People's Democracy

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


No. 35

September 01,2013

CITU Working Committee Calls for Intensification of Struggles Against Neo-liberal Policies


Don’t kill yourselves. We are with you and let us together fight and reverse the anti peasant and anti worker policies of the government’ – This was the call of the CITU working committee to the peasants reeling under the agrarian crisis.

The working committee of the CITU unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon the working class to extend solidarity and support to the struggles of the peasants and all other sections of the toiling masses adversely affected by the neo-liberal policies being pursued by the UPA-2 government. It reiterated the call of the 14th conference of the CITU and directed all its state committees, affiliated unions, activists and members to ‘reach the unreached’ workers, irrespective of their affiliations, create awareness of the devastating impact of the neo-liberal policies and mobilise them to change these policies. It called upon the working class to unite to fight for alternative pro-people policies.

The meeting of the working committee of the CITU, the first after its 14th conference, was held in ‘Samar Mukherjee Nagar’ in Jaipur on August 27–29, 2013. Around 125 members from all over the country attended the meeting which started with the CITU flag being unfurled by AK Padmanabhan, president of the CITU. The working committee members were welcomed by Ravindra Shukla, chairman of the reception committee and president of Rajasthan state committee of the CITU.

The working committee paid rich tributes to Samar Mukherjee who served the working class and the people of the country in various capacities and passed away in his hundredth year. It strongly condemned the attacks on the Left by the Trinamool goons in West Bengal and paid condolence at the death of all the cadres, activists and sympathisers of the Left and the CITU who were killed during the recent panchayat polls in the state. It condemned the brutal killing of Narendra Dabholkar, who led the crusade against superstitious practices and had to face the wrath of the right wing communal forces. The working committee expressed shock and serious concern at the increasing number of industrial accidents in which hundreds of workers were being killed, the latest incident being the ghastly fire in the HPCL in Visakhapatnam in which 10 workers were killed and another 10 injured were reported to be in a very critical condition.


Delivering the presidential address, Padmanabhan drew the attention of the members to the serious economic situation reminiscent of the 1991 situation in the country. He strongly criticised the attempts of the government led by Manmohan Singh as prime minister to force on the country more of the failed economic policies initiated by Manmohan Singh as the finance minister.

He referred to the growing unemployment all over the world as a result of the continuing global economic crisis, the attempts of US imperialism to subvert the democratic rights of people all over the globe and the increasing resistance of the workers and the common people against the attacks on their living conditions.

Unemployment has assumed crisis proportions all over the world. The ILO had to assert ‘It requires a shift of policy mix and production patterns towards job rich growth’. Even in USA, unemployment continues to be a serious problem and according to reports, ‘too many jobs are either temporary, low paid or both’.

According to an article in the New York Times, despite the US remaining among the richest countries in the world, ‘… in many areas, the US looks surprisingly depressingly backward. Infant and maternal mortality are the highest among the advanced nations. So is the mortality rate of children under the age of 20. Life expectancy at birth, at age 60 – is among the lowest. Among the nations in the OECD, only in Turkey, Mexico and Poland do more children live in poor homes!’

Yet the USA tries to retain its hegemony over the world through its military might. The presidential address also criticised USA for its hypocrisy in sermonising other countries over democracy while all the time violating the democratic rights of its own citizens as well as of the people all over the world. The recent exposures by Snowden, a contract employee with the National Security Agency of the USA brought out the stunning details of the surveillance and snooping of the US security agencies. The multinational companies in the telecom and internet sectors were fully collaborating with these operations. Padmanabhan said that it was shameful that ‘while the most powerful ‘democracy’ in the world defends its snooping activities, the government of the ‘largest democracy’ in the world keeps mum on the exposure of its collaboration in the exercise. He called upon the CITU members to expose such servile attitude of the UPA government toward US imperialism.

Padmanabhan said that struggles by the working class and the people against the attacks on their livelihood are continuing in various parts of the world including in India. In Greece, Portugal, Spain, Egypt, Brazil and many other countries people were coming out in hundreds of thousands against such attacks.

