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Monday, 22 July 2019 17:06

Homage to Comrade A K Roy

The Centre of Indian Unions (CITU) is extremely grieved and shocked at the demise of comrade A K Roy, the veteran leader of the working class movement and a stalwart of struggle of the downtrodden for justice. He was 81 and has long been suffering from age related diseases. 

Comrade A K Roy joined the trade union movement in his early youth sacrificing his career in those days as a qualified engineer. He was active in organizing workers and also distressed people  in newly emerging fertilizer industry in extreme backward region of the then Bihar, now in Jharkhand. He was also one of the pioneer organizers and architects  of coal workers movement from its private ownership days in Dhanbad, and Jharia. Comrade A k Roy was associated with CITU since its inception and had been one of the oldest general council members of CITU. He was elected in Lok Sabha three times from Dhanbad/Jharia area and had all along been vocal in support of the rights of the workers and most downtrodden inside the Parliament. His eventful life solely dedicated for the struggle of the working people will always be remembered. 

Com A K Roy's demise is great loss to the working class movement and CITU in particular. CITU expresses heartfelt condolence to his family members and comrades and offers its homage of respect to the memories and great contribution of the departed leader.

Red Salute to com A K Roy.  Com A K Roy Amar Rahe.  

Tapan Sen
General Secretary

Dear comrades, 

In Assam, 30 out of 33 districts are under floods. 36 people lost their lives and 54 lakh people are displaced. 90 percent of Kaziranga National Park is under water. Water level in Brahmaputra has been rising menacingly above the danger level across the state. Roads, bridges, culverts and many other infrastructures have been damaged at various places. 

Centre of Indian Trade Unions calls upon the working class in the country to stand in solidarity with the people of Assam, continuously facing devastation under floods. All possible supports and help must be extended to the flood victims. Assam State Committee of CITU is fully involved in rescue and relief operations.   

CITU  calls upon all state committees, federations and affiliated unions to  urgently raise funds and send immediately to the Assam state committee of CITU through money transfer to their bank account given below, positively with an intimation to the CITU Centre.

The details of the bank account of Assam state committee of CITU are as follows:

ASSAM STATE COMMITTEE OF CITU

Account Number: 0303010014036
UBI Branch ULUBARI
IFSC- UTBIOULU319

With greetings,

Yours comradely
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

CITU denounces the BJP Govt in a hurry to “pay-back” their corporate bosses through their hectic move of so called labour-law reforms which are all designed to replace the existing labour laws by four labour codes meticulously removing and/or grossly diluting all rights and provisions of protection for workers in the existing labour laws.

On Wednesday, 10th July 2019, the Union Labour Minister along with others has announced through Press Conference along with a PIB release that the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill 2019 has been cleared by the Union Cabinet. The Bill repealed 13 existing  Labour laws and selectively picked up the provisions advantageous to employers only from these Acts for incorporation of the Code Bill while grossly diluting and/or tampering all the provisions pertaining to rights and protection of the workers in general. Even on Health and Safety related matters, the Code has so articulated the provisions as the workers and their unions cannot assert their opinions and rights for proper enforcement or establish the accountability of the employers for violation of even the basic health and safety provisions  which is a common and daily  phenomenon in the workplaces across the sectors throughout the country leading to loss of lives and disabling injuries almost every day. Such a move on the part of the Govt, totally ignoring the vehement and concrete opposition of all the central trade unions against such anti-worker and pro-employer exercise is totally condemnable and must be opposed tooth and nail.

In the said Press Conference dated 10th July 2019, the Minister boastfully stated that the BJP Govt is magnanimous enough to clear the Code on Wages Bill 2019 and also decide a National Floor Level Minimum Wage of Rs 178/- per day (Rs 4628/- per month for 26 days) below which no state govt will be allowed to fix the minimum wage for workers. This announcement exposes the bluff by itself.   To compel the state govt in that regard there must be statutory arrangement and the Code on Wages Bill does not have such provision.

