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The Centre of Indian Trade Unions extends full support and solidarity to the three days’ strike on 23-25 January 2019 in all defence-production units and service centres by all the three employees’ federations representing employees working in the defence production units and service centres and workshops spread throughout the country.

The defence employees’ federations have jointly given the strike call to protest against and resist the most dangerous and disastrous move of the government of India to gradually dismantle the defence production network consisting of 42 Ordnance factories, DRDO, numerous Military Engineering Service (MES) Centres, Army Station Workshops etc through outsourcing more than 275 products so long being produced by the Ordnance factories in favour of private corporates, both foreign and domestic. This move of the government of India has already rendered half of the Ordnance Factories redundant, paving way for their closures or sell-out. Many defence procurement deals are also being hurriedly concluded or going to be concluded with foreign companies for supply of aircrafts, naval frigates etc giving rise to big scams and huge loss to the national exchequer.

In fact the entire defence procurement policy of the government of India is totally oriented towards destroying indigenous manufacturing capacity in the field of defence production developed during last seven decades under Ordnance Factories, DRDO and Defence-PSU network despite the fact that more than 75% of the requirements of country’s defence forces are being met indigenously as admitted by the Defence Ministry itself.  This is nothing but a grave conspiracy against the national security to make it perpetually dependent on the foreign multinational companies and simultaneously paving the way for destruction of indigenous manufacturing capability.

At the call of all the central trade unions in the country and federations, the working class have already observed two days countrywide general strike on 8-9 January 2019. They strongly opposed the anti-national policy of defence sector privatisation of the government.

The 3 days’ strike by the defence employees against such disastrous move of the BJP led government of India is a struggle also to defend the national interests and national security in particular. This struggle must have the support and solidarity from the entire people.

CITU, while denouncing the brazen anti-national policies of the Narendra Modi Govt calls upon the working people of all affiliations and the trade union movement in general to extend whole hearted support to the three days united strike by the defence employees and organise solidarity mobilisations countrywide on the strike days along with striking defence sector employees.                                                                                                   

(Tapan Sen)
General Secretary

Wednesday, 09 January 2019 15:05

Post General Strike THE TASK BEFORE US

The country has witnessed a massive two days countrywide general strike on 8-9 January 2019 by the working people against the anti-people, anti-worker and anti-national policies of the BJP-led Government of India. The general strike was called by all in the united platform of 10 central trade unions and almost all independent national federations. The strike by the working class had drawn countrywide support and solidarity, with various forms of protest actions, of the people of other walks of lives, the peasantry and agricultural workers in particular.

The general strike and the countrywide peoples’ massive response to it, demonstrated people’s loud disapproval to BJP government’s policy regime of loot, plunder and onslaught on the lives and livelihood of the toiling people at large; on the self-reliance and the national economy as a whole. It also reflected their anger against the poisonous, divisive and repressive machinations on the entire society by the ruling polity.

Culmination of Series of Agitations

The two days countrywide general strike, by the broadest ever united platform of the trade unions of the country and supported by the organizations of all sections of toiling people in the country, marks the convergence and culmination of last three and half years long consistent and continuous agitations and protest actions by the working class and toiling people at large against the same anti-people and anti-national policies of the Narendra Modi government at the centre. There had been agitations including strikes in various sectors at state and national levels. There were also struggles and strikes on common demands led by the central trade unions, jointly and separately.

This period has witnessed two countrywide general strikes, on 2 September in 2015 and in 2016, joined by over 15 crores workers, both from organized and unorganized sector. There had also been numerous agitations and strike actions in various sectors viz. banks, insurance, telecom, coal, steel, road transport, engineering, electricity, various PSUs, defence-production, central and state government employees; in number of multinational companies and in private sector industries. During this period, the workers in various central government schemes particularly by Anganwadi employees, ASHA and mid-day-meal workers etc had been on consistent struggles, both at national and state levels, including indefinite strike action in some states. Construction workers also resorted to number of agitations and also a massive strike at national level. Also notable had been the three days long Mahapadav before the Parliament in November 2017 with participation of at least 2.8 lakh workers in three days.

Number of such strikes, mostly in states, was for indefinite periods compelling the concerned state governments or authority to retreat and concede to the demands of the workers. Due to strike actions, the Government could not yet privatise any of the 10 PSUs including steel plants, BEML, Bridge and Roof, CEL and others which it had planned in 2014 itself.

The magnificent country wide general strike on 8-9 January 2019 reflected the tide of people’s anger against the anti worker, anti people and anti national neoliberal policies pursued by the BJP led government at the centre. It surpassed, in its sweep and depth, even the earlier two massive general strikes, on 2nd September 2015 and 2016 held during this Modi government’ rThe participation of workers in the general strike across sectors and the massive support and solidarity it received from all cross sections of people across the country indicate the growing resentment of people against the government. The national organisations of the peasants and agricultural workers, dalits, adivasis etc extended active support and called for a ‘grameen bandh’ bringing rural India to a standstill. The retired employees’ organisations also have actively campaigned for and supported the strike.            

