(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 27, 2013
Jose T Abraham
TAKING place at Kasargode on January 12 to 14, 2013, the 12th conference of the Kerala state committee of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) started with the hoisting of CITU flag by K N Ravindranath, president of its state committee. P Karunakaran, chairman of the reception committee, delivered the welcome address. The inaugural meeting was presided over by K N Raveendranath. Tapan Sen, general secretary of the CITU, inaugurated the conference which was attended by delegates and observers from all the 14 districts in the state.
In the inaugural meeting, Kanam Rajendran (general secretary of the state AITUC), A A Azeez (all-India general secretary, UTUC), Advocate Bhargavan Pillai (state president, BMS) and Ahmed Kutty Unnikulam (state president, STU) also addressed the delegates. All of them appreciated the role played by the CITU in building united movement, with STU leader Ahmed Kutty appreciating the achievements of the erstwhile LDF government in the areas of industry and labour.
The general secretary’s report was placed by M M Lawrence, general secretary of the state committee, while K M Sudhakaran, its treasurer, placed the report of accounts. A K Padmanabhan, national president of the CITU, made the concluding remarks.
The general secretary’s report noted that the total membership of the CITU at the time of the 11th conference (as per the records of affiliation in 2008) was 12,74,445 in 857 unions while the 12th conference took place on the basis of a membership of 14,151,170 in 836 unions (as per the affiliation records in 2011). There is thus an increase of 1,76,725 between the 11th and the 12th conferences. However, the conference did feel that the full potential has not been realised. The conference self-critically analysed the functioning of organisation at all levels in the state --- from the state centre to the committees at the district level as well as that of the state federations and union committees during the intervening period since the last conference. The conference identified some shortcomings in the functioning at different levels and adopted certain concrete measures to improve it.
A total of 62 delegates participated in the discussion over the general secretary’s report. The major issues that came up from the delegates during the discussion were as follows. The policies of the UDF government are destroying the industrial sector of the state and strong agitations need to be built against this state of affirs. Special care must be taken to organise the migrant labourers. The Madhav Gadgil report would affect the Wayanad and Idukki districts adversely, and would create a lot of problems for the plantation sector. The negative aspects of the Gadgil report must be handled seriously. Many new industries in the state are in a serious crisis today. Strong campaign and agitation programmes must be conducted to protect them. The CITU must also take the attacks and cultural invasions of the right wing forces seriously. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is in a big crisis. While the KSRTC was protected and strengthened during the LDF time, the present UDF dispensation is causing it all-out damages. During the LDF time, commendable work was done in the industrial sector and in electricity sector, but today the UDF regime is sabotaging all these efforts. Under the UDF rule all the traditional sectors are facing a serious crisis. To it, a serious view must be taken by the CITU’s state centre. Environmental issues need to be taken up seriously by the CITU. Wages are very low in the plantation sector and therefore workers are leaving the plantations. This situation needs to be addressed. The identity of the CITU must be upheld while participating in the united programmes. The participation of women in the conference was still very little; this issue must be viewed seriously. The CITU must take the initiative to organise international struggles against the neo-liberal policies; a joint front of class and mass organisations must be formed at the national level and agitations organised. The organisation in the IT sector should be strengthened. Teachers in the unaided sector are being exploited intensely; the CITU must endeavour to organise them. The policies of the central and state government have created serious problems in the cooperative sector; this issue must be taken seriously. The UDF government is in the process of privatising the drinking water sector; joint struggles must come up against this move.
The conference also discussed four important issues --- some ideological issues, organisation, traditional sectors and welfare schemes --- in four different commissions. Written papers were presented in all the commissions. As many as 112 delegates participated in the commission on some ideological issues, 105 delegates participated in the commission on organisation, 155 in the commission on welfare schemes and 130 in the commission on the traditional sectors.
In the session on ideological issues, chaired by M M Lawrence, a paper was presented by K N Raveendranath. During the discussion, issues like identity politics, job loss due to mechanisation, depoliticisation etc came up for discussion. K Chandran Pillai presented a gist of discussions that took place in the session.
In the organisational session, many suggestions for strengthening the organisation came up during the discussion. It was suggested that more full time workers should be inducted into the CITU. Also, more comrades from the working class must be included in the committees. The CITU must also take up social issues. P Nandakumar presented a gist of discussions that took place in the session.
In the session on welfare schemes, K M Sudhakaran presented the gist of the report. It noted that most of the welfare schemes came up during the LDF period. At present, there are running 31 welfare schemes in the state. But the UDF is going ahead with a policy of curtaining all these schemes.
In the session on traditional sectors, Mercikutty Amma consolidated and presented the report. The main issues that came up are as below. There is large scale job loss in the coir sector. Many facilities given by the LDF have been withdrawn by the UDF regime. The cashew sector is also in a big crisis; all the factories under the Cashew Corporation remain closed due to the policies of the UDF government. The handloom sector too is in a serious crisis and the cooperatives in this sector are on the verge of lockouts. Those engaged in the toddy sector are in a sad plight. Workers in the cane weaving units are also becoming jobless. In such circumstances, the commission participants demanded strong agitations.
The gist of the discussions in each of the four commissions was placed in the plenary of the conference which authorised the newly elected office bearers to finalise the reports by incorporating the suggestions and opinions of the delegates.
The report and the accounts were unanimously adopted after M M Lawrence, P Nanda Kumar and K M Sudhakaran replied to the points raised in the discussion.
The conference also unanimously adopted 24 resolutions on different issues. These included issues like price rise, so-called reforms in the banking and insurance sectors, and policies of the UDF government in various sectors, among other things.
A 460 member state general council and a 157 member state committee including 30 office bearers were unanimously elected in the conference. Anathalavattom Anandan and Elamaram Kareem were elected the new president and general secretary of the state committee, while K N Ravindranath and M M Lawrence are among the elected vice presidents. Three out of the 30 office bearers are women --- an increase by one over the last team of office bearers.
A massive procession was organised on the concluding day of the conference in which around 20,000 workers from Kasargode district alone participated. The public meeting organised after the rally was inaugurated by A K Padmanabhan. The meeting was presided over by Anathalavattom Anandan, and addressed by Elamaram Kareem and others. Tapan Sen distributed prizes to the winners of cultural and sports competitions conducted in connection with the conference.
The Kasargode district committee of the CITU did commendable work in making the conference a resounding success. CITU activists visited almost every home in the district, irrespective of their political affiliations, to collect funds for the conference by using Rs 10 coupons. The response of the people was overwhelming. Also, 14 seminars on different topics were conducted in various parts of the district. Cultural and sports competitions were also organised. There was good involvement of people from all sections in all these programmes.