Secondly boasting of magnanimity the Govt in declaring floor level minimum wages at Rs 178/- per day (Rs 4628/- per month) is utterly shameless and ridiculous. Already in 31 locations of the country, states and union territory together, the existing minimum wage rates are way above Rs 178/-per day. This announcement of the Govt will directly provoke and inspire the concerned state govts and employers to further suppress the minimum wage to lower it to so called National Floor Level for EASE of LOOT by the employers 

The Govt did not bother to implement the concrete formulae of Minimum Wage (based on 2700 calorie intake etc) decided unanimously by 15th Indian Labour Conference along with the Supreme Court Judgment in the Raptakkos Brett case in 1992, which was again unanimously recommended by 44th Indian Labour Conference and unanimously reiterated by 45th and 46TH Indian Labour Conference (2014) in which Govt of India was a party. According to the said formulae, the Minimum Wage works out to Rs 18000/- per month (Rs 692.3 per day) as on 2016 as recommended by the 7th Pay Commission. Further the Labour Ministry headed by the same Labour Minister had appointed an Expert Committee in January 2018 to decide the Minimum Wage and its methodology. The said Expert Committee even after tampering the ILC recommendation of 2700 calorie intake to make it 2400 arbitrarily, and also calculating the food and other requirement on the basis of 2012 prices, did recommend a minimum wage ranging from Rs 375/- to Rs 447/- per day (Rs 9750/- to Rs 11,622 per month). But the red eyes of the employers/corporate lobby did not allow the so called magnanimous Govt to decide the floor level minimum wage as per the recommendation of its own Expert Committee and the servile Govt ended up with shameless announcement of Rs 178/- per day. This what is the real face of the so called inclusive development of all touted the BJP Govt in its second incarnation.

CITU condemns such anti-worker decision and move of the BJP Govt  on Minimum Wages and Labour Law Reform and calls upon the workers and their unions of all affiliations  to unitedly oppose and resist such disastrous move and prepare for countrywide united struggle in the days to come.

Issued by
(Tapan Sen )
General Secretary 

The  Union Budget 2019-20, presented by the Finance Minister, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman on behalf of the BJP Govt at the centre has turned out to be deceptive assurance for the mass of the people without any substantive provisions and a series of bonanza and giveaways for the corporates in various forms. If the policy-intentions of the Govt pronounced in the Economic Survey presented before Parliament on 4th July are taken into serious account, the budget proposals are in the same direction to achieve a single goal, to ensure bigger transfer of resources in favour of the rich and corporate extracting and looting more viciously from the mass of the common populace, the working people in particular, who are actually creating wealth from the country.

When the country’s economy has been seething in continuous slowdown in employment generating investments in real economy, unemployment rate consistently increasing reaching above 7.4% in June 2019, pushing the overall employment  level in the country to 45 years low, budget proposals has not bothered to address any of these basic problems in a substantive way except pronouncing  funny steps of setting up 80 Livelihood Business Incubators and 20 Technology Business Incubators to develop skilled entrepreneurs in agro-rural industries, which are actually envisaged to facilitate corporate entry and take-over of agriculture including land rights and destruction of petty production. In fact the Budget remained in a complete denial mode in addressing the agrarian crisis by way of augmenting public investment in agriculture and agricultural infrastructure, easy credit facility to small and marginal farmers and assured earning to agricultural workers.

The basic problem of squeezing size of the domestic markets because of declining consumption level owing to deepening impoverishment of the common people leading to cut in the existing capacity utilization in industries and services and fanning increasing losses in jobs and livelihood found no attention in the budget exercise at all. The Govt sought to assuage the people by announcing its target of making India a 5 trillion dollar economy in 2022 just like the prime Minister in its previous incarnation announced to double the income of the farmers by 2021, but the situation has gone just in the opposite direction provoking more crisis and increasing spate of farmers’ suicides.

The Budget sought to pretend taxing the rich more by enhancing surcharge on individual income from above 2.5 crore. But that has been more than neutralized and compensated by a sharp reduction in corporate tax to the tune of 10% for almost the entire corporate community by bringing 99.3% corporate entities to the minimum level of corporate tax of 25%(from 35%). This has been done despite the fact that it is this same private corporate community who are responsible for default in bank loans and also for organised pilferage from national exchequer by way of not paying their due taxes like income tax, corporate tax and other taxes, the amount of total default being Rs 7,35,000 crore at the time of previous budget.  The budget has not mentioned a single line as to how such legitimate dues in national exchequer can be recovered, rather mentioned a slew of arrangement  on simplifying tax procedure including assessment for “ease of living” for the tax payers, more so for the defaulters under their patronage. Side by side burden on people has been increased by increase in tax in petrol/diesel and other indirect taxes.