Full reports of the strike have not been received. Below is the information as up to the afternoon of 9th January.

The strike in Assam was unprecedented. All the tea gardens were closed. Refineries were closed. Workers, both permanent and contract workers picketed and demonstrated outside several refineries. Workers along with fraternal mass organisations of peasants, agricultural workers, students, women etc held rail roko all over the state. Police arrested hundreds of activists including Tapan Sharma, general secretary of the state committee of CITU.

The strike received massive response from the working class in Bihar. Road transport was totally paralysed. Scheme workers, construction workers, beedi workers participated in the strike and held huge rallies in Samastipur, Khagaria, Darbhanga, Jamui, Begusarai and other districts. Roads were blocked in Samastipur, Katihar etc. The state bandh called by the Left parties in support of the strike, on the issues of peasants and agricultural workers and against the deteriorating law and order situation in the state, on 9th January was total.

The industrial workers and employees in NCR Delhi joined the strike in a big way. Only 5 workers joined duty in the public sector CEL. The industrial areas of Okhla 3 phases, Naraina, Mayapuri, Mongolpuri 2 phases, Udyognagar, Nangloi, Wazirpur, GT Karnal Road, Badlhi, Rajasthanpuri, Bhorgarh etc, were totally closed. Workers struck work and marched in processions which culminated in rallies in different industrial areas. Around 2000 to 3000 workers participated in each rally. Teachers and students of Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University joined the strike en masse. Universities were closed.

Gujarat, home state of Prime Minister Modi, witnessed such a joint strike of workers for the first time in many decades. The trade unions took up extensive joint campaign. Engineering workers in Baroda, Surat, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Junagarh, Ahmedabad, most of them not organised under any trade union joined the strike in large numbers. Despite the threats of victimisation from the BJP government in the state, anganwadi employees and ASHAs joined the strike and held massive demonstrations in most of the districts in the state. For the first time midday meal workers joined the strike. BMS campaigned extensively against the strike calling it a ‘political strike’. Despite this, anganwadi employees affiliated to the BMS union in 3 ICDS projects in the state joined the strike and also the demonstrations held on the occasion. Big rallies were held in 8 cities – Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Junagarh, Baroda, Anand and Palanpur. Around 3000 to 8000 workers participated in each.

The modern industrial area of Gurgaon in Haryana witnessed good response of the workers to the strike. Hero Honda declared 3 days’ holiday. Except Maruti, most of the big industries including Honda remained closed. Workers in all the smaller industries in the area struck work and joined rallies. A huge joint rally of industrial workers was held on 8th January. Workers in govt sector, roadways and unorganised sector like brick-kiln, forest, village chowkidar, construction etc joined the strike in a big way.

Strike in Rajasthan in different industries, both in organised and unorganised sector has been quite noticeable despite severe police repression on the striking workers in the MNC dominated industrial area in Neemrana. There have been numerous demonstrations and procession by the striking workers along with others throughout the state.

The scheme workers, MGNREGA workers, hydel project workers as well as industrial workers in Himachal Pradesh participated in the strike. Huge rallies with mostly women workers were held in several district headquarters.

Despite the difficult political situation in the state, unorganised sector workers and scheme workers participated in the strike in thousands in Jammu and Kashmir. Interstate bus services were off the road. A procession with the participation of scheme workers, railway contract workers, construction workers, coal mine workers, hydro project workers, vendors, middle class employees etc was held in Jammu. Protest demonstrations were held in almost all the districts in the Kashmir valley.

The industrial areas of Bokaro, Ranchi, Adityapur, Gamharia  in Jarkhand were almost closed due to the strike. Pharmaceutical industry was closed. Beedi workers and stone quarry workers in Pakur, Sahebganj and Chatra and Bauxite workers in Lohardaga were in total strike as were the workers in the copper mines and industry.

Over 30 lakh workers, including industrial workers, public sector, government, bank, insurance, BSNL etc employees, scheme workers and unorganised sector workers, participated in the strike in Karnataka. There was total strike in public road transport; autos were off the road in Bengaluru. All the permanent workers in multinational corporations Toyota Kirloskar, Volvo buses and trucks, Coca Cola etc and also in private sector major industries participated in the strike. Strike was total in the industrial areas of Bengaluru, Mysuru etc.

Despite the large scale disturbances sought to be created by the BJP against entry of women of all ages to the temple in Sabarimala, joint campaign was extensively conducted all over Kerala with an effort to reach every nook and corner of the state. Strike was total. Workers and members of other mass organisations picketed trains at 32 points. Train traffic was disrupted and several trains had to be cancelled. Trivandrum, Cochin and Kozhikode airport ground handling staff were on strike causing disruption of flights. Because of the campaign, people extended support to the strike. There were very few passengers in the buses and trains. Thousands of workers have gathered at the 483 strike centres which have been opened across the state. These centres were active for entire 48 hours duration of strike throughout day and night.