Even the organisations of the Indian corporates and their representatives were compelled to acknowledge the seriousness of the present situation and the growing discontent among the workers. A study conducted by the FICCI titled ‘Indian Risk Survey 2013’ rated ‘strikes, closures and unrest’ as the number one risk in 2013. The participants in a conference of HR heads organised by the CII in July 2013 were of the opinion that ‘labour discord was among the top issues dogging the corporate sector’. He quoted some interesting excerpts from the reports of this conference. According to the report in a business daily, B. Muthuraman, vice chairman of Tata Steel, said ‘Most of the problems in IR (industrial relations) is due to the management and not the workers. We have not reached out to them. We consider them robots and reach out to them only when we have to’.

Welcoming the campaign for alternative policies undertaken by the Left parties in the country, Padmanabhan said that this was a continuation of the struggle by the Left parties and the various Left oriented trade unions and mass organisations since the inception of the neo-liberal policies since 1991. Padmanabhan also welcomed the decision of the recently concluded national conference of the All India Kisan Sabha, to launch countrywide struggles on the demands of the peasants. He reminded the working committee of the decision of the 14th conference of the CITU to strengthen the worker-peasant unity in struggles. He urged the working committee to support the struggles of the peasants against the impact of the government policies. He said that the working class must create the confidence among the peasants, through its solidarity and support that struggles and not suicides are the way forward.


Tapan Sen, general secretary of the CITU introduced the political organisational report. The report analysed the present political and economic situation in the country, the joint and independent struggles during the intervening period after the 14th conference of the CITU. It also proposed the tasks to strengthen unity and intensify struggles in the coming days to reverse the anti-worker anti-people policies of the country. The report was unanimously adopted by the working committee after 39 members participated in the discussion and endorsed it.

The report noted that the same trend of unambiguous right ward direction of government in political, economic and foreign policy matters, as noted by the 14th conference, continued. The main opposition party, the BJP, was not opposed to these suicidal policies. In fact, it was bailing out the otherwise minority government in almost all the crucial economic issues. Barring the Left parties which staunchly opposed the neo-liberal policies, the other political parties were taking an opportunist stand.

This principled stand of the Left against the neo-liberal policies earned it the wrath of the ruling classes, which seek to eliminate it. Concerted physical as well as ideological attacks are being made on the Left, particularly on its strongholds. The panchayat elections in West Bengal witnessed another surge on the attacks on the Left in West Bengal in which scores of Left activists were killed.

The general secretary’s report pointed out that, what was being witnessed in West Bengal was not merely an anti Left violence but an outright attack on democracy and the people who raised voices of dissent against the state government. The rising fascist tendencies of suppressing anybody opposing the ruling party in the state are a serious threat to democracy. The report emphasised that the class conscious segment of the working class movement like the CITU must be conscious of the real objectives of such all round attacks on the Left by the right wing forces. While expressing solidarity with the fighting workers and cadres of the CITU and the Left in West Bengal, all the state committees of the CITU must conduct continuous campaign all over the country and mobilise the working class to defeat the reign of terror and violence in the state.

The growing discontent among the people was sought to be utilised by the different varieties of divisive forces to divide them on the basis of religion, caste, creed, community, ethnicity, etc. The poor were getting sandwiched between the Maoist forces on the one hand and the armed forces in some states. All these forces pose a serious challenge to the working class and democratic movement, derailing people’s anger and ultimately help the perpetrators of exploitation in suppressing the people. The recent announcement of statehood for Telangana on the basis of political calculations, to benefit the Congress party has led to a spate of agitations in different parts of the country demanding separate states. Separate statehood is not the solution for the backwardness and poverty that was the outcome of the policies of the government and the ruling classes. The working class must be made aware of the real causes for the backwardness and united in the struggle against the neo-liberal policies that aggravate inequality and exploitation.

The economic situation in the country turned for worse since the 14th conference of the CITU as seen in the slowing GDP growth and industrial production and the free fall of the value of the rupee to more than 65 per US dollar. The core sectors of the industry like crude oil, natural gas, fertilisers, coal etc registered an absolute decline. Major automobile companies like Tata Motors, Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai etc were scaling down production. They were informally declaring shut down for some days in a week resulting in loss of wages for the workers. This impacted the downstream ancillary units which faced shut down again resulting in loss of work for thousands of workers. The working committee was informed that in Bengaluru alone around two lakh workers lost their jobs in the recent months as a result of the cutting down of production by companies.