The budget pretends to give certain concessions in tax and interests in housing loan up to Rs 45 lakhs in the name of ensuring so called “affordable housing”. But this will be more beneficial to the large scale real estate businesses, which are in crisis than to the poor who really need affordable housing.   

The Budget announced more liberal entry of foreign capital/companies in all the crucial sectors of the national economy including in financial sector. While chanting the slogan of “Make in India” the Govt has already embarked on the path of destruction of indigenous manufacturing capabilities by way of liberalization of import in defence production, railway rolling stocks and other crucial areas besides resorting to mass scale outsourcing of production to private agencies including foreign companies starving the concerned PSUs, Ordnance Factories, Railway production units etc. the Budget will further speed up that destructive process.

Centre of Indian Trade Unions strongly denounce the destructive move of the Govt of India for privatization of Air India at any cost and by any means.

In its previous regime, the Modi Govt tried best to conclude the privatization deal, invited Expression of Interests (EoI) for the same from interested buyers but failed to get any response. And in its second incarnation, the BJP Govt is planning to sell Air India, piece by piece, i.e., by selling its profit making subsidiary units like Alliance Air, Air India Express, AITSL, AIESL etc., to facilitate cheaper sale of AIR INDIA to private corporate players, both foreign and domestic.

The privatization is being justified by the present Govt on the plea that Air India has become unsustainable owing to heavy loss and indebtedness. This is nothing but a bogus plea. The loss and debt burden of Air India had not been the result of imprudence or failure of the concerned management; it is the atrocious interference of successive ministries in compelling the Air India for unprepared merger and purchase of huge number of Aircrafts without due diligence benefitting the foreign suppliers, which had landed the National Carrier into loss and heavy indebtedness. But despite all problems and constraints, Air India has been able to come back to operating profit consistently during most of the years under last BJP Govt. It has never defaulted in servicing the huge debt burden on time with the banks unlike many major private corporate majors who are going to be the prospective buyers of dismantled Air India. 

The entire privatization exercise of Air India, if seen in details, as reported by national print media, exposes the dubiousness to serve the private corporates including foreign majors severely compromising the national interests. The national carrier is being sold in pieces viz., Air India, AI-Sat, AI-Express etc and around 50 per cent of the debt burden would remain with a Special Purpose Vehicle-AI Asset Holding, keeping noncore real estate with it. This SPV along with substantial debt burden will remain with the Govt. 

Destructive ploy to privatise the National Carrier in play in the name of “big bang reform” under the NDA-II regime has become clear—push the PSU into red by imposing wrong and sabotaging decision and then hand it over to private hand with its huge assets-which are all national assets.

CITU condemns such destructive decision of the BJP Govt to privatise the National Carrier, AIR INDIA and demands upon the Govt to restrain from such retrograde move. All the eight unions of Air India Employees under Joint Forum of Air India Against Privatisation have jointly conveyed their strong opposition to such privatization move to CMD, Air India on 12th June 2019 and have been preparing for united struggle. CITU calls upon working people and their unions irrespective of affiliations to unite and resist such destructive ploy of the Govt at the centre.

Issued by
(Tapan Sen)
General Secretary

Saturday, 22 June 2019 03:36

Stop Privatisation of Indian Railways

 

Centre of Indian Trade Unions opposes the privatisation measures incorporated in the 100 days Action Plan proposed by the Ministry of Railways with the approval of the Minister of Railways. The Railway Board has directed that immediate action to be taken to implement the Action Plan by 31st August 2019.

The Action Plan proposes operating private passenger trains. Within 100 days 2 passenger trains will be offered to IRCTC which would provide ticketing and on board services. These trains will run on the important routes like Golden Quadrilateral and Diagonals and connecting major cities. It is reported that the government wants to hand over running of premier trains including the Rajdhani and Shatabdi express trains to private operators, for which tenders would be floated within four months.

