Current issues

Current issues (37)

Thursday, 02 October 2014 00:00

Workers Against Unemployment

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      1. International Day of Action – 3rd October

        World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), the only class oriented International Trade Union, has called upon the working people to observe its foundation day – 3rd October – as the International Day of Action. This year the call is to observe the day as a Day of struggle against unemployment.

        The slogans for the observance of the day, as finalized by the Presidential Council, in its meeting in Rome, in February 2014, are of crucial importance to every workers, in different parts of the world. “Fighting against unemployment and for dignified work, demanding protective measures for unemployed and also for permanent and stable work”. These slogans being raised in the present day situation of the world of work demands total involvement of the working people to make it people’s demand.

        Unemployment and under employment continues to be one of the most crucial issues confronting every section of working people – For those who are already employed and for those who are in search of a job.

        International Labour Organisation in its World of Work report 2014, pointed out that over the next five years, there will be an estimated 213 million new labour market entrants – 200 million in developed countries alone. The same report also underlines the critical aspect of youth unemployment as a serious offshoot of the crisis.

        As is well known, capitalist system exists on the basis of keeping a large chunk of job seekers as unemployed. With the crisis that broke open in 2007-08, situation has become grim. In every part of the world, unemployment has become the most serious issue confronting the society.

        As the General Secretary of WFTU, George Mavrikose pointed out in his report to the 16th Congress of WFTU - “the capitalist financial crisis, which unfolded in all developed capitalist countries has dramatically worsened the situation for the working class in all aspects of lives.” In his report to the Presidential Council in Rome, General Secretary noted that “Capitalism is condemning millions of workers to unemployment, poverty. The system is unable to meet even the basic needs of the people”.

        In the developed world

        Europe, which generally is bracketed with the developed world is witnessing massive protest actions against the policies of the ruling class. Unemployment continues to be a major issue. Unemployment figures, especially youth unemployment, are shooting up. It is 57% in Greece, 54 in Spain, 43.3 in Italy and 36.1 in Portugal. In the 34 countries coming under OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) there were 10.7 million unemployed youth in April this year. This is about 25% of the total unemployed in those countries, i.e. about 45 million registered unemployed are there in those 34 countries!

        This is how an Indian Financial Daily very recently noted on the situation in Europe – “In much of the Euro zone, the toxic combination of high public debt (it is over 100 percent in large parts of the region) and high unemployment persists”. They are sure that “there is little doubt that the euro zone is not emphatically out of crisis”. And so, the toxic situation prevails!

        Identical situation exists in USA. In an article published in Washington Post on 1st September in connection with the Labour Day in US, it is noted that “ever since the 2008-09 financial crisis, job market has been in a state of heart breaking weakness”. The article itself was titled “Workers at the mercy of Markets”. It quoted a poll by Gallup which said, “19 percent of workers still fear of being laid off”. Read with this, another report which said 62 per cent of Americans judged jobs `difficult to find’. A report by news agency Reuters on 5th September says that US job growth in August 2014 is weakest in 8 months.

        On the quality of jobs in USA, a report in Economic Times dated 8th September 2014 noted that unemployment rate has `fallen’ to 6.2% “but the experts are wary of the strength of US economy”. It noted that “participation rate of US labour has fallen to 62.9%, the lowest figure since 1980. The participation rate shows the share of working age population either employed or seeking job. The chief reason assigned to the drop of participation rate is lots of people who are jobless for 3-4 years have stopped searching jobs! A drop of work force saps the largest economy of the world of manpower needed to boost economic expansion”. In simple terms it means that in addition to those working and those searching for a job there are huge number of men and women who have stopped searching for a job, as it is “difficult to find”!

        Freelance Workers

        Here, we are not going into the problems of those who are working. Washington Post in an article on 1st September said that `Since late 2009, hourly earnings have risen at an annual rate of about 2 per cent, but when corrected to inflation, wage increase vanish’. They also say that `bargaining power has shifted to employers. With jobs scarce, workers just take what they get’. Washington Post also notes – “Companies have controlled costs through lay-off, skimpy wage increases and greater reliance on independent contractors, which often pay less and provide fewer fringe benefits’. American `experts’ have now started writing about freelance workers! – A worker who has no job security, no statutory benefits and who will work whenever, wherever he or she gets a job. A really free person at the mercy of the free market – the, liberated freelance worker’.

