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Joint Memorandum by Central Trade Unions - September 2019

The Government of India has been engaged in negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mega-regional Free Trade Agreement that includes East and South East Asian economies. The negotiations began in 2012 and there are systematic efforts being made to conclude the negotiations before the end of 2019. We, the undersigned central trade unions, are writing to express serious concerns on the implications of India’s joining this mega FTA for the people of our country, particularly for industrial, services and agricultural workers.

RCEP proposes to impose a tariff-free regime covering almost all industrial and agricultural products. This will enable manufacturing powerhouses such as China and Japan, as well as the dominant players in agricultural, dairy and plantation products such as Australia, New Zealand and several South East Asian countries to increase their stranglehold over the markets of RCEP members. Thus, India faces the threat of import surge if the RCEP negotiations go as planned. This would make domestic producers non-viable. India’s workers have already suffered heavily from trade liberalisation agreed to in the FTAs with under the ASEAN members, Korea and Japan, especially in sectors such as plantations, and those producing electrical and electronic products. The proposed tariff liberalization under RCEP is likely to adversely affect the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) quite considerably. This will have cascading effect on the large organised sector that is linked to MSMEs along the supply chain. In order to remain competitive and to keep businesses afloat, the burden of adjustment following trade liberalisation will be shifted to workers. To survive, industries will resort to greater informalisation, depress real wages, and remove social benefits. Employment intensive industries such as garments, leather, gems and jewellery have already been impacted through decline in production due to increased imports. Dairy, steel, electronics and appliances, copper, aluminum, pharmaceuticals, textiles and automobiles and auto parts are some of the industries expected to be adversely affected by this new round of liberalisation.

RCEP countries account for 61% of India's overall trade deficit, amounting to US$ 112 billion in 2018-19. Whereas India had initially announced that import duties on 42.5% products imported from China would be eliminated, India’s northern neighbour is demanding that India must remove import duties on 80-85% of imports. Should this happen, existence of a large share of India’s industry would be at risk, which turn will lead to job losses at unprecedented levels. With a trade deficit of $53 billion, China already accounts for nearly one-half of India’s total trade deficit even without an FTA. Several industries have already communicated their deep concerns about this impending threat.

Monday, 30 September 2019 10:55

NATIONAL OPEN MASS CONVENTION OF WORKERS

30th September 2019, Parliament Street, New Delhi

Declaration

The Modi-led BJP Government has completed its 100 days of its second term in Office. And the country and her people are facing a continuing economic slowdown, continuing job-losses, sky-rocketing unemployment, widening and deepening impoverishment, faster decline in average level of earnings, reckless privatisation and foreignisation of national productive assets, destruction of indigenous manufacturing capabilities leading to deindustrialization and abnormal rise of economic inequality in the society to an obscene level- mocking at the slogan of “sabka sath sabka vikash”. Now, with a greater arrogance, the same destructive economic policies targeting the democratic rights and livelihood of the mass of the people are being pursued, setting in motion further worsening of the situation.   And more undemocratically than ever before – be it the passing of Wage Code Bill, introduction of Code on Occupational Health, Safety and Working Conditions, amendment to the RTI Act to cripple it, amendment to Unlawful Activities Prevention Act to make it even more draconian and vindictive, abrogation of Article 370 without consulting people of J & K, in fact by gagging them, or rendering lakhs of people homeless/ stateless through the NRC process. Now many BJP ruled states have been advocating for NRC process to divide people on communal lines. This ongoing destructive process must be combated for the unity of the people.

Each and every demand in the 12-point charter, of the Central Trade Unions, independent federations and associations, supported by the Joint National Forums of Peasants’ Organizations and highlighted through various agitations with a continuity such as nation-wide strikes on 2nd September 2015  2nd September 2016, the three day Maha-padav, on 9--11th Nov, 2017  before the Parliament, the Nationwide strike by Scheme Workers on 17th January 2018, Satyagrah and protests in almost all the states on varying dates beginning from 23rd January to 23rd February 2018 and the two-days’ strike on 8-9 January, 2019,  adoption of ‘Workers’ Charter’ in a joint national convention of trade unions on 5th March on the eve of the general elections, have simply been ignored by the BJP Government. The budget presented on 5th July was out and out pro-corporate and anti-common people. The Government has announced its intention to introduce the remaining two Codes: Code on Social Security and the Code on Industrial Relations, all together aiming at imposing conditions of extreme exploitation of the working people.

