People's Democracy

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


No. 41

October 14, 2012







Convention of Struggling Textile Workers In Mumbai


                                             Ramsagar Pandey


ON Gandhi Jayanti, October 2, 2012, the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti held a large convention at the Shivaji Mandir Hall at Dadar in Mumbai to mark the 23rd anniversary of its formation in struggle. The hall was packed with over 1000 textile workers. The year 2012 also marked the completion of 30 years of the beginning of the last historic strike of over 2.5 lakh textile workers in Mumbai that began on January 18, 1982.


The chief guest at this convention was CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and leader of the Party’s parliamentary group, Sitaram Yechury. Addressing the convention, he said, “The alliance of the government and the textile mill-owners used the pretext of the great textile strike to close down the textile mills altogether. The huge lands on which the textile mills were situated were sold at astronomical profits and are now being used to build towering skyscrapers and malls to cater to the rich. But on the other hand, the dues of thousands of textile workers remain unpaid and their demand for cheap housing is being denied. It is only the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti that has honestly and militantly taken up the righteous struggle of textile workers over the last 23 years and its leadership must be congratulated. We shall certainly raise your legitimate demand for cheap housing in parliament.”


Dwelling upon the glorious history of the anti-imperialist struggle of the textile workers movement in Mumbai, Sitaram Yechury said that it was this that made the textile workers of Mumbai a role model for the working class throughout the country. He then came down heavily on the UPA-2 central government for its series of anti-people measures over the last few weeks – diesel and cooking gas price hike, allowing FDI in retail trade, the betrayal of food security and so on. The same government that gives away over Rs 5 lakh crore to the corporates in tax concessions and indulges in corruption scams like telecom and coal that lead to losses of nearly Rs 2 lakh crore each, says it does not have Rs 88,000 crore to give 35 Kg of grain to all families at Rs 2 per Kg, or Rs 35,000 crore for the proper implementation of the Right to Education Act. Incentives for the rich, and burdens on the poor, in order to please its imperialist masters – that is the sworn policy of this Congress-led regime, he charged. Finally, he called for a sustained struggle against this entire trajectory.


In the beginning, Pravin Ghag outlined the struggle that has been waged by the textile workers over the last three decades since they were thrown out of work by the mill-owners. Senior socialist leader Gajanan Khatu called upon the workers to continue with their fight. Editor of the Marathi daily Navakal, Jayashree Khadilkar-Pandey, Jayaprakash Bhilare, Nivrutti Desai and others also addressed the convention and extended their support. CITU national vice president K L Bajaj and textile workers leader Vithal Ghag were on the dais. In his presidential address, Datta Iswalkar gave a call for a large demonstration in Mumbai on October 10 on the question of cheap housing and other burning issues. A documentary film by Meena Karnik on the long struggle of textile workers was also screened on this occasion.