People's Democracy

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


No. 18

May 05, 2013




May Day Calls for Intensification of Class-Struggle


                                                      A K Padmanabhan


MAY Day this year comes in the background of deepening crisis of the capitalist system and intensification of mass movements and struggles all over the world.


All over the so-called developed world, working people, unemployed youth, students and various other sections of working people are on the streets, en masse, protesting against the increasing exploitation and denial of the existing benefits and facilities. The much trumpeted `new dawn’ in the 21st century has proved to be a false hope to the working people in general, whichever part of the world they are living in.



As May Day, the international day of the working people, is linked to working hours – denoting the level of exploitation– the question of employment becomes a major issue.  Unemployment and under employment are the major challenges that the world faces today.  The crisis in the capitalist world has made the situation significantly worse.


As per the latest data, unemployment in the United States of America, the leader of the `developed’ world, is 7.9 per cent.  When those working part time and also those who are in need of fulltime employment are also added, 14.4 per cent of the labour force is in search of full time employment.  This according to Monthly Review magazine works out to 22 million people in search of jobs, compared to “total non-farm private sector employment of about 113 million”.  The magazine also reports that full time equivalent jobs in the private sector are less than 100 million.


This is not the situation in USA alone.  Entire Europe is on the boil, on the question of unemployment – those who have entered the `labour market’ and those who have been thrown out from employment coming together on the streets.  With the deepening crisis and the sovereign debt issue being used to pressurise countries to go for more and more `austerity’, public employment has been curtailed heavily; and for those who are left with  jobs, there is severe attack on their wages, other benefits and social security.


International Labour Organisation (ILO) has warned that the global unemployment situation in 2013 can be far worse than the previous years.  ILO notes in their ‘Global Employment Trends for 2013’, that after 5 years of the outbreak of the global financial crisis, labour markets remain deeply depressed.  According to the report, the number of unemployed world wide rose by 4.2 million in 2012 to over 197 million, a 5.9 per cent unemployment rate.  It also notes that the number of job seekers is expected to rise to more than 210 million over the next five years.  And for the youth – the vibrant sections of those who are searching for jobs, the situation remains “particularly bleak with almost 74 million people in the 15 to 24 age group unemployed around the world” – a 12.6 per cent of youth unemployment rate.


The ILO’S present director general, who was the general secretary of the reformist international trade union organisation – ITUC – notes that there are 28 million more unemployed people around the world than in 2007.  He has also noted that the crisis from 2007 “caused more damage than previously thought in the development process of the developing countries”.


Among those who are working, a large section is from those who are being labelled as working poor.  The ILO report says, that “there are still around 870 million workers living with their families on less than US$ 2 per person per day; of which nearly 400 million are living just above the poverty line and are highly vulnerable to any, future economic shocks”.




Here it is important to note that the share of wages from all that is produced in the world is getting reduced.  All data, from various sources, indicate decline in real wages.  A study on the minimum wages in the USA also noted this decline.  The proposal of the US president to increase minimum wages to $9 per hour by 2015 will only restore the real wages to 1979 level!


Crisis or no crisis, the top income group is benefiting and the disparities are increasing all over the capitalist world.  Joseph Stiglitz, the noted economist, in a very recent analysis pointed out that USA is the country with highest level of disparities in the developed world.


