The New Year and the Struggles Ahead

The year 2013 has faded into history and it is the new dawn now!

For the working people of India, the year 2013 was a year of mass actions and struggles. The year began with the countrywide preparation for the historic 48 hour strike on 20th and 21st February. The strike, at the call of all the eleven central trade unions and national federations of various sections of employees and workers, was historic in its sweep and participation. More than 12 crore workers from almost all sectors of manufacturing, service etc. covering organized, unorganized and self employed sections participated in the massive strike action.

However, the approach and attitude of the Government at the center continued to remain the same as during the last 4 years of joint movement of all the central trade unions. But we all remember that there was a small difference. On the eve of the strike, exactly 28 hours before the commencement of the strike, a Group of Ministers, constituted by the Prime Minister had called the central T.U. leaders for a discussion!

The whole year has gone, without even a meaningful discussion on the Ten point Charter of Demands. These demands are the basic demands of the crores and crores of ordinary masses of the country. This was acknowledged even by the Prime Minister of the country. Dr. Manmohan Singh, while inaugurating the 45th Indian Labour Conference on 17th May 2013 said – “The recent two-day strike by trade unions focused on a number of issues relating to the welfare not only of the working class but also the people at large. These include demands on which there can be no disagreement. For example, demands for concrete measures for containing inflation, for generation of employment opportunities, for strict implementation of Labour Laws, are unexceptionable”. He also said “there can however be differences on the best ways of fulfilling these demands and we are willing to engage constructively with the trade unions in this regard”!

Before acknowledging the justness of the demands, PM had also claimed “our Government has paid very serious attention to the issues that Trade Unions have raised time to time”!

We need not go into further details. What has been the result of `constructive engagement’, and `serious attention’ of the Government on these `unexceptionable demands’ is well known.

On 22nd May, the Group of Ministers had asked for a month’s time for constructive discussion and we are still counting the days.

For a proper response

It was this attitude that forced the Central Trade Unions to continue the struggle and that phase has concluded with the massive March to Parliament on 12th December. The participation in the `March’ for exceeded the previous rally on 23rd February 2011. The anger among the workers was fully reflected in the rallies and court arrest programmes in September and the campaigns afterwards.

The year 2013 also witnessed militant and massive struggles of various sections of workers – men and women – on basic issues of livelihood. There was not any section of workers, who have not been in struggle during the year – strikes, demonstrations, rallies – at the work spot level, local, state and national level as well.

There were innumerable struggles of working women also, during the year. Anganwadi workers and helpers, ASHA workers, Midday Meal workers, Artisans and traditional workers, plantation and beedi workers, women in the service and financial sectors, government employees etc have all been on the streets. They not only conducted militant struggles at the state and national level on their own demands but have been a significant part of all the CITU and joint trade union actions.

These struggles created an impetus for the united movement as well.

It was this anger and protest against the callous attitude of the Government on the issues confronting the workers, that brought the lakhs of men and women to the capital, braving the most unpleasant weather conditions and arduous travel from different corners of the country. In addition, lakhs of workers participated in the district level rallies in various states on the same day.

The delegation of central T.U. leaders which met the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister, was not given any concrete assurance on the demands of the workers. But the unions told the Government, rather, gave a stern warning that – “the trade union movement cannot accept the present state of inaction and indifference on the pressing demands of the workers and people lying down and will heighten their united struggle in the face of continuing unresponsiveness”.

Now, it is for the unresponsive government to act. Otherwise the working people all over the country will have to give a fitting response to the ruling class.

Already, the people all over the country up in arms against the Government. In the recent state assembly elections, the main ruling party at the center, the Congress, has been punished by the people.

But the working people will have to be vigilant. The high decibel campaign let loose by the corporates, both Indian and Multinational, to project the leader of the highly divisive communal party, BJP, as the alternative has to be met with a people oriented campaign putting forward a set of alternate policies. The real character of the corporate led campaign has to be thoroughly exposed.

Our tasks ahead

The task in the New Year, which is going to be the year of General Elections, has to be this patriotic responsibility of mobilizing people for upholding pro-people policies. Along with the issue of economic policies, we have to mobilize people to safeguard the secular fabric of the country which is being challenged by various communal forces.

In addition to these, for members of CITU, the coming year has to be the year when we have to make all out efforts to fulfill the tasks finalized by our 14th All India Conference.

It is not necessary to go into those issues again. But, the tasks of increasing our membership, streamlining organizational activities at various levels of our organization, taking up issues of social oppression etc. have to be the priorities in the New Year.

Struggles on issues of unemployment, increasing disparities, denial of democratic rights and attacks on the livelihood of working people are finding more and more support all over the world. The machinations of the imperialists are increasing and at the same time they are under pressure from various sections.

The New Year will witness more and more struggles and it is for the working people of the country to be well prepared for that.

For the millions of members of CITU, it is time to be prepared to be in the forefront of all these struggles and to channelise them towards a massive peoples movement, by “Reaching the unreached” and “Intensifying class struggle for a change in the system!”

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