People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXVII

No. 44

November 03, 2013

 


MAHARASHTRA

 

Contract Workers Plan Long March

 

P R Krishnan

 

A CONVENTION of contract workers, held in Raigad district in Maharashtra on October 26, 2013, has decided to organise a Long March in the state in January next year. The long march is meant to popularise the 11 point charter of demands adopted by the said convention.

 

LONG MARCH

PLAN IN STATE

Held in the Multi Purpose Hall of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust Township in Raigad district, the participants of the convention comprised delegates chosen by different unions under the banner of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), spread over in all parts of Maharashtra. Presided over by CITU vice president K L Bajaj, the convention was inaugurated by CITU general secretary Tapan Sen. The CITUís Raigad district committee had made elaborate arrangements to organise this convention.

 

The total number of delegates who attended the convention came to 522, and significantly a large number of the delegates were women.. They had come from deferent industrial centres spread over 11 districts, viz Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad, Pune, Shindhu Durg, Nagpur, Satara, Thane, Sangali, Jalna and from the host district of Raigad.

 

The long march will take place after holding demonstrations at all the districts headquarters in the state on December 1, 2013. The long march will commence from all the districts in January 2014 and will culminate in a mass rally near the Martyrs Memorial (Hutatma Chauk) at Flora Fountain in Mumbai on January 15.

 

Raigad in Maharashtra is famous because it was in a fort in this predominantly agricultural district that King Shivaji Maharaj had set up an administrative centre, though it was Shivneri Fort in Pune which was the headquarters during the six years period of his rule from 1674 to 1680. In the recent period, this district has acquired significance because a new highly mechanised port has been built here which has acquired international importance in regard to shipping operations.   

 

The proceedings of the convention began with flag hoisting by K L Bajaj and floral tributes to martyrs. Madhusudan Mhatre, CITU district leader, started the proceedings. Bhooshan Patil, CITU state secretary, made the introductory remarks and explained the agenda before the convention.

 

Inaugurating the convention, Tapan Sen explained the various stages of the struggles and agitations conducted by the working class from the early nineties against the globalisation, liberalisation, contractisation and casualisation policies of the government. In this regard, Sen particularly mentioned the two nationwide industrial strikes of February 2012 and February 2013, organised unitedly by all the central trade union organisations including the INTUC and the BMS. Sen also took note of the fact that trade union organisations in Maharashtra had played a positive role in all these struggles. He then demanded that the UPA government at the centre and the Congress-NCP alliance government in Maharashtra should take note of the demands of this convention and should initiate immediate steps to implement them.

 

ANTI-HUMAN SYSTEM

BEING PERPETUATED

The main document before the convention was a resolution moved by the CITUís Maharashtra state general secretary Dr D L Karad. The resolution gave a graphic detail of the worsening problems of contract workers in various industries in Maharashtra. Dr Karad pointed out how the anti-social system of contract work has been perpetuated by the ruling classes even though the work done by contract workers in industrial establishments was of a perennial nature. He said that social benefits schemes like Provident Fund Act, Employees State Insurance Act, Bonus Act, Gratuity Act and even Minimum Wages Act are not being applied in case of the contract workers. He questioned why recruitment in the state and central government services has been stopped in spite of the growing unemployment among the youth in the country. The resolution gave examples of the large scale contract system in the post and telegraph department, the railways, ports and docks, banks, insurance companies, petroleum and gas industries, and many others. At the same time no recruitment is taking place though thousands of posts are lying vacant in these establishments.

 

The resolution also pointed out that no recruitments has been taking place over the last several years even in schools and colleges, in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), municipalities, zilla parishads, municipal corporations and in various public sector industries. This is despite a large number of posts lying vacant in these service sector establishments. Not only this, even in the organised sector industries as well as multinational companies a large number of contract workers are employed and they are required to do works of a permanent nature. The principle   of same wage for equal work is denied to the contract workers. Equal Remuneration Act as well as Rule 47 of Contract Act for same wage for similar work is also not being applied. The enforcement machineries of the state and central governments are in fact helping the employers instead of taking actions against them for violation of labour laws. This has to be stopped, stressed the resolution.

 

The resolution, at the same time, noted that wherever the contract workers are organised --- as in the RCF, BARC, JNPT, CEAT Tyre and Asian Paints etc --- they could gain substantial benefits and higher wages. This was possible because the contract workers in these establishments are organised under the banner of the CITU.

 

In his presidential address, K L Bajaj said that history is a testimony to the fact that the downtrodden remain exploited unless struggles take place. He described the conference as a signal to the governments that the slavery like contract work system is not going to be tolerated and that the CITU would continue its struggle against this evil system.  

 

Of the delegates, 16 spoke on the resolution.

 

State CITU leaders also addressed the delegates. Among them  were Udhav Bhavalkar (Aurangabad), Vasant Pawar (Pune), Amrut Meshram (Nagpur), Armaity Irani and P R Krishnan (Mumbai).

 

ILLEGAL

LOCKOUT

Before the commencement of the delegates session in the Township Hall, Tapan Sen addressed a separate meeting of the workmen of Dubai Port World who are facing an illegal lockout from October 13. This lockout has affected 300 workers who are employed by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) to handle different operations in its dock and port establishment. The management imposed this lockout when the workers demanded payment of wages and other service conditions as per an earlier settlement in that regard. Tapan Sen congratulated these workers and extended the CITUís full support to their struggle.

 

Madhusudan Mhatre proposed the vote of thanks.