In addition to the total participation of anganwadi employees, ASHAs and midday meal workers in the strike in Madhya Pradesh, thousands of workers in private industries, particularly cement industry participate in the strike. Strike was total in all the cement units where CITU had affiliated unions. In addition it was near total in Hitech and 75% in Heavy Engineering Workers. Workers in the industrial clusters in Indore, Neemuch etc and the contract workers in NFIL joined the strike. Though most of the road transport workers are not organised under any trade union, the extensive campaign by the CITU state committee resulted in massive participation of road transport workers with transport being seriously affected in 22 districts in the state, where no passenger buses could run. In Bhopal, 70% of the buses could not operate and 80% of city buses were stopped in depots. Even under government pressure, only 15% - 20% buses were operated. Strike in the coal mines in the state was also massive.

In Chhattisgarh, Balco witnessed 95% strike, Hirry and Nandini Mines 90% and coal mines, more than 85% workers joined the strikeAnganwadi workers and mid-day-meal workers’ strike was to the tune of 60%, Participation of beedi workers, rice-mill workers, loading-unloading workers in the Mandis was above 60%. In the central govt offices, banks and insurances, strike was above 90%. In Bhilai steel Plant, strike was partial.

With the total participation of the transport workers in BEST (Bombay Electricity Supply and Transport) in the strike, bus services were off the road in Mumbai. There was total strike by workers in multinational companies like BOSCH, CEAT, Crompton, Samsonite etc. Thousands of permanent and contract workers of Reliance Industries also joined the strike. The industrial areas in Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Icchalkaranji were seriously affected due to the strike. Highways were blocked in many places. A massive rally planned jointly in Solapur could not be held as police denied permission because of Prime Minister’s visit to the city on that day.

Manipur bore a deserted look due to the massive strike. Vehicular traffic was totally stopped; educational institutions shut down and examinations were postponed. All the major markets were closed. Road blocks and demonstrations were held in many places.

There was a bandh like situation in Odisha. Road transport was totally off. Strike was 80% in cement and engineering industries. The strike in the public sector units like NALCO, Port and Dock and Indian Oil was over 80%. In the mining sector, strike is almost total.  Scheme workers totally participated in the strike. Unorganised sector workers held rasta roko and rail roko in several places. All political parties including the ruling BJD, except BJP supported the strike.

Strike was total among the PUNBUS employees and electricity employees in Punjab and Chandigarh. Workers in the industrial areas of Ludhiana including Hero cycles, the cement factories in Bathinda, industries in Amritsar went on strike. Contract employees in private hospitals were on strike throughout the state. Scheme workers joined the strike en masse and participated in thousands in the demonstrations, rallies and rasta roko across the state.

Strike in Tamil Nadu was immense. Pondicherry witnessed a total bandh like situation with all sectors being paralysed. Over 85% of the public sector Salem steel plant employees, 70% of the BHEL employees were on strike. Workers in Neyveli Lignite, Tuticorin port and Salem Chemplast also joined the strike. The textile industry including the cooperative spinning mills, power looms, NTC mills were affected. 50% of the workers in the engineering industry were on strike. Workers in Madras Export Processing Zone also went on strike. Manufacturing units in north and south Chennai were closed. Loading and unloading were stopped. Workers in several railway goods sheds were on strike. Majority of the total markets in the state witnessed total strike. 80% electricity employees were on strike. Bill collection was closed in 90% centres. There was total strike in Thiruvallur thermal plant. 85% autos were off the road. Tea, rubber and coffee plantation workers including those in big estates went on strike. Street vendors also joined. Many other industries including the famous knitwear industry in Tiruppur, chemical industry, Salt Corporation, Ashok Leyland, tanneries, Tasmac, sugar, etc witnessed massive strike. Scheme workers joined. Beedi factories in 67 villages and towns were closed. Crackers and construction workers were on strike. 80% of autos were off the road.

Over 21 lakh workers and employees in Telangana participated in the strike. Strike was total in the automobile manufacturing units and breweries and distilleries and 80% in the engineering units in the industrial areas in Hyderabad and surrounding districts. 90% of the contract workers in NTPC joined the strike. Over 65% scheme workers joined the strike despite the threats and intimidation by the TRS government and its administration.

In Agartala in Tripura, despite the use of force, BJP government could manage to get only 30% of the shops opened and around 30% of buses to operate. Almost same has been the situation in many other districts of the state.  Teachers attended schools but there were no students.

The main participants in the strike in Uttarakhand were the anganwadi employees and midday meal workers in addition to the government employees. In some places hotel workers, contract and outsourcing workers, work charged employees also participated. However, rallies were held in all the districts.