The Central Govt. not only failed to respond to the genuine demands of the working people, but continued its brazen aggression against the rights of workers, in the interest of their Corporate masters. Bipartism and tripartism is given a go-by. Labour laws are being sought to be overhauled in favour of the employers’ class.  The BJP Govt. continues to vindictively deprive the biggest Central Trade Union in the country, the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) from all representations. No Indian Labour Conference has been held after July, 2015. Pre-budget consultations have become a sham.

Continuing phenomenon of alarmingly increasing unemployment along with joblosses across the sectors, declining GDP rates, increasing gap between the rich and the poor- all revealing a terminal slowdown in the national economy  are sought to be brushed under the carpet by fudging figures. The phenomenon of closure and shut-down of automobile industries and the ancillaries and the forecast of huge job-losses including in the IT sector is adding fuel to the fire. Price-rise of essential commodities including public transport, electricity, medicines etc is mounting miseries on daily lives of the people in general, both in urban and rural areas, leading to widening as well as deepening impoverishment. Drastic cut in Government expenditure in social sector and various welfare schemes has made the conditions of workers, particularly those in unorganized sector more precarious.

The National Open Mass Convention of Workers organized by the ten Central Trade Unions namely INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC, independent federations and associations of various sectors including some independent unions called for a nationwide General Strike on 8 January 2020 against the anti-worker anti people anti-national policies of the Modi-2 Government.
 
The national economy is slowing down. The adverse effects are already being felt by the workers in unorganised as well as organised sectors in the form of large scale retrenchment and closures. In the name of the recession, the Central Government is taking steps such as reducing corporate taxes, and giving them big bonanza to the tune of Rs.1.45 lakh crores from the national exchequer while not a single penny is spent to ensure job security or employment allowance to the workers. The government measures are supply-side, when all the economists are unanimous that the crisis is on the demand-side.
 
 
While the Central Trade Unions are jointly demanding a national minimum wage of Rs 21000/- pm, pension to all, scrapping of NPS and restoration of the old pension scheme, control on price rise in essential commodities and for universal public distribution system, demanding generation of new jobs and filling up of sanctioned posts, regularisation of Scheme Workers in Government posts, of contract workers working against regular posts, ensuring equal pay for equal work, strengthening of Welfare Boards for Unorganised Sector workers, increased budgetary provision for MNREGA and agriculture, that will put money in the hands of the toilers and give boost to the economy, the Central Government is pushing codification of Labour Laws, allowing Fixed Term Employment, privatisation of PSUs, allowing 100 percent FDI in railways, defence, coal and other sectors,  bank mergers and so on, that will lead to massive redundancies and extreme exploitation of workers. Now the Central Government has started reducing the contributions that the employers have to pay under the Provident Fund Act and the Employees State Insurance Act, justifying the move saying, this will increase the take-home pay of the workers. The Government openly states that these steps are being taken in the name of “ease of doing business”. The Government boasts that India’s ranking is going up in the World Bank Index of “Ease of doing business”. All this is being done at the expense of the working people.
 
The workers from all these sectors have repeatedly warned the Government against these retrograde steps, even by going on massive strikes.  The Government persists by using diversionary tactics of raising emotive non-issues to divide the people and haunt the minorities. The Convention pledged to fight theses communal and divisive forces.
The Convention has taken stock of these policies pursued by the Central Government and taken a decision to organise a country-wide strike on 8th January, 2020 in support of the above demands. An extensive campaign throughout the country will be carried out in the meantime, holding joint sectoral conventions, state-level conventions, going right down to factories and bastis to make the strike a grand success.
 
The convention was presided by Shyam Sunder Yadav(INTUC),Ramendra Kumar (AITUC) C A Rajasreedhar(HMS), Dr. K Hemalata (CITU), R K Parasar (AIUTUC),G R Shivshankar(TUCC), Lata (SEWA), Sarabjeet Singh (AICCTU), V Subbaraman(LPF)  Satrujit Singh(UTUC), and addressed by Ashok Singh (INTUC), Amarjeet Kaur(AITUC), Harbhajan Singh Siddu(HMS),  Tapan Sen(CITU), Shankar Saha( AIUTUC), G Devarajan (TUCC), Sonia(SEWA), Rajeev Dimri(AICCTU),  M Shanmugam,MP ( LPF) and N K Premachandran MP( UTUC)
 
Issued by 
A R Sindhu, 
Secretary CITU for 
 
        INTUC                     AITUC                    HMS                     CITU                       AIUTUC
          TUCC                SEWA                      AICCTU                     LPF                    UTUC

Sir/Madam,

National Platform of major central trade unions has decided to hold a National Open Mass convention of Workers on 30 September 2019, at Parliament Street, New Delhi to decide the future course of struggles against the aggressive onslaught of Modi -2 Government on the rights and livelihoods of the people in general and working class in particular pushing relentless privatization and bringing 100% FDI in the CPSEs including Railways, Defence and power sector, merger of banks doing away the rights of the workers earned through decades of struggles including the basic rights of eight hours working day and minimum wages through the labour codes in spite of the opposition.