The general secretary’s report expressed serious concern at the continuing crisis in agriculture on which even today around half of the country’s people depend for their livelihood. Around two thirds of the farmers do not have access to cheap institutional credit and were driven into the hands of usurious private money lenders. They were compelled to sell their produce at distress price immediately after the harvest. It was the hoarders cum money lenders who were actually reaping the benefits of the minimum support price. Major part of the agricultural credit is cornered by the corporate agribusiness and big landlords. Thus around three lakh farmers bound in debt trap were driven to suicides. The working class must stand by the farmers and help them get organised and fight for their rights and not take their lives.

The report ridiculed the poverty estimates of the government and asserted that if the original definition of poverty of 1979 was applied, more than 60% of the country’s population will be poor. The continuous campaigns and struggles by the Left parties and the trade unions have compelled the government to ultimately bring the food security bill to the parliament with some changes though it still falls far short in many respects. It excludes half of the urban population and 25% of the rural population. The demand of providing 35 kg of food grains at Rs 2 has not been accepted. The trade union movement must continue its fight for universalisation of PDS and real food security to all.

As the economic crisis gets intensified accompanied by the widening of the current account deficit, the government has become more desperate to further push the pro-imperialist, pro-corporate reforms through reckless deregulation, privatisation and liberalisation to attract foreign investment. Following the deregulation of the petroleum and diesel prices the government announced the deregulation of the price of natural gas. The natural gas produced in the country will now be priced as per the weighted average price of natural gas in the USA, UK and Japan without any reference to the actual cost of production in India. The government succumbed to the pressure of Reliance totally neglecting the huge burden this decision will impose on the power and fertiliser sectors, section of the steel producing units and the common consumers in general.

The government has also announced another round of disinvestment in almost all the highly profit making PSUs and Coal India, Indian Oil Corporation, NTPC, HAL, RINL, Neyveli Lignite etc. It was resorting to backdoor privatisation in the name of public private partnership in port and dock sector. It has raised the limits to FDI in several sectors, virtually removing the caps in defence production totally unconcerned about national security. It has decided to allow 100% FDI in the telecom sector, even after the exposure of the snooping by the US agencies through the electronic communication system. It has raised the FDI cap in insurance and other sectors. It had diluted the conditions for FDI in retail, as there was no response from the major foreign retailers.

More than Rs 5 lakhs crore worth concessions were being extended to the private corporate sector every year in the name of ‘revenue foregone’. In addition, Rs 4.83 lakh crores on account of corporate and income tax was lying unpaid. Despite such huge concessions, the share of private corporates in domestic investment has been consistently declining since 2008. It was hardly 29.8% in 2012 as per the current Economic Survey. This exposes the dubious role of the government in promoting loot and plunder of the people and the country’s resources by the corporates on the false pretext of attracting investment. This aspect of the neo-liberalism needs to be exposed among the workers and the people.


The report adopted by the CITU working committee also noted the increasing resistance by the workers against the attacks on their working conditions. Workers all over the country were coming into struggles in large numbers braving attacks including physical attacks by the police and the goons of the employers and victimisation.

The workers in the Jindal factory in Nasik who were suspended en masse for forming a union affiliated to the CITU were continuing their struggle. In Addock, a multinational drug company, the FMRAI led a struggle against mass retrenchment. The workers of Nokia Siemens in Tamil Nadu were on strike for more than two months demanding trade union rights braving threats of mass victimisation.

The brick kiln workers in Punjab and Haryana launched struggles and forced the owners to reach agreements on wage rise. The contract workers of Punjab Roadways went on strike for 48 days braving victimisation and attacks and emerged victorious. More than 4000 workers of the ‘108 ambulance services’ run by the GVK in Andhra Pradesh are on strike demanding wage rise, eight hours work and trade union rights.