East India Pharmaceuticals, Britannia and other big industries in Kolkata were closed due to the strike in West Bengal. There was total strike in the jute mills with all except one being closed as well as in the engineering industry despite the terror by the Trinamool goons. There was no loading in trucks. Passenger and goods transport by in the state were practically out off roads. There was total strike in the industrial areas in 24 Paraganas, Hooghly, and Howrah. In tea garden workers in Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Dinajpur were on strike and participated in Rasta roko demonstrations.  There was good strike in coal and steel in the state. 60% of the permanent workers in Calcutta port were on strike. 70% of street vendors in Kolkata joined the strike. Universities and colleges remained closed with the lecturers and students joining the strike. Despite attack unleashed by Police and Trinamool Congress goons on the striking workers in the state, it was resisted by the workers along with democratic people from all walks of lives throughout the state heroically.    Police arrested hundreds of activists and leaders including Anadi Sahu, general secretary of the CITU state committee.

Participation of workers in the major industries in this strike all over the country was quite high compared to the earlier strikes.

The overall participation of strike in the coal industry was around 70%- 75%. Production and dispatch almost collapsed. Both permanent and contract workers joined the strike in almost all the big projects including the outsourced projects.

Thirty lakh electricity workers, employees and engineers in the power sector joined the strike across the country at the call of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers.

The strike in the oil sector was unprecedented, particularly in Assam. Employees in various refineries in Assam joined the strike and picketed offices. Oil workers of 3 out of the 4 unions in Kochi refinery joined the strike despite the management getting a court order banning the strike. Contract workers participated along with the permanent employees. Overall, strike in the petroleum sector has been substantive in the eastern, north-eastern and southern India while it was partial in western and northern part.

There was good strike in the steel industry with near total strike in Vizag steel, Salem steel and Bhadravati. In Rourkela steel permanent workers joined the strike and picketed the plant and strike was around 50% on the whole. Contract workers joined the strike en masse.  The strike in other steel plants viz., Bokaro, Bhilai and Durgapur was partial.

Strike was partial in the ports as some of the major unions did not join the strike in some of the major ports.  But cargo handling was affected in Paradip, Tuticorin, Kolkata, Haldia, Visakhapatnam and Cochin ports.

Road transport was highly affected creating a bandh like situation in many states in the country. An estimated 3.5 crore transport workers and small owners participated in the strike. The strike in the road transport sector was total with the participation of workers in public and private passenger and goods transport including autos in Kerala, Bihar, Odisha, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Strike was over 80% in West Bengal. Strike had serious impact in Punjab, several districts of Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand.

Construction workers participated in the strike in a big way as well as in the demonstrations in the entire country. Plantation workers, tea, coffee, rubber, joined the strike en masse in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and in large numbers in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

In addition to the industrial workers, the strike saw massive participation of employees in the service sectors also.

Women scheme workers in all states including where the trade union movement was weak, participated not only in the strike but in the demonstrations all over the country. They lent visibility to the strike even in places where no other trade union existed.

Strike among insurance employees was near total all over the country. Lakhs of bank employees including the officers in the Regional Rural Banks, Cooperative Banks, Reserve Bank and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) participated in the strike at the call of All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employees’ Federation of India (BEFI).

Around 13 lakh central government employees joined the strike across the country as per the call given by the Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers. The strike was total in the postal and income tax departments. In addition employees of Audit and Accounts, Civil Accounts, Atomic Energy, Geological Survey of India, Customs and Central Excise, Survey of India, Botanical Survey of India, Central Ground Water Board, Postal Accounts, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Printing and Stationery, Indian Bureau of Mines, AGMARK, Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), Medical Stores Depots, Film Division of India, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Central Food Processing Laboratory, Census Department, National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), Defence Accounts, Rehabilitation Department, Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Institute of Physics, LNCPE, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences, Canteen Employees, Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), Passport Department, and various other autonomous and scientific research institutes participated in the two days’ strike. The strike among central government employees was total in Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Assam and other North Eastern states including Tripura. In all other states 60%-80% employees participated in the strike.

State government employees in many states joined the strike in a big way. While the strike was 90% in Kerala, around 80% of state government employees in Haryana and several other states joined the strike. In Uttar Pradesh over 60% employees were on strike while it was 40% in Himachal Pradesh.

Strike in BSNL was total in Kerala, West Bengal and the north eastern states and partial in other states.

In many states retired employees, including EPS 95 pensioners extended solidarity and support to the strike by joining the demonstrations and rallies.

Huge demonstrations and rallies were held in all the states in the industrial centres and district headquarters with the participation of thousands of workers in each. Industrial workers, middle class employees, scheme workers and unorganised workers participated in these in large numbers. Thousands of workers were arrested across the country including in Assam, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal etc.

Particularly significant in the strike was the enormous solidarity and support extended by the various sections of people – the peasants, agricultural workers, women, youth and students etc. In addition, the organisations of tribals, dalits etc also supported the strike. Thousands of members of these organisations and their national and state leaders directly participated in the demonstrations, rallies, rasta roko and rail roko all over the country.