        Though all the above said are about the situation in USA, this applies to almost all countries under the capitalist system to-day.

        India to-day

        The census report of 2011, details of which were released in July 2014, says that the unemployment rate in the 25-29 age group was nearly 18 per cent and more than 20 per cent of Indians in the 15-24 age group were jobless and seeking work. Times of India on 2nd July 2014 reported that “the army of unemployed youth is staggeringly huge – around 4.7 crores of which 2.6 crore were men and 2.1 crore women”.

        Over all unemployment rate among the working age population in 15-59 age group was according to Times of India “a worrisome 14.5 per cent, including marginal workers seeking work. In the 25-29 age group, the unemployment rate was nearly 18 per cent. Even among those in 30-34 age group, nearly 6 per cent were unemployed, number over 1.2 crore”.

        As per reports, unemployment rate among the socially oppressed sections likes Dalits and Adivasis was higher with 18 per cent among Dalits and 19 per cent among adivasis in 15-59 age group.

        Lack of any worth mentioning Social Security Scheme in our country is exposed again when the Census report mentions that 18.5 lakhs persons of age over 80 years are still working and another 6.5 lakh octogenarians eke out a living as ill paid marginal workers.

        In absolute terms, 46.9 million of India’s youth, of whom much is being discussed nowadays, as demographic dividend to the country, were in search of jobs in 2011 compared with 33.5 million in 2001. This 46.9 million works out to 20 per cent of our youth population!

        Govt. and the unemployed

        As far as the Govt. of India is concerned, the only effort on job guarantee was on rural employment with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA). This was confined to `guaranteeing’ – a misnomer in practice – 100 days of work in rural areas. After almost a decade, the data shows that barely 9% house holds allotted work under the scheme have got work for 100 days! Now, the Modi Govt is after the scheme, by reducing the fund and trying to dilute the scheme in various methods. This so-called flagship scheme itself is facing serious threat.

        Vulnerable employment

        World of work report 2014 from ILO says that `more than half the workforce in developing world numbering 1.45 billion are in vulnerable employment and this presents a formidable challenge’.
        It is well known that the same is the situation in India, where the huge majority of workers are without a guaranteed income, social protection etc putting the future of the young generation in jeopardy. The latest NSSO (National Sample Survey Organization) report says that “68.8 per cent of workers across India in 2011-12, neither had a job contract or were eligible for paid leave, compared to 63 per cent in 2004-05”. The report also point out that “95 per cent of casual labourers are without any job contract”. This makes it clear that these workers, who are involved in asset building for the country, did not even exist in any records so as to get at least some statutory benefits!

        These facts are again confirmed by the World Bank’s World Development report 2014, which shows that “during 2001-10, people with a regular wage and salaries were only 17% of India’s total employed population”. World Bank also says that the so-called high growth years following 1990s “have failed to create jobs”.

        Planning Commission

        Recent analysis on the employment scene in India point out to the facts that even among professional people unemployment is increasing. Planning Commission, which will soon be extinct had said – “India needs to create 1 to 1.5 crore jobs per year for the next decade to provide gainful employment to its young population”. The Commission has also noted –“Large Indian business – both in the Public and Private Sector – have not generated significant employment in the past few decades and are unlikely to do so in the coming decade or two”. The Commission also noted that `Public Sector and Govt. employment has declined in the past few years’ and `large private sector firms have also been slow in generating employment which is unlikely to change due to increase in automation, digitalization and productivity gains!’

        Magic Wand!

        So, it is a vicious circle – no jobs and even and if there are we get only vulnerable jobs. And all the gains of productivity and profit to go to the corporates. It is in such a situation, World Bank, International investors and the Indian ruling class have found out that the only magic wand to increase employment is the labour reforms – immediately amending labour laws to take away almost 90% of the existing workers out of purview of labour legislations! Our Labour Minister told the Indian parliament recently that “World Bank suggested simplification and modernization of labour laws to encourage higher productivity and employment generation in India”.

        It is in this situation Indian workers should be shoulder to shoulder with the unemployed youth and also join their brothers and sisters all over the world, demanding employment and security of jobs.