The National Convention will declare various programmes of action including Nationwide General Strike.

The meeting will be attended by trade union leaders and activists from all over the country from both organised and unorganized sectors. The meeting will also be attended by leaders and cadres of independent National Federations of workers and employees from various sectors including State and Central Government employees, Bank, Insurance, Telecom, Railways, Defence, Electricity, Coal, Steel, Energy, Petroleum, Road transport, Air transport, Water transport, Port and Dock, Metal and Mining, IT etc.

The decision to hold the convention was decided in the meeting of Central Trade Unions- INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF held on 21st August 2019 at New Delhi.

Please attend personally or send your Reporter/Photographer/Crew to cover the event.

DATE AND TIME: 11.00 AM, 30 SEPTEMBER 2019
VENUE: PARLIAMENT STREET NEW DELHI

Issued by
A R Sindhu, Secretary, CITU (Mob. No.9968312406)

For
INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC, LPF

Tuesday, 24 September 2019 09:41

CITU Salutes The Coal Workers

Centre of Indian Trade Unions heartily congratulates and salutes the coal workers of the country for the historic total strike on 24th September 2019. The coal workers went on strike against the decision of the BJP government led by Modi to allow 100% FDI through the automatic route in extraction and sale of coal.

The BJP government has allowed 100% FDI in coal mining through the automatic route. The foreign companies can not only extract coal from our coal mines but also sell them at market prices including exporting it. The government allowed these profits to be siphoned off to their countries. By going on a total strike against this the coal workers have once again proved that it is they, as part of the working class, who are really determined to protect the interests of the nation. Through the strike they have expressed their strong patriotic feelings.

On the contrary the BJP, its government and its Prime Minister Modi have once again exposed that their topmost priority is to serve their corporate masters, domestic and foreign. Patriotism and nationalism for them are only rhetoric meant to fool the people. Despite the decision of the workers to go on strike, the government went ahead with issuing the notification.

Through their total strike opposing free entry to foreign companies not only to mine coal from our country’s coal mines but also to sell and export it at market price, not only pocket profits through such sales but also to siphon off these profits out of the country, the coal workers have proved that it is they, a part of the working class that is determined to protect the nation’s interests; that it is the working class which is patriotic.

It is to be recalled that around a century ago, 50000 workers passed a resolution calling for ‘swaraj’ in a meeting called by the first national trade union centre of the country, the All India Trade Union Congress in Jharia coal belt. Today lakhs of coal workers in around 600 mining establishments spread across 82 mining areas in the country had to go on strike to protect national interests and national sovereignty which the BJP government is determined to mortgage.

The united trade union movement has called an open mass convention on 30th September 2019 near Parliament to announce a struggle programme against such sell of the country’s natural resources, its public sector and attack workers’ basic rights and benefits to the profit greedy corporates.

CITU appeals to all the workers, irrespective of affiliations, to unitedly resist and defeat these anti national, anti people and anti worker policies of the BJP government led by Modi.

Issued by
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

CITU extends support to the two days' strike called by four federations of bank officers unions in all the banks of the country on 26-27 September 2019 against the destructive decision of the BJP Govt on merger of public sector banks and imposition of burden on the people through so called banking sector reforms. It is reported that unions of non officer  employees of public sector banks are also planning strike action in banks against the same destructive decisions of the BJP Govt on merger of banks and other reforms in the month of October. CITU extends wholehearted support to all those actions to defend and protect the public sector banking network of the country from the ongoing onslaughts of the BJP Govt-private corporates destructive nexus. CITU calls upon the working class to stand in solidarity to bank employees struggles.

Issued by:
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions denounces the utterly destructive decision of merging 10 public sector banks into 4 entities, thereby reducing the number of public sector banks to 12.

In fact, this disastrous exercise is meant for drastically squeezing the public sector banks’ operational areas through inevitable closure of huge number of bank-branches, severely affecting employment and also affecting the spread-over and availability of banking services to common people particularly in comparatively remote areas, besides further weakening the concerned PSBs. As a result, the private sector banks including foreign banks will get more open field for their business in the urban areas; and the vast rural areas will be left virtually without any banking services. Also the Govt’s own scheme of direct benefit transfer (DBT) on various welfare measures in the rural areas is destined to get squeezed and infractuous; it will virtually deprive the poor of their legitimate benefits owing to non-availability and/or decline of the bank branches in the rural vicinity.