True to its commitment to the divisive ideology as a member of the sangh parivar, and ever loyal to its fraternal political wing the BJP, the BMS tried to confuse and divide the workers nursing illusions to weaken the strike. The BMS, which was involved in preparing the joint charter of demands of the central trade unions when it was part of the joint trade union movement, now finds the demands to be ‘political’. It had no problem in participating in struggles including strikes when the Congress led UPA government was in power. But, with the BJP in power, even when the government is fast carrying forward the anti worker amendment to the labour laws to trample labour rights underfoot, totally ignoring the suggestions of the central trade unions, neglecting the tripartite bodies, BMS strangely finds the government to be ‘positive’ to workers’ demands. It gathered a few breakaway groups of central trade unions and created a platform, opposed the strike and actively campaigned against the strike. But the working class of the country totally rejected its hypocritical manoeuvres. These attempts in fact boomeranged as the magnificent two days’ strike clearly showed the participation of their own ranks in the strike in several states.

What is required now is to take the struggle against the neoliberal policies forward and heighten and intensify it by strengthening the unity of the entire working class and the unity of the working class with the all the other sections of toiling masses. K Hemalata

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions congratulates and salutes the working class of India for their unprecedented active participation in the two days’ country wide general strike that started on 8th January 2019. Around 20 crore workers, from all sectors of the economy – organised sector, both public and private including in the Multinational companies, in the government and quasi government sectors, scheme workers, unorganised sector workers have reported to be participating in the strike across the country. The strike would continue on 9th January.

The workers’ strike has received tremendous support and solidarity from all sections of people. In almost all the states, peasants, agricultural workers, students, youth, women and others joined in processions and demonstrations in support of the strike. Rasta and rail rokos were held across the country severely affecting running of trains.

Bandh like situation prevailed in several states including Kerala, Assam, Odisha, several districts of Karnataka and the north-eastern states. Road transport was seriously affected in most of the states including Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand etc. In Madhya Pradesh road transport was seriously affected in 22 districts. Interstate buses could not run in Jammu and Kashmir due to the strike. In West Bengal, despite the terror by the Trinamool Congress workers, road transport, both passenger and goods, remained severely affected and several industries including jute and engineering industries remained closed. In Tripura all the pressure from the BJP led government and its party goons could not force open more than 30% of shops and run 30% of buses. In the tribal areas of Tripura there was total bandh.

The strike was highly visible in the industrial areas of NCR Delhi, 24 Paraganas, Hooghly and Howrah districts of West Bengal, in the oil refineries across Assam, in Pune, Nashik and Aurangabad industrial areas in Maharashtra, in the industrial areas in Bengaluru, Mysore etc in Karnataka, in Ludhiana in Punjab, in the Bokaro, Ranchi, Adityapur Gamharia industrial areas in Jharkhand, in the engineering clusters in Baroda, Surat, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Junagarh and Ahmedabad in Gujarat and the industrial clusters in Hyderabad and surrounding districts in Telengana etc. It was total in multinational companies like BOSCH, CEAT, Crompton, Samsonite in Maharashtra and in all the units of Volvo, Toyota and its subsidiaries in Karnataka. All over the country, workers struck work and marched in processions in thousands and held rallies and public meetings.

Strike was near total in the coal industry affecting production and dispatch. It was almost total in Vizag and Salem steel plants and also in all the iron-ore and coal mines under steel industry, around 50% in Rourkela steel Plant and Bhadravati, while partial in others steel plants. The participation of contract workers in most of the PSUs was total.

Electricity employees in many states joined the strike en masse. Though the railway employees did not join the strike, in several places they extended support. The railway contract workers and goods shed workers, safai karmacharis joined the strike in several states. 

The tea gardens in Assam, West Bengal and Kerala were totally closed due to the strike. Unorganised workers including beedi workers, construction workers, loading and unloading workers, shop employees, private hospital employees etc joined the strike in a big way in many states and organised Road –roko and Rail-roko in many places paralysing the normal traffic.

Scheme workers including anganwadi employees, ASHAs, midday meal workers and others joined the strike en masse across the country and participated in demonstrations.

Strike was total in insurance and BSNL and near total except in a few banks in the banking sectors. Central government employees participated in a massive manner in the strike, which was total among the postal and income tax departments. Atomic energy employees participated in a big way. It was total among medical representatives all over the country. In several states state government offices wore a deserted look due to the strike. In Tripura, though teachers were compelled to attend schools, there were no students.

In several states including West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand etc, police resorted to arrests. Thousands of CITU activists and  Left party leaders were arrested.

It is clear that the working class of India totally and unambiguously rejected the campaign led by the BMS against the strike. In several states and sectors, even members of BMS joined the strike.

The unprecedented expanse and the active participation of the workers in the two days’ strike is a clear indication of the extent of anger and resentment of the workers against the neoliberal policies and the attacks on their working and living conditions perpetrated by these policies. It is a reflection of their disillusionment and discontent against the BJP led Modi government which has hastened these policies for the benefit of the big corporates and business houses, both foreign and domestic, with least concern for the plight of the toiling people.