        The demands raised by WFTU are demands of the huge majority of the world population. But, the efforts of attaining these demands will raise many questions about how and why of the present social set-up.

        Comrade B.T. Ranadive, founder President CITU, reminded us – “It is the law of the capitalist society that unemployment must increase, that there must be an army at the disposal of capitalists to keep down the wages of workers when the need for more labourers arises. In the competition all capitalists try to surpass their rivals to economise labour, use less labour and these lead to increased unemployment”.

        It is not the observance of a day or a protest week that is going to make a change. These issues need to be constantly taken up and people mobilized in support of the demand for job for all and make the right to work a fundamental right.

        Considering the basic character of capitalist state, this struggle for right to work and jobs for all has to be taken up as a struggle against the policies of the Govt. to be developed into a struggle for a change in the social set up!

        The mobilizations on 3rd October should reflect the reality of our arduous task before the Indian Working Class.

 - A.K. Padmanabhan

Friday, 29 August 2014 10:01

SC judgment on Coal Scam

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26TH August 2014

       

CORRUPTION IN-BUILT IN NEOLIBERALISM STANDS VINDICATED

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) welcomes the Supreme Court’s observation in declaring all coal-block allocations for captive use since 1993 illegal on ground of gross lack of transparency and fairness, exercise of arbitrariness and violation of guidelines causing huge loss to public exchequer as well as to the consumers both in industry and the common people.  In fact such irregularities and corruption being indulged since 1993 in coal-block allocations for captive use under almost all successive central governments since then vindicate the inbuilt corruption-prone character of the neoliberal policy trajectory; in fact, the legislation amending and/or diluting the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act to permit such allocation of coal blocks to specific industry for captive use has been proved to be self-defeating and opened the floodgate of rampant exercise of unfair arbitrariness and discretion in such allocations particularly to private sector giving rise to such huge scam. None of governments in the centre since 1993 can wash-off their hands from the responsibility of such scam and irregularities.

It should also be noted that out of 200 plus coal blocks allocated for captive use since 1993, hardly 30 blocks could be brought under operation during these long 21 years, which also comprehensively proved the total inefficacy and impracticability of the very scheme of such allocations for captive purpose, thereby warranting scrapping of the concerned enabling legislation.

Supreme Court will be considering the consequences of cancellation of coal block allocations for captive use because of the irregularities/illegalities involved, on September 1, 2014 as reported by the press.

In this context, CITU is of the considered and firm opinion that the allocated coal blocks should come back to Coal India Ltd, and Coal India should be empowered and strengthened with adequate financial, operational and functional autonomy to act as an only nodal agency to develop, mine, produce and deliver coal both to industries and the common people. CITU demands upon the Govt of India to ensure return of all the coal blocks to Coal India Ltd for further development, mining and production operation besides taking concrete steps to bring those responsible for the coal-gate scam and irregularities to book.

Issued by,


(TAPAN SEN)
General Secretary

29th August 2014

Dear Shri Ananth Kumar ji,

I request your urgent intervention in bringing about effective corrective action to the gross perversion created in the market of the essential and life savings drugs severely affecting the right to access to those essential and life saving drugs at affordable price for the mass of the common populace through the Drug Prices Control Order, 2013(DPCO, 2013),  introduced by the previous government. The DPCO 2013 brought 387 odd drugs under the price-control regime but simultaneously the basis of stipulation of the ceiling price was changed from the cost-based approach prevalent earlier to market-based average price regime thereby rendering the price-control meaningless rather deceptive. Moreover the manner, drugs have been listed under DPCO suffered from serious inadequacies in terms of coverage of the actual medicinal necessities/usage by the common people, defeating the very purpose of price-control of essential and life saving drugs for the benefit of common people. Therefore, the DPCO, 2013 needs a thorough overhauling both in respect of enlisting the essential drugs ensuring full coverage of the drugs needed and used as essential and life-saving and also in respect of basis of stipulation of celing price to be made on a cost-based approach.