The experience of previous cases of merger of banks established the inevitability of such disastrous consequences. After merger of 5 Associate Banks with State Bank of India, around 1000 branched had been closed. Merger of Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with Bank of Baroda is going to shut down around 800 more branches. A substantial section of those closed or going-to-be-closed branches are in the rural areas, where the private banks never tread even by mistake.

And such phenomenon of squeezing of operational area of banking services is also going to have damaging impact on channelizing  of savings of  common people through bank deposits, in the track of developmental activities/projects and employment generating commercial activities; rather this is going to be provocation and/or allurement  for diverting common peoples’ savings either to speculative market or towards dubious chit-fund instruments.

The merger of banks is being justified by the Govt on ground of strengthening and consolidating the concerned banks; but in reality such merger will further weaken all the banks post merger. Problems of public sector banks emanate from the deliberate default in loan-repayment by the big corporate houses and solution lies in stern action by the Govt for outright recovery of the huge loan amounts from defaulter corporates with penalty.  Instead, the Govt of the day is busy in legitimizing pilferage of bank money by the defaulter corporates through Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Procedure, forcing the public sector banks to sacrifice substantial portion their legitimate dues just to favour the defaulters. The Govt of the day is  actually engaged in destruction of the of the country’s financial service network which got widely expanded post nationalization of banks and insurance sector. This is detrimental to national interests.

CITU strongly condemns such destructive move and hails the proactive move of the United Forum of Bank Unions to launch immediate protest countrywide. They will definitely launch a bigger militant action to resist this destructive game plan of the Govt. CITU calls upon the working class also raise their voice of protest with active solidarity with the struggling bank employees.

(Tapan Sen )
General Secretary

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions denounces desperate move of the BJP Govt to completely privatise the National Carrier, Air India by way of divesting its entire shareholding in favour of a chosen single buyer in the “shortest possible time available” Obviously this is going to be a distress sale.

The desperateness of the Govt in a selling spree, of all national assets has arisen out of its failure to privatise Air India through sale of 76% Govt shareholding during its previous regime. And that is why the Govt has now decided to sell its hundred per cent stake while making other facilitating arrangements for the private player to take over Air India with its huge asset base. This is nothing but succumbing to the blackmailing by private corporate to make the deal more attractive.

The Air India is a debt ridden company and such huge burden of debt and consequent burden of loss due to interest payment had been the result of 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. Even then the Air India management has been able to come back to operating profit consistently during most of the years under last BJP Govt till 2018-19. 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 desperate bid to get rid of Air India by its owner Govt “within the shortest possible time” as asserted by the concerned Minister the Press Meet on 29thAugust 2019 is getting notoriously reflected in some of the steps of the Govt; almost half of the debt of Air India to the tune of Rs 29000 crore has been taken over  by the Govt and removed off the books of accounts of the company; a part of the dues of Air India towards fuel account is being planned to be met by the Govt through equity support. All these are being made to sell the National Carrier Air India “within shortest possible time available” as touted by the concerned Minister and as reported by the press.

Had the same facilities been made available to Air India, it would come back to profit “within shortest possible time available” and continue to contribute to national exchequer handsomely. But that is not the intention of the present BJP Govt engaged madly in a selling spree of national assets for private interest, both foreign and domestic.

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. CITU calls upon working people and their unions irrespective of affiliations to unite and resist such destructive ploy of the Govt at the centre. CITU calls upon working people and their unions irrespective of affiliations to unite and resist such destructive ploy of the Govt at the centre.

(Tapan Sen)
General Secretary

CITU DENOUNCES  CONSECUTIVE DESTRUCTIVE DECISIONS OF THE GOVT ON  DISINVESTMENT AND FDI LIBERALISATION RESULTING EROSION OF INDIGENOUS CAPABILITY AND ECONOMIC SOVEREIGNTY

During the span of last one week or so the BJP Govt at the centre has taken one after another destructive measures weakening further the foundation of the national economy which is already under severe crisis owing to same destructive and pro-imperialist policies of the Govt. 

The Govt got practically a forcible transfer of Rs 1.76 lakh crore from RBI kitty of reserve to itself to meet its revenue expenditure gap, which is economically imprudent besides being an onslaught on the  autonomy of the Institution through the obliging team of bureaucrats put at the helm of RBI Board.

Second, while lamenting on fiscal deficit, the Finance Minister announced a number of further concessions to business class by way of, inter alia, withdrawal of surcharge on direct  tax etc and liberalization of lending norms etc reportedly for further incentivizing them for investment. Such sops, at the cost of national exchequer are destined to fall flat; in fact, investment-growth has been consistently declining during the span of last five years’ of BJP rule despite showering of huge concessions on them every year through successive budgets and otherwise also.