This strike is a clear warning from the working class and toiling people of India that they were not going to take lying down the attacks on their basic rights and living conditions. It is a strong warning that policies that mortgage the country to corporate interests will not be tolerated. It is also a strong rejection of the communal and divisive policies of the BJP and its mentor and guide the RSS to divert the attention of the people from their burning day to day issues.

The CITU extends its gratitude to the massive support and solidarity extended to the strike by various sections of the people including kisans, agricultural workers, adivasis, youth, students, women etc and their organisations.

CITU demands the government to immediately put on hold all the anti worker amendments to the labour laws and take immediate concrete action on all the demands raised by the joint trade union movement.

It calls upon the working class to further strengthen the unity at the grass root level and prepare for more intense struggles for the reversal of the neoliberal policies.

Issued by:

 

Tapan Sen

General Secretary

The entire trade union movement in the country have jointly given a call for two days countrywide general strike on 8-9 January 2019 against anti-labour, anti-people and anti-national policies of BJP-led NDA Government, from the National Convention of Workers held on 28th September 2018 at New Delhi.

The Ten Central Trade Unions, Independent Federations and Associations of various sectors have been consistently fighting against the policies of BJP-led NDA Government with two successful general strikes, one on 2nd September 2015, and then on 2nd September 2016. After that a three day Mahapadav on 9-10-11 November 2017 at Parliament was held with massive mobilisation of workers, followed by general strike by almost 80 lakhs of Anganwadi-Asha-Mid Day Meal Workers & other scheme workers on 17th January, 2018 for regularization and implementation of unanimous recommendations of 45th Indian Labour Conference to give them “Worker” status and social security, as well as satyagraha protest actions in January and February 2018 all over country were organised jointly by the unions in districts and state capitals. Besides these, in between, big agitations by sectoral unions at national and state level and the agitations by various sectors have been organised throughout this period.

The Central Government failed to respond, refused any dialogue, undermined tripartism, did not hold Indian Labour Conference for the last more than three and half years and instead, continued its aggressive attack with arrogance on the lives and livelihood of the working people. Desperate attempts are being made to make gross pro-employer changes in labour laws, both piecemeal and also hastening the codification of 44 central laws into four, totally ignoring the viewpoints of trade unions. An attempt is being made to usurp funds accumulated in various welfare boards, in the name of providing “universal Social Security”. Unilaterally and through arbitrary notification on fixed term employment through executive order on the one hand and through gradual replacement of workers by apprentices in various establishments on the other, the very concept of regular employment and job security  is being sought to be wiped out from the workplaces.    Now the cabinet has come out with amendments into the Trade Union Act, 1926 which are irrational, highly discretionary and extremely damaging to the independent functioning of unions. It is designed with the dubious intention to cripple unions, to promote pocket unions or tout unions.

At the same time, the  Govt policy of mass privatization of strategic PSUs, crucial infrastructure and public utilities, specially targeting the ports, airports,  telecom, financial sector etc, with defense production and railways thrown open for 100% FDI, is aimed at loot of the national assets and resources on the one hand and destruction of country’s economic base on the other.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) condemns the notification of Delhi government under order of the Lt. Governor imposing ESMA against Electricity Employees and Engineers in NCT Delhi from joining nationwide workers general strike on 8-9 January, 2019.

Lt. Governor issued this notification using Haryana ESMA, 1974 using Government of India’s Home Ministry’s GSR extending the same in Delhi. 

ESMA notice is issued selectively against joining the strike call of CITU even though it is the joint call of 10 central trade unions and most of the independent national federations of the workers and employees.

CITU also condemns intimidation by some state governments, including the Government of West Bengal and the Government of Tamilnadu, threatening termination of service, service break, 8 days wage cuts etc attacking on the Constitutional, Statutory and Democratic rights of the workers and employees.

CITU calls upon all sections of workers and employees, irrespective of affiliations, to join the nationwide workers general strike on 8-9 January, 2019 making it historic as a befitting reply to such attacks of the governments, administrations and managements.      

Issued by
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions denounced the unilateral move of the Govt of India to amend the Trade Union Act 1926 in the name of bringing about so called “transparency” and avoiding “duplicacy” as noted the press briefing by Union Cabinet.  

But the text of the amendment, as available with the Central Trade Unions reveals the dubious intent of the Govt to usurp wide discretionary power with the Govt in the matter of recognition to central trade unions in total departure from existing mutually agreed practices being followed for last couple of decades, based on which verification of membership of central trade unions have been conducted number of times during last three decades. All the ten central trade unions jointly conveyed their opposition to the said Bill and also conveyed specific suggestions for changes on 10th August 2018. But none of the suggestions of the central trade unions has been accepted.