The basic issues involved may be presented as following:    
1.     The previous UPA-II Govt. introduced a Drug Prices Control Order(DPCO), 2013 following direction of the Supreme Court. But Supreme Court never directed a switch-over from cost-based pricing to market-based average pricing for drugs listed in the control order.
2.    But the order departed from the policy so far followed  to determine ceiling prices of medicines from cost based regime to market based regime which is average of prices of brands of a particular medicine of all the brands sharing one per cent and above of the total sale. This resulted in increase in the prices of essential drugs, both within and outside control on the one hand and also phenomenal increase in the profit of the already high-profit-minting drug barons. Is that the purpose of the Drug Prices Control Order, 2013?
3.    This departure is unwarranted since nowhere in the world,  price control measures of medicines have been determined on the market based prices only.
4.    The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) was given the task of determining the ceiling price of all the medicines given in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) prepared in 2011.
5.    The UPA-II Govt. took decision of changing to market based pricing in their National Pharmaceutical policy, 2012 when amidst the cost based pricing system itself, the pharmaceutical industry had been earning large amount of profit and was growing by 15% annually. The decision was more to promote the profit of the drug-barons, both domestic and foreign, than giving relief to people in respect of their health-care needs.
6.    Moreover, drugs listed under DPCO, 2013  had covered only about 18% of the existing market of essential and life saving drugs, thereby leaving 82% of the drugs of regular necessity to Indian people out of any price-control.  According to NPPA’s calculation this became further less to 15% in the year 2013-14.
7.    As per NPPA’s own recorded observation, DPCO, 2013 covers very little in the important as well as regularly availed/used therapeutic segments like-antidiabetics (14%);antimalarials (12%); anti-infectives (37%); anti-TB (19%); blood related (01 %); cardiac (29 %);derma (10%);
gastrointestinal (15%); gynaec (14%); hepatoprotectives (00%); HIV/ AIDS related (27 %); hormones (44%); neuro/ CNS (18%); opthal/ otologicals (06%)/01%); ;pain/analgesics (10%); respiratory (06%); stomatologicals (00%); vitamins/ minerals/ nutrients (01%); vaccines (32%)
8.    This shows that the so called price control through DPCO, 2013 ultimately turned out to be a deception of common people, in reality, generous relief has been provided to the already high profit earning pharmaceutical companies including the multinational companies fleecing the mass of the common people, sometimes forcing them sell everything including themselves to survive from various ailments thrust upon them both by the society, environment and the nature.
 
You will definitely appreciate, such a situation must not continue and urgent measures are required to correct perversion created in the pricing of essential and life-saving drugs by DPCO, 2013. The pricing regime for the purpose of price control must be brought back to the cost-based regime and the list of drugs under control need to be thoroughly overhauled to include all drugs of essential necessity from all therapeutic segments. All the stakeholders including the consumers and the trade unions in the concerned sector should be consulted for the purpose.   

I request you to please appreciate the gravity of the issue and do the needful  in due consideration of the observations and suggestions given hereinabove.

With regards,
Yours sincerely,

( TAPAN SEN )
Shri Ananth Kumar
Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers
Govt of India
Shastri Bhawan
New Delhi

PRESS BRIEF
ON
 
MEET AND DISCUSSION OF SIX REPRESENTATIVE DELEGATION OF JOINT FORUM OF 21 – TEA TRADE UNION OF WEST BENGAL ACCOMPANIED BY TAPAN SEN, MP, RAJYA SABHA WITH SMT. NIRMALA SITARAMAN, HON’BLE MINISTER IN-CHARGE, COMMERCE & INDUSTRIES, GOVERNMENT OF INDIA AT UDYOG BHABAN ON 13TH AUGUST 2014 BY 1 PM
 
Discussed in detailed regarding –
 
Policy intervention on the issue of improving the present poor rates of wages in West Bengal and Assam Tea plantation.
 
Minister In-Charge will make necessary correspondences with the Governments of West Bengal and Assam so that the workers can get their justified basic rates and dearness allowances for leading decent lives. For that matter also she is going to meet all the stake holders on 8th September 2014 at Guwahati to take stocks and do whatever required.
 
Closed tea gardens’ issue was discussed for immediately bringing those in normal operations & save the workmens’ acute miseries including deaths on starvation.
 
She affirmed the delegation of taking necessary measures for saving the workmen & opening the closed gardens. But she informed that government of West Bengal has denied the problem of deaths on starvation etc.
 