Third, FDI has been further liberalized and clearance of FDI through automatic route has been recklessly  expanded covering all the strategic sectors of the economy, which will have more destructive impact on the economy instead of employment oriented investment generation. Rather such kind of FDI liberalization, particularly in present global economic scenario will further pounce upon the economic sovereignty of the country.

Hundred percent FDI in single-brand retail Trade was justified and sought to be sold by the previous BJP Govt front-lining the conditionality of 30 per cent sourcing of products from within India claiming to have promoted the domestic manufacturing. Now, that conditionality has been totally eased rather erased in favour of the foreign trading agencies leaving room for widespread evasion, at the cost of domestic retail trade. The 30% sourcing obligation can now be averaged over five years, opening the gate for evading the sourcing obligation for first three /four years and then change the sign-board of the company, a dubious practice  that has been continuing since long in almost all the special economic zones by the private business including foreign entities with impunity.

Allowing 100 percent FDI in coal-mining for all commercial purposes along with 100 percent FDI in contract manufacturing-all through automatic route, will be a severe blow to national coal miner-the Coal India Ltd which has been creditably performing by consistently improving its production performance despite many hurdles created by the Govt itself.  Earlier,  FDI was allowed only for captive mining only. Now that barrier has also been removed allowing the foreign companies to capture control over country’s coal resources for commercial mining including export.

This utterly retrograde move of the Govt on coal mining sector will deprive public sector Coal India Ltd of the level playing field in respect of allocation of new coal bearing areas as well as in cost of production. 100 percent foreign control of a substantial section of  country’s coal reserves with a right to export will also severely hamper the protection of national priorities in meeting increasing domestic requirement of coal both for household consumption and industrial requirement particularly in power, steel, fertilizers and other sectors. And under the present BJP regime, actively playing a partnership role of imperialist powers and always obliging international finance capital, it is but natural that Coal India will be discriminated in respect of allocation of new coal bearing area for mining vis-à-vis the private and foreign players.

Fourth, the Govt has declared its suicidal resolve to go for decisive privatization of CPSUs through multi-pronged routes. Besides strategic sale of major PSUs in steel, pharmaceutical , engineering and other sectors, aggressive steps have already been initiated to sell out around 60% or more Govt equity of CPSUs in the market. The notoriety of the exercise is that the control of a large number of PSUs with huge asset base and capacity shall be captured by the private players and concerned CPSUs will be effectively converted into private companies through very small dose of disinvestment. In order to realize the unprecedented divestment target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore, they have been dispensing with all norms and standing practices and resorting to suicidal shortcut.  The long selloff list reported in the media include all best performers in the strategic sectors – both physically and financially viz., IOC, NTPC, Powergrid, Oil India, GAIL, NALCO, BPCL, EIL, BEML etc. As a consequence of previous tranches of divestment the present Govt equity holding of these CPSUs are around 52% plus or little less. Therefore the ugly game plan is convert these CPSUs into private enterprises only by way of transfer of very small dose of shares to private hands. Country’s wealth will be transferred for private gains on a platter.

In the background of severe crisis in the economy, deepening every day, these moves of the Govt reflects the desperation to benefit only and only the private corporate, both foreign and domestic at the cost of such assets and production structures through a deliberate destructive process.

CITU calls upon the working people and patriotic masses at large from all walks of life to raise their voice of protest against such destructive suicidal onslaught of the Govt of the day on the national economy. CITU also calls upon the working class, particularly those in the concerned sectors which are under immediate attack to unite and fight back these nefarious and anti-people designs and frontal attack on the economic sovereignty of the country.

Issued by
(Tapan Sen)
General Secretary 

The news of the seamen's union of CITU--FSUI joining Shiv Sena is totally false and fake

The Hindustan Times (Mumbai) dated 25.8.2019 published a news that Forward Seamen's Union of India (FSUI) has joined Shiv Sena. This news is totally baseless and fake, spread with a malicious intent to confuse and misguide the seamen community.

The Forward Seamen's Union of India, registered under Trade Union Act 1926, with the registration no 9442, having its registered office and headquarters at Kolkata is affiliated to Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) since the foundation of CITU 

Those who joined Shiv Sena for their own interest as per the news item in Hindustan Times are using the name of FSUI with a dubious intent. They have no organizational authority of taking any such decision on behalf of FSUI. 

CITU calls upon all the general members of FSUI and the seafarers in general not to get confused and misguided and remain united under the banner of FSUI and CITU.

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