Central Trade Unions are confederations of the enterprise based registered trade union entities, which represent the workers in various tripartite or bipartite forums. Definition of the Central Trade Unions or eligibility of being considered as Central Trade Unions had already been unanimously formulated in joint meeting of the Central Trade Unions and the Union Labour Ministry on the basis of a minimum membership (to be jointly decided from time to time by similar joint meeting between the CTUOs and the Ministry of Labour & Employment) and spread over in four states. The proposed Amendment Bill has not deliberately incorporated this unanimously agreed formulation being followed from the very beginning and instead proposed “as may be prescribed” thereby usurping discretionary power with the Govt in the matter of procedure of recognition of central trade unions. Instead of so called “transparency” the Govt has been trying to retain arbitrary power in their hands in order to interfere in the trade union functioning. Already the dubious intent of the Govt stood thoroughly exposed in the manner the Govt has arbitrarily debarred the biggest central trade union in the country, Indian National Trade Union Congress(INTUC) representation in the tripartite committees including the Indian Labour Conference. All the ten central trade unions in the country opposed such proposal of the Govt.

Secondly, while the BJP Govt has been showing keenness in re-writing the procedure of recognizing  central trade unions, they remain absolutely negative in making the employer mandatorily recognizing the trade unions at the enterprise level. As a result in many workplaces throughout the country, particularly in private sector, workers are being victimized only for forming their trade unions as had happened in Maruti-Suzuki in Manesar, Haryana and the latest of such incident has been in Yamaha in Tamilnadu. Numerous struggles are going on only on the demand of recognition of trade unions in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana, Rajasthan and other states. Existing law empowers the employer not to deal, if they like, with the trade union at the enterprise/workplace level, even if there is a single union. The entire trade union movement has been demanding since long the statutory provision of mandatory recognition of the trade unions at the enterprise level. But the proposed amendment bill totally ignored said long standing demands of the trade union movement thereby allowing their corporate masters to play ducks and drakes with the basic trade union rights of the workers.     

The proposed Trade Union (Amendment) Bill 2018 as cleared by the Cabinet of Narendra Modi is the  integral part of its package of so called “Labor Law Reforms” including the four code Bills repealing existing 44 labour laws, which is thoroughly designed with dubious articulation to impose conditions of slavery on the working people and totally abrogate trade union rights. All the trade unions in the country, barring the Govt-sponsored one led by RSS, rejected the proposed Bill with contempt it deserves and are determined to resist the pro-corporate changes in labour laws through united action.  The working people of the country are going to demonstrate their contempt through the forth coming countrywide two days general strike on 8-9 January 2019 in a massive way.

Issued by
( Tapan Sen )
General Secretary 

‘CONCENT’, the so called ‘Confederation of Central Trade Unions’, which is set to function from the BMS office, is nothing but a political instrument formed in a desperate attempt to manufacture consent to the anti worker policies of the BJP led government at the centre.

It is yet another attempt to disrupt the unity of the working class and the joint trade union movement, which the BMS deserted and got isolated after BJP, the political wing of the RSS, to which the BMS is affiliated, came to power at the centre in 2014. 

The discontent and anger of the working class was reflected in the recent period in the huge participation of workers from all over the country and from all sectors in the joint trade union ‘mahapadav’ in November 2017 and in the sectoral joint struggles that have been taking place in almost all sectors. Lakhs of workers, peasants and agricultural workers participated in the ‘Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally’ and vociferously demanded reversal of the neoliberal policies pursued by the BJP led Modi government. Tens of thousands of peasants participated in the Kisan Mukti March to the national capital, led by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, comprising over 200 peasant organisations across the country. The preparations for the 2 days’ joint trade union country wide general strike on 8-9 January 2019 are in full swing. The workers are all set to stage another historic general strike against the anti worker policies, the 18th after the advent of these policies in our country.

It is clear that not only the workers but also all sections of toiling people were angry at their deteriorating conditions. Employment, price rise and agrarian distress are major issues troubling the people. They want this BJP government, which was doggedly pursuing the anti people policies to go.

It is in this background that the BMS affiliated to the RSS, of which the BJP is the political arm, wanted to bail out the Modi government by creating confusion among the workers. Already such attempts are going on in various sectors. Recently it formed a so called ‘alliance of non political central trade unions’ by bringing together the breakaway groups and factions of a couple of central trade unions. A meeting of representatives of BMS, NFITU and the breakaway groups of INTUC and TUCC was held at BMS office on 8th December in which this so called confederation was formed. With the incumbent BMS president as chairman, this will function from the BMS office. They will draft a charter of demands, hold a ‘national conclave’ on 31st December and present the demands to the ‘group of ministers’ immediately for negotiations. Thus, this platform is claimed to give ‘solutions to the issues related to all Indian workers’.

It is to be recalled that BMS was part of the joint trade union movement which included all the central trade unions, since 2009. It was a party in drafting the common charter of demands of the joint trade union movement. It was part of the joint national conventions of workers held between 2009 and 2015 which gave unanimous calls for campaigns and struggles including jail bharo programmes and strikes. It participated in the two days’ strike in February 2013.