All the 27,000 workers of Neyveli Lignite including 14,000 contract workers went on a 14 days strike against disinvestment. The united opposition of all trade unions to disinvestment forced the government to agree to sell the shares of Neyveli Lignite to state owned PSUs. In the face of the renewed efforts by the government to disinvest shares in Coal India, the coal workers have decided to go for a three days joint strike on September 23-25. The firm stand of the CITU affiliated All India Coal Workers’ Federation has helped in bringing the other trade unions for joint action.

The anganwadi employees, ASHAs, mid day meal workers have been continuously on the struggle path demanding their rights. Their militant struggles and the initiative of the CITU to bring into focus the exploitation of the around one crore ‘scheme workers’ by the government, has led to the inclusion of ‘the conditions of scheme workers’ as the first item in the agenda of the 45th session of the Indian Labour Conference. The ILC has recommended that the scheme workers should be recognised as workers, paid minimum wages and social security benefits. The working committee of the CITU directed all its state committees to consolidate the existing organisations of the scheme workers and take initiative to bring the other sections into the organisational fold as well.

Despite the prime ministers’ acknowledgment in the 45th session of the Indian Labour Conference that “the recent two days’ strike by the trade unions focussed on a number of issues relating to the welfare not only of the working classes but also the people at large” and that the demands include “some on which there can be no disagreement”, the government failed to take any concrete measure to meet these demands, even those which the prime minister said “were in advanced stage of consideration”. The working committee of the CITU fully endorsed the calls of the joint national convention of the trade unions held on August 6. It called upon all its state committees, affiliated unions and industrial federations to exert all their energies to ensure the success of the state level rallies on September 25 and the march to parliament and district level demonstrations on December 12. It emphasised that the CITU must take the campaign for these mobilisations to all the workers and go beyond the membership of the unions.


The working committee of the CITU also formulated certain concrete tasks related to the work among working women. These tasks for the CITU, at the national level, for its state committees and for the state coordination committees of working women, would guide the tenth national convention of working women to be held in Puri in Odisha from September 29 to October 1, 2013. The working committee decided to hold the meetings to concretise the CITU’s work on the specific issues of the tribals in Jamshedpur in the third week of October. A meeting on the work among multinational corporations and private organised sector industries would also be held in Hyderabad in October.

The working committee endorsed the recommendations of the joint workshop held recently on the demand to ‘Save ICDS’, at the initiative of the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers. The workshop in which the leadership of the workers’ organisations and the beneficiaries’ organisations including AIAWU, AIDWA and AIKS participated, decided to organise joint meetings of the state level leaders of all these organisations to create awareness on the need to save ICDS. These meetings will be followed by joint state and district level conventions and a signature campaign on a memorandum to the prime minister opposing privatisation of ICDS in any form and improving the conditions of the anganwadi employees. The working committee called upon all its state committees to take the initiative to ensure the success of this campaign which should pave the way for more such joint campaigns to develop a strong movement against the neo-liberal policies which has affected all sections of the people.

The working committee concluded that the present situation warrants much more combative struggles by the working class along with the people and that the CITU must take much bigger initiative at all levels to channelise people’s anger against the neo-liberal policies and against the politics behind these policies. The working committee asserted that ‘To translate these tasks into concrete reality, we must elevate our political ideological and organisational consciousness to a qualitatively higher plane at all levels of the organisation’.

The challenges before us are no doubt stupendous, but our ideology and its serious pursuit in the field of organisation, mobilisation and action is the greatest weapon at our command. We will overcome, we have to overcome’ declared the working committee and decided to dedicate itself to accomplish the tasks.

In his concluding remarks, Padmanabhan congratulated and thanked the Rajasthan state committee of the CITU for making excellent arrangements for the working committee meeting.

On the occasion of the working committee meeting, a well attended public meeting in which the workers from the industrial area surrounding the venue as well as workers from the other sectors participated, was held on August 26. Significantly the presidents of two major organisations of the toiling people, Padmanabhan, president of the CITU and Amra Ram, president of the AIKS addressed the meeting and called for strengthening the unity and united struggles of workers and peasants in the country. The public meeting was presided over by Ravindra Shukla and was also addressed by Tapan Sen, Hemalata, secretary of the CITU and BS Rana, general secretary of the Rajasthan state committee of the CITU.