The Economist in its issue dated October 12, 2012 on the growing inequalities worldwide, stated that   “… within many countries income gaps have widened.  More than two-thirds of the world’s people live in countries where income disparities have risen since 1980, often to a startling degree”.  It continues: `Many countries, including Britain, Canada, China, India and even egalitarian Sweden, have seen a rise in the share of national income taken by the top 1 per cent.  The numbers of the ultra-wealthy have soared around the globe.  According to Forbes magazine’s rich list, America has some 421 billionaires, Russia 96, China 95 and India 48.  The world’s richest man is a Mexican (Carlos Slim, worth some $69 billion).  The world’s largest new house belongs to an Indian. Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storey skyscraper in Mumbai occupies 400,000 square feet, making it 1300 times bigger than the average shack in the slums that surround it’ (here it compares with the house of a US railway magnate, the industry leader and says that his house in 1889, `was 300 times bigger than the average dwelling of its day’).  The Report clearly states that the phenomenon of rising income inequalities had accelerated since the 1980s due to the pursuance of the policies of liberalisation and globalisation.  It further states that `There is only one exception to this general worldwide phenomenon’ – ‘The biggest exception to the general upward trend is Latin America, long the world’s most unequal continent, where the Gini coefficients have fallen sharply over the past ten years’.  We all know that it is due to the policies pursued by the progressive governments in Latin America that this was possible.


It is against these, the increasing unemployment, and disparities and reduction in wage share that the working people all over the world are on struggle.




India is also not an exception to this growing exploitation.  The report of the general secretary, to the recently concluded 14th All India Conference of CITU noted the situation in India as follows.


“Inequality has increased to an intolerable level.  The number of dollar billionaires in India has increased more than four times in eight years and doubled in two years to reach 55 in 2011.  In 2011, the net worth of the 100 richest Indians was around 240 billion dollars i.e. Rs 12 lakh crore - more than the size of the annual budget of the country.  Side by side, poverty is deepening as explained above.  The 66th round of National Sample Survey carried out between July 2009 and June 2010 revealed that the poorest 10 per cent of the rural population survive with less than Rs15 per day whereas for the poorest 10 per cent of urban population the figure is a little higher at Rs 20 per day.  According to the same report, the median level of monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE) was Rs 895 in rural and Rs 1502 in urban India, indicating the consumption levels of the majority of our people.”


With the share of wages in the gains of production going down drastically, the share of profit has been going up; during the last one and half decade, it has gone up by more than three times.


The employers and their analysts agree that `despite a slowdown in revenue growth, higher interest costs and increase leverage, there has been an improvement in the earnings of top companies.  Operating margins were also better.  (Economic Times – study of Top 500 companies).  Another study of 914 companies also shows increase in profits even when sales have gone down.


Not only disparities within the society in general, but disparities within the enterprises are also increasing.


Here are some details about the income of corporate top brass.  “The medium pay for a CEO in India on a purchasing power parity basis was at nearly $3.5 million in 2011-12 (growing steadily at 15-18 per cent in the past few years), in companies with more than $2 billion in revenues.  It is half of the figure of $ 7 million in the US.  (Business Line, March 2013).


The same daily also notes that in India, a CEO’s compensation is on an average 675 times of the minimum wage of an entry level employee, followed by US (423 times) and China (268 times).


Consider this to the situation in the country, where the government turns its face on the demand for at least Rs10,000 per month as statutory minimum wage for an unskilled worker.


Is it not high time that we demand a rational, scientific and just wage policy in the country and put an end to the so called fat cat phenomena!




Employment generation is going down.  Whatever growth is there, it is based on job losses.  Cruel exploitation takes place in the name of casualisation, contractorisation and various such practices.


CITU, in the just concluded conference has raised the demand of 35 hours of work and four-shift working day.  This demand has generated a lot of discussions immediately after the conference and is bound to continue.  In the background of technological advances and large scale usage of modern, automated process including large scale usage of robots – which according to the employers will not ask for coffee breaks – this demand of reduction of working hours and more employment opportunities has to be raised and fought for in the coming days.  In our struggle for more employment, for legitimate share in the increased production and productivity, this demand is of great importance.  It is to be noted that in some countries workers have achieved this demand and this is an important demand of World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) in its world wide campaign and struggle.


This May Day, in this background, becomes an important occasion to raise our voice to demand our share and move towards mobilising people for the struggle to end the exploitative system.


This was the message also of the 14th Conference of CITU, which called for intensification of class struggle in the struggle for an alternative.