On developmental matters pertaining to the regions of plantations were discussed particularly health, education and other basic infrastructures.
 
She requested the delegation to write her department on this vital aspect and her government will do whatever necessary for overall improvement of lives of the tea garden residents.
 
On the environmental and climate issues, the delegation brought the very features of indiscriminate mining and deforestation in Bhutan Himalayas and random use of chemicals in plantations.
 
Minister In-Charge took very interest and insight into the matter and requested the delegation to bring immediately this issue before Environment Ministry when she will also take it up in broader dimension of sustainability of the plantation and vital regions of the country.
 
The Minister – in – charge appreciated the delegation for working together and requested for keeping touch with her department on issues of concern.
 
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Ziaul Alam                                                 Mani KumarDarnal                                                      John Barla
 
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P.T. Sherpa                                                  Manohar Tirkey                                                         Saman Pathak

Resolution against Continuing Attacks on the People of West Bengal and in Solidarity to Struggles against such Attacks

 The General Council meeting of CITU being held on 11-14 July 2014 at Bellary, Karnataka expresses serious concern on the continuing phenomenon of severe attacks and intimidations  on our comrades and also con the common people  in West Bengal by the TMC led goons and antisocial elements since last 37 months since May 2011 and also in the run up to the election campaign and even after declaration of election results. During this period more than 157 Left and CITU activists were killed and the number is increasing every day.  Thousands were physically attacked and injured by the physical onslaught by the TMC goons with the police administration aiding and abetting such attacks and onslaughts. Even after declaration of election results on 16th May 2014 such attacks and intimidation have been continuing in full steam and 12 comrades including two women were murdered. Several thousands are ousted from their areas of work and residence. More than 15000 comrades and activists have been implicated in false cases and many of them were even jailed for months together having been booked on non-bailable cases. Molestation and rape of woman by TMC hoodlums have become almost a frequent happenings in the state. Latest has been the brutal rape of one anganwadi worker by TMC miscreant at Nadia district on 7th July 2014 and it is the same district where the TMC MP had given open threat to get women raped by his men a few days before such dastardly incident of rape.   The Police has been actively patronising such attacks shamelessly. After the declaration of election result, intensity of such attack has increased targeting the working people, both in towns and rural areas. Livelihood of the people are being attacked by way of ousting thousands of small farmers from their land;  evicting contract workers in thousands in several industries and replacing them with new set of workers with lower wages in connivance with the contractors; blockading functioning of numerous small cooperatives and self-help groups through terrorand violence; and even forcibly closing down small shops and similar small businesses through violence and extortions—all designed to maintain an atmosphere of terror and fear among the people at large and prevent any opposition to the reign of extortion and loot by the TMC goons with the active support of administration.  The main purpose behind such attack is to sustain an atmosphere of terror maiming all kinds of dissent and protest against such beastly misrule of the TMC Govt as well as the anti-social and anti-people activities of the miscreants under their shelter. And the basic aim is to marginalise and eliminate Left, it being the only potential opponent to the regime of loot and plunder under stewardship of thecorporates either through TMC in West Bengal or through BJP at the centre.

 The democratic right of holding meetings, rallies etc are being sought to be denied to the Left parties and even other trade unions and mass organisations. Also many non-political progressive organisations are being obstructed to have their activities involving mass of the public. Refusal of permission by the police administration to hold public meeting, even hall meetings and using mike throughout the state at the instigation of TMC has become almost a regular affair. Even labour department officials are being directed by the TMC Govt or their cohorts not to respond to the complaints or grievances raised by the trade unions and not even call conciliation meetings. Massive corruption, irregularities, nepotism, and anarchy in every segment of social life and governance being openly practiced by the TMC brigade is continuing and entire administration has been working overtime to ensure that nobody can raise their voice against such anarchy and hoodlumism. In fact total abrogation of all democratic rights of the people to collectively voice concerns and dissent had been the project of the ruling party in the state and that has gained momentum after the 16th Lok Sabha election. 

CITU and other mass organization of the Left parties have been bravely combating such situation while carrying on their organized opposition and protest against such anarchic regime and denial of democratic rights to common people by the TMC regime and their virtually lumpen-led administration. Other trade unions like HMS, AICCTU and INTUC etc are also joining protest against such attacks and onslaught on democratic rights.