It had no problem in joining the joint trade union movement and participating in struggles on common demands as long as the Congress led UPA government was in power. But its discomfiture started when the BJP led government came to power in 2014. Even when it became clear that the BJP led Modi government was pursuing the same anti worker policies as the Congress led UPA government, it tried to postpone joint calls against by the central trade unions. Though it participated in the joint national convention of workers in May 2015, it backstabbed the joint trade union movement and withdrew from the country wide general strike on 2nd September 2015. This was done just a few days before the strike, after discussions with the ‘group of ministers’. Even when the government made no concrete assurance on any of the demands and all the other central trade unions decided to go on strike as decided earlier, the BMS announced that the ‘government was positive to the demands of trade unions’ and withdrew from the strike. Since then it has deserted the joint trade union movement. Obviously this was under instructions of its ‘political bosses’. Before the countrywide general strike on 2nd September 2016, the same ‘group of ministers’ constituted by the BJP government invited the BMS, which has not given any call for the strike and staged a show of having discussions; the government did not call the other central trade unions which called for the strike for discussions.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions extends full support and solidarity to the programme of indefinite strike by all employees and officers from 3rd December 2018 at the call of All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB) demanding wage revision of all which has fallen long overdue, allotment of 4G spectrum to BSNL, revsion of pension from 1-1-2017 and other demands.

The wage revision for employees and officers of BSNL is their existing right which is being sought to be taken away  and denied by the Govt on the plea of DPE recommendation which is totally untenable. In fact the concerned Minister has himself committed for commencement of wage negotiation for the employees and after commencement of negotiation and its progress, the Ministry went back from its commitment. Owing to dedicated services by employees and officers,  BSNL has been consistently earning operating profit in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 and the wage revision has fallen due for employees and officers since 1-1-2017.   Upward revision of pension has also fallen due from 1-1-2017 which follows from the revised wage pattern itself.

The BSNL employees also demanded allotment of 4G spectrum for BSNL which is being delayed deliberately by the Govt to allow advantage to the private telecom operators at the cost of BSNL. The Unions and Associations of BSNL have long been pursuing this demand which demonstrate their commitment to the company whereas dilly-dullying with this issue by Govt exposes their design of sabotaging the interests of the public sector BSNL in order to benefit the private telecom operators mostly run in partnership with foreign companies. While fighting for this demand, the employees and officers are upholding national interests which deserves support from all concerned.

CITU extends solidarity with the forthcoming united indefinite strike action by employees and officers of BSNL and calls upon trade union movement and workers of all affiliations to extend their support to the determined  struggles of the BSNL employees.

CITU also demands upon the Govt to see reasons and concede to the just demands of the employees and officers of BSNL who are actually contributors to BSNL’s earning operating profit during last four years, in the interests of all concerned.

Issued by
( Tapan Sen )
General Secretary 

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions condemns the desperate bid of the Govt of India to privatise Air India piece by piece in favour of the private corporate, foreign and domestic.

As reported in the press, the Govt has decided to go for strategic sale of 100% stake in Air India’s ground handling subsidiary, Air India Air Transport Services Ltd (AIATSL). The Govt has been pushing through privatization of this profit making subsidiary unit of Air India, which has earned a profit of Rs 334 million in 2016-17 with a revenue generation of Rs 6.2 billion. The Govt has embarked on privatizing its profit making subsidiary AIATSL after its hell-bent effort to privatise Air India as a whole failed to get any response. Similar move of privatization in respect of its other profit-making subsidiaries cannot be ruled out in the days to come, since the Govt of the day is desperate in outright sale of strategic public assets and infrastructures by any means and at any cost, totally unconcerned of its disastrous impact on national interests.

And same desperate move of the BJP Govt at the centre to transfer public assets and infrastructure to private hands on a platter is also revealed by the Govt’s move to privatise six major Airports of the country at Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvanantapuram and Mangaluru. All these airports were modernized with huge expenditure of hundreds of crores of rupees from national exchequer through Airport Authority of India. And now these modernized airports, all in the state capitals, are being sold out to private corporates empowering them with unfettered rights and authority also to utilize the huge land assets under these airports for commercial purposes including building hotels, shopping mall etc. It is nothing but a design of loot on the crucial infrastructure but also the exploitation of huge land assets at their disposal for private profit. 

CITU denounces such desperate move of the BJP Govt to sell out public assets and infrastructure on a platter to private entities particularly when it is having couple of months left for its present tenure. CITU asserts that such desperate bid of all out privatization of everything  by the BJP Govt in a hurry must be resisted and CITU calls upon the working class to unite and fight such anti-national move of sell out and privatization. CITU is confident the working class will give a befitting reply to such retrograde move of the Govt through massive countrywide general strike on 8-9 January 2019.   

Issued by
(Tapan Sen )
General Secretary

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