Hiking Railway fares is also on the cards. The government wants to reduce the subsidies through a ‘Give it up’ campaign. It is important to note that overwhelming majority of the railway passengers today belong to the poor and low income sections. Providing cheap and affordable travel is the Constitutional responsibility of the government. Reducing subsidies and raising fares is nothing but a ploy to favour the private operators who would be operating the trains only for profits. The government who has come to power with the votes of the common people and the poor, has, within less than a month started imposing burdens on the common people, just to pay back their bosses, the big Corporates, domestic and foreign. 

Another proposal in the Action Plan is the corporatisation of the production units. The 7 production units including the associated workshops are proposed to be ‘hived off’ to the ‘Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company’. This is nothing but an attempt to hand over and outsource production to the private players killing our public sector’s indigenous manufacturing capacity.

The proposal to consult the trade unions appears to be only an eye wash. Till today, the Modi government, in its earlier avatar as well as since it returned to power, has been blatantly ignoring the voices of the trade unions on many issues. In fact all the central trade unions have been consistently opposing privatisation of the public sector undertakings. But this government has already declared privatisation of 46 PSUs despite this opposition

CITU calls upon the people and all its affiliated unions and federations to oppose the privatisation of the cheapest mode of transport available today for the people and unitedly resist the move.

It also calls upon all the unions of the railway employees to strongly oppose the privatisation of Indian railways in any form and mobilise their entire strength through united actions to stop such disastrous measures

Issued by:
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

Wednesday, 19 June 2019 09:39

Homage to Comrade B Madhava

Centre of Indian Trade Union expresses its grief at the demise of Comrade B Madhava (83), former President Karnataka State Committee of CITU and also President of All India Beedi Workers’ Federation (AIBWF), who passed away today at Mangalore in the morning after a prolonged illness.

Comrade Madhava was an employee of LIC where he started his trade union activities.  He was President of Udipi Zone of AIIEA and also its South Zone Vice President. He was actively involved in organising the Beedi workers in the area and soon became the leader of the Beedi workers in Karnataka and became the State President of Beedi Workers Union.

He was the President CITU Karnataka State Committee from 2002 to 2010. He was a Working Committee Member of CITU.

Comrade Madhava was also active in fighting against social oppression and had actively led many movements in Mangalore including against the infamous ‘Madesnana’, the practice of making the lower caste people lay down on the remaining of food eaten by upper caste people.

He had in-depth knowledge and had translated many books from English to Kannada including the autobiography of A. K. Gopalan.

His death is a big loss to the CITU especially CITU Kartnataka and AIBWF.

CITU Secretariat expresses its deepest condolences to all his comrades and family members.

Issued by

Sd/- 
A R Sindhu
For CITU Secretariat 

The Centre of Indian Trade Union denounces the unilateral and arbitrary decision of the Govt of India to reduce rates of contribution to Employees State Insurance Scheme (ESI) in gross violation of the decision of the tripartite Governing Body of ESI.

In the 175th tripartite Governing Body meeting of ESI held on 18-09-2018, it was unanimously decided to reduce the employers’ contribution to ESI from 4.75% of the wages of the enrolled workers to 4% and the workers contribution from 1.75% to 1% making the total ESI contributions at 5% annually. Accordingly draft Gezette Notification was issued asking for opinion, if any, within 45 days. Simultaneously in the 177th  Governing Body meeting held on 19 February 2019 in the presence of  and under the Chairmanship of Union Labour Minister, ESI Budget for the coming financial year (1919-20) was finalized on the basis of this the contribution generation of 5%.

Now suddenly, after the new Govt assumed charge with the same Labour Minister, the Govt declared further deduction in ESI contribution to 3.25% (a deduction of 1.5% for the employers) while reducing the workers contribution to 0.75% further reducing the total contribution-generation to 4% in gross violation of the unanimous decision of the tripartite governing body.

In totality, the employers’ obligation towards ESI has been drastically reduced by 1.5% while reducing the workers contribution by only 1%. This would lead to huge benefits/savings of the employers to the tune of estimated Rs 8000 to Rs 10000 crore.

And ill motive of the Govt to benefit the employers’ lobby gets further clear by the fact that in the meeting of the tripartite Standing Committee of ESI Governing Body held on 13th June 2019, nothing was reported about the Govt decision on reduction of ESI contribution to be announced on same day evening 7-35 pm, and its arbitrary departure from the unanimous decision of the Governing Body of which Labour Minister was a party.

