People's Democracy

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


No. 36

September 09, 2012


TU Convention Calls for Two-Day All-India Strike


K Hemalata


THE working class of India is getting ready for another battle --- a battle against the class exploitation of the people of the country by the employers, facilitated by the neo-liberal policies of the government.


Expressing its serious indignation at the contemptuous neglect displayed by the government by completely ignoring its demands put forth through 14 countrywide general strikes in the last 20 years, the working class of the country has decided to take the struggle to new heights so as to bring the government to its senses.


The historic joint trade union convention, held at Talkatora Stadium in the national capital on September 4, 2012, gave a clarion call to all the toiling people in the country to come together and push back the neo-liberal policies that are responsible for the increasing attacks on their rights, on their lives and livelihoods. The convention decided to unleash a massive campaign on the demands which the central union organisations have been highlighting during the last three years, since 2009, and it will culminate in an unprecedented all-India general strike for two days --- on February 20-21, 2013. The convention also called upon the working people to come out in their full strength all over the country in Satyagraha and court arrest on December 18-19 this year. Thousands of workers led by all the central trade union leaders will march to the parliament on December 20 to press their demands. State, district and local level as well as sectoral joint conventions will be held in September, October and November to take the message of the convention to all the corners of the country and to all sections of the workers.


The basic thrust of the convention was that the unity at present achieved at the national level has to be taken to the grassroots level, as a strong united movement alone can reverse the anti-worker anti-people policies of the government.


The huge response of the workers to the joint national convention, despite the unfavourable weather conditions, indicates their determination to not only continue but further intensify their fight against the attacks on their rights. They have refused to be cowed down by the attempts of the employers, the national and multinational corporations in various parts of the country, with the open support of the government, to instil a sense of fear and insecurity to prevent them from getting organised, as seen in the case of Maruti Manesar. On the contrary, such attacks in different parts of the country seem to have only increased their determination to fight and protect their rights.


Workers from all over the country --- from the organised sector as well as the unorganised sector, from all industries, steel, coal and other mines, port and dock, railways, electricity, oil, transport, telecom, construction, insurance, banks, state and central government departments, postal department --- participated in the convention along with the plantation workers, beedi workers, brick kiln workers, workers from small industrial units, shops, fishers etc. Women workers, Anganwadi employees, ASHA workers, mid-day meal workers and others too participated in large numbers. What was significant was also the participation of large numbers of young workers. Such was the enthusiasm of the workers that the Talkatora Stadium, the venue of the convention, was overflowing and around half the workers had to stand outside to hear their leaders.


As the Declaration unanimously adopted by the convention shows, the demands raised by the working class encompass the demands of all sections of the toiling people. These include the incessant price rise, employment, minimum wages to all workers, same wage for same or similar jobs, universal social security and disinvestment, along with the issues of mass scale contractisation, rampant violation of labour laws and onslaught on trade union rights. It is necessary that all democratic forces and organisations of the toiling masses fully support the struggle initiated by the joint trade union movement to ensure the reversal of the neo-liberal policies, because, this is the only way to protect the livelihoods and rights of all sections of the people including the peasants, agricultural workers and others.


The Joint National Convention of Trade Unions was presided over by a presidium comprising Akhtar Hussein (BMS), Ashok Singh (INTUC), Amarjeet Kaur (AITUC), Sharad Rao (HMS), A K Padmanabhan (CITU), Satyavan Singh (AIUTUC), Shiv Shankar (TUCC), Abani Roy (UTUC), SP Roy (AICCTU), Ratna Sabhapati (LPF) and Jyoti Marwa (SEWA). B N Rai from BMS, Sanjeeva Reddy from INTUC, Gurudas Dasgupta from AITUC, H S Siddu from HMS, Tapan Sen from CITU, Krishna Chakravarti from AIUTUC, S P Tiwari from TUCC, Ashok Ghosh from UTUC, Swapan Mukherjee from AICCTU, Shanmugam from LPF and Monali Shah from SEWA addressed the convention.


The office bearers of the CITU and its state level leaders all over the country, the leaders from different independent all-India federations of workers and employees including state government, central government, banks, insurance, postal, telecom, defence, steel, coal, electricity, oil, transport, railways, plantations etc participated in the convention.