back door. Six states – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have already been selected with Andhra Pradesh too in the list.


This situation is leading to increasing conflicts in workplaces throughout the country with workers going on struggles in defence of their rights and livelihood. The struggle of the Maruti Suzuki workers in Manesar to assert their trade union rights which continued for almost five months has attracted the attention of the entire nation. Among other notable all India united actions has been successful strikes of the bank employees, of the coal workers, of the sales promotion employees, of the workers of Swedish MNC Volvo at Bangalore etc. The BSNL employees decided to go on a country wide action against the government’s decision to retrench 90000 workers in the name of VRS. Many militant demonstrations were launched by the anganwadi employees in Gujarat braving prohibition and attack by the Modi government and also the joint demonstration by the anganwadi, ASHA and mid-day meal workers in Punjab braving lathi charges and police atrocities. The well attended national convention of government employees has called for a massive ‘March to Parliament’ on November 25. ASHAs from all over the country will hold a dharna near Parliament on November 24 under the leadership of the CITU.


The meeting congratulated the working class for the massive support to the jail bharo programme on November 8 where lakhs of workers all over the country held big mobilisations and courted arrest. This unity of the workers had to be further strengthened and broadened. It called upon all the state committees of the CITU to take initiative to strengthen the unity so that the next phase of struggle, the joint all India strike could be made more effective. Given the prevailing situation of growing discontent and anger against the neoliberal policies and capitalist system, the meeting felt that it was time to mobilise the workers and prepare them for offensive struggles.


It was decided to publish leaflets, pamphlets, booklets etc on the different demands raised by the joint trade union movement, and also exposing the inherent exploitative character of the capitalist system and the need to change the system, print them in lakhs and take them to the workers in a big way. The CITU state committees and affiliated unions were directed to approach each and every worker and involve them in the campaign and struggles as per the joint call of trade unions.


The CITU also decided to organise ‘M K Pandhe Memorial Lecture’ on relevant issues facing the working class movement every year at the national level as well in states on a suitable day during the period from July 11 and August 20, the days of birth and death of Comrade Pandhe.


2011 being the year on the basis of which the trade union verification will be held, the CITU secretariat decided to intensify the membership campaign and ensure that the CITU membership correctly reflects its role and initiatives in the trade union struggles in the country.