The increase of increase in enrollment in ESI as claimed by the Govt is due to upward revision of entitlement level from Rs.15000/ to Rs 21000/- from 1-1-2017 as decided by the Tripartite Governing Body. Reduction in ESI contribution mainly to benefit the employers/business class played no role in it. Rather this is going to create serious difficulty to meet its obligations of social security and medical benefit to the enhanced number of beneficiaries. 

CITU vehemently condemns such arbitrary move of the NDA-II Govt in the interest of the corporate lobby and demands implementation of the Governing Body decision on ESI contribution dated on 18-09-2018 in letter and spirit.

Tapan Sen
General Secretary

NITI Ayog has announced ‘big bang’ reform through anti-worker changes in labour laws and fast tracking privatisation or closure of 46 PSUs. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman of NITI Ayog has categorically told that “They (the foreign investors) will have reasons to be happy” and the government will “build an inventory of government land that can be offered to foreign investors”. We must read this statement along with the statement by the US private Corporates asking the new Indian government to have ‘bold reforms’ including change in land and labour laws and e-commerce.

There is clear indication to the working class and the toiling people of India that the Modi -02 Government is going to vigorously follow the same policies which were opposed by the working class and the peasantry of the country.

Changes in labour laws are meticulously designed to impose conditions of slavery on the working people. Similarly privatisation of CPSUs shall lead to looting of national assets by the Government’s most favoured corporates and destruction of indigenous manufacturing capability of the national economy and setting the pace of deindustrialization.

Modi govt's big bang reform will put the lives and livelihoods of the mass of the people in disaster- the same people who gave the Modi Government a decisive mandate. The mission of NDA-02 Government is pay back to the "DONORS" both in country and abròad while forcibly looting the "VOTERS" - the people at large.

The disastrous anti-people and anti-national move of the Government must be opposed with full might of the united struggle of the mass of the workers led by the United Platform of Central Trade Unions and National Federations.

CITU calls upon its affiliated unions and the working class of the country to be prepared for bigger struggles to defend the hard earned rights and the sovereignty of the country.

Issued by
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

BEGINNING on 30 May 2019, CITU is going for a year long celebration of “100 years of struggles and sacrifices” of the working class of India, since the formation of the First Trade Union Centre, and “50 years of fight for unity of the working class” since the formation of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions.

Following are historical milestones of these working class struggles and sacrifices, till the formation of CITU, for the class and people’s cause, class unity, and developing class perspective and orientation. From the lessons of these struggles emerged CITU’s clarion call of “Unity and Struggle”. How, as the legacy of these working class struggles and sacrifices, CITU carried these forward and created historical milestones are dealt with separately.

I
EMERGENCE of the first Trade Union Centre in India has its own background of working class struggles and sacrifices. Class struggle is inherent in the very nature of the capitalist mode of production, remaining dormant among the working class, sometimes spontaneously bursting out in the given situation. The trade union organises, builds movements and leads them in an objective direction.

- There were several strikes and agitations in the last quarter of the nineteenth and more than one and a half of the first decades of twentieth century. Those were led by workers agitationist groups, welfare centres and mass of workers as trade unions led by individuals and philanthropists. These unions had no regular membership, constitution, organizational set up etc like those of the modern trade unions.

- But this period was also marked by the political consciousness of the Indian working class, developed along with the freedom struggle. In July 1908, when Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak was convicted and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment on charges of ‘sedition’, “Bombay was shut down in protest,…workers of all textile mills and railway workshops went on strike, army was called out,…16 workers lay dead in the streets with nearly 50 others seriously injured,” wrote historian Bipan Chandra in India’s Struggle for Independence.

On this, BTR writes (The Marxist, October-December 1985), “The workers were being drawn into the national protest against British tyranny. This happened in 1908 when Lokmanya Tilak was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. The workers went on a one-day strike for every year of the sentence. They clashed with the police and the British army. Several were killed. Their resistance galvanised the entire city of Bombay and drew into action small businessmen and the middle classes. This was the first time that the working class used the powerful weapon strike in all industries for a political purpose and revealed its efficacy as the general mobiliser of the people.”

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