People's Democracy

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


No. 25

June 23, 2013




CITU Runs Campaign, MAY 30 to June 15


Raghunath Singh


AS a follow-up of the call given by its all-India conference at Kannur (Kerala) from April 4 to 8, the May 26 meeting of the state CITU office bearers decided to launch a mass campaign and agitation on the demands which were highlighted during the February 20-21 strike by all the central trade unions and on the burning demands of various sections of the workers in Punjab.


In consequence, actions were organised during the period from May 30 to June 15.


On the occasion of 43rd anniversary of the CITU, a big rally of transport workers was organised at Jalandhar on May 30. Over 2,000 transport workers of Punjab Roadways or PUNBUS took part in this rally. In the scorching sun, they took out a two km long procession and then staged a demonstration in protest against the illegal contract labour system, flagrant violation of labour laws by employers, registration of false police cases against trade union activists, and for the implementation of notification of revised minimum wages issued by the labour department of Punjab on November 15, 2012.


Rallies, hall meetings and demonstrations were organised in Ludhiana, Ropar, Amritsar, Sangrur, Mohali, Chandigarh, Pathankot, Rajpura, Bathinda, Fatehgarh Sahib, Machhiwara, Raikot, Jagraon and Nangal on the 43rd anniversary of the CITU. Addressing these rallies and meetings, state and district level CITU leaders highlighted the CITU’s achievements, the importance of the slogan of unity and struggle which was given by CITU on its foundation day, and the confederation issue raised by the CITU and its impact on joint struggles.


Rallies, demonstrations and dharnas, organised at more than 50 places, also pressed for the basic and burning demands of industrial workers, transport workers, brick kiln and construction workers, private security workers, Anganwari, ASHA and mid-day meal workers, MGNREGA workers, contract workers in various government and semi-government departments.


The contract workers of Punjab Roadways and PUNBUS, numbering about 3500, who went on a strike on April 26, held rallies at the gates of all the 18 depots of Punjab Roadways. Big rallies, demonstrations and chakka jam were also staged at Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Shahkot (home town of the state’s transport minister), Ropar, Nangal, Jagraon, Amritsar, Patti, Moga and Muktsar. All these rallies were addressed by state and district CITU leaders apart from those of Punjab Roadways PUNBUS Contract Workers Union.


Total chakka jam was organised for one hour on June 10 and it got unprecedented response all over the state. This traffic Jam was successful at about 50 places. Apart from Punjab Roadways and PUNBUS workers, a good number of other sections of also participated in this action. This action was held in solidarity with the strike of Punjab Roadways and PUNBUS workers and to press for implementation of the November 2012 notification of revised minimum wages.




On June 11, the management of PUNBUS had to sign an agreement with the CITU affiliated Punjab Roadways PUNBUS Contract Workers Union, agreeing to implement the revised minimum wages with effect from September 2012 and to pay the arrears within 30 days. The management also agreed to take all the workers on duty, revoke victimisations, give double wages for overtime work and withdraw police cases registered against leaders and workers of the union.


On June 12 and 13, victory rallies were held at the gates of all the 18 depots of Punjab Roadways and all the workers including the victimised ones joined duty. State CITU leaders and PUNBUS union leaders addressed these rallies.


The recently organised and registered Saral Safai Mazdoor Union, Punjab, held rallies during the fortnight at Bathinda, Ferozepur, Kotkapura, Mansa, Faridkot and Muktsar for their own demands and the three demands decided by the CITU’s all-India conference. This union staged a month long protest dharna before the office of vice chancellor of Baba Farid Medical University from April 30 to May 30, 2013. Ultimately the vice chancellor and the outsourcing Suvidha International had to sign an agreement with the union, agreeing to pay minimum wages, ensure continuity in services and reinstate all the retrenched workers. This union took part in two hours long traffic jam on June 10 at the call of the state CITU.


On June 14, the day of culmination of the fortnight long campaign and agitation, the state CITU organised protest dharnas and rallies in front of all the assistant labour commissioner offices in the state. State CITU leaders presented memoranda to the chief minister of Punjab and the prime minister of India demanding (a) Rs 10,000 minimum wage, (b) social security for all workers, and (c) equal wage for similar work, apart from strict implementation of notified minimum wages viz Rs 5695  to 8404 for different categories.


The Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union of brick kiln workers conducted sustained struggles and achieved 25 per cent hike over and above the enhanced minimum wages. The demands were achieved through agreements signed with district level brick kiln owners’ associations and certified by the conciliation officers. These victories were achieved in Ludhiana, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur, Barnala, Bathinda,  Muktsar,  Moga, Jalandhar,  Hoshiarpur and Faridkot districts. This union now has enrolled more than 65,000 members.


Due to the Mining Act, the question of sand and bajri has become a big question for construction activities. After the CITU led union took initiative on this question, other organisations also joined the struggle and ultimately the state government was forced to take some steps. The struggle is still going on.


During the period under report, the CITU formed a union of village chowkidars, and it staged a state level on June 18 in Chandigarh. The report is awaited.


The question of implementation of minimum wages has become a major rallying point for unorganised workers from many industries. Similarly, the fight for implementation of labour laws and against the illegal contract system is a major task today and the state CITU is being seen as a saviour of the workers’ cause, leading to an enhancement of its prestige and strength. The question of building matching organisations, education and cadre development are now among the major questions to be addressed.