The General Council meeting of CITU, while condemning such lumpen-raj in West Bengal, expresses full support and solidarity with the struggle by CITU, other mass organizations and the Left parties and  demands upon the state Govt in West Bengal to put a stop attack and onslaught on the Left parties, trade unions and mass organizations forthwith. CITU calls upon working people and trade unions all over the country to organize solidarity action and campaign against the ongoing brutalities by the fascistic lumpen-led TMC regime on the democratic people of West Bengal.   

Resolution on Union Budget 2014-15

The General Council meeting of CITU being held on 11-14 July 2014 at Bellary, Karnataka denounces the anti-people Budget (2014-15) of the Narendra Modi Government. The Union Budget (2014-15) is an exercise in piloting large scale FDI-PPP mode in the financial and policy governance of the country under BJP rule. It followed the same policy trajectory deregulation, privatization and corporate-orientation so long followed by its predecessor the UPA Govt which has been rejected by the people in election. And pursuit of these policies by UPA has landed the national economy in gloom with dwindling growth rate, continuing inflationary spiral and aggravating unemployment.  The Budget has set in motion the process of betrayal of the promise for “so called good days” made by Modi in his election campaign. The Finance Minister has said in his Budget speech, “ these are only the first steps and are directional.”

The Finance Minister, just three days before the presentation of his Budget spoke in Rajya Sabha on 7th July 2014 while replying to debate on “price rise” that any exercise in containing fiscal deficit through cutting down expenditure will lead to contraction of the economy in a situation of already dwindling growth rate of sub-5 per cent. He repeated the same statement orally in Lok Sabha while presenting the Budget. But while making high sounded commitment and promises for all round growth in his budget speech, in actual budgetary exercise, the Finance Minister meticulously practiced the same route of drastically cutting down central plan outlay on almost all heads impacting common people like Agriculture, rural development, Transport, General Economic Services and Social Services etc. The Ministries of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Human Resource Development and the Department of School Education and Literacy in particular and Women & Child Development also faced a drastic cut in allocation of funds. The share of SCs and STs in plan expenditure is kept far below (by Rs 47000 crore) the stipulation of planning commission guidelines based on proportion of population. Therefore, the first budget of the Modi Govt took off engineering a deceit on the people.

On the other hand, the Budget has launched onslaught against various flagship welfare schemes. MGNREGA is going to be immediate target of attack due to the policy pronouncement in the Budget that State Governments will have to spend two-third of the revenue transferred in ‘capital asset creation.’ Also a move is afoot to turn the right based employment guarantee legislation into just a welfare scheme with no guarantee in employment.

While engineering a drastic cut in expenditure on almost all heads impacting common people aimed at containing fiscal deficit, the budget remained reluctant in taking any action in arresting organized pilferage from public exchequer in the form of deliberate tax default by big corporate houses which reached a huge sum of Rs 4.18 lakh crore on account of corporate tax and income tax by the end of 2012-13 of which Rs 72901 crore is not under dispute. Rather the measures envisaged in the budgetary proposal to avoid dispute and litigation on tax claim are basically designed the defaulters a long hand to legitimize the default and pilferage from the public exchequer.

Added to this is the decision to constitute the Expenditure Management Commission to look into basically the subsidies for common people aiming at further deduction in the same. The Budget has already proposed a cut in subsidy on petroleum to the tune of Rs 22054 crore which would have a cascading effect on prices of all goods. And such cascading effect on prices of goods and services is going to be perpetual as the Budget announces total decontrol of diesel pricing before the end of current financial year.

Simultaneously, the budget reduced the direct tax leading to a revenue loss of Rs 22200 crore while increasing the indirect tax burden to the tune of Rs 7525 crore. And the manner the budgetary proposal extended liberalized concessions/reduction of customs and import duty on various heads, the additional revenue of Rs 7525 crore in indirect tax means a larger revenue on account of tax on domestic consumption goods to be borne by common people already reeling under continuing price-rise and mounting burden of unemployment and joblosses.  

The Budget has announced raising of FDI cap in defence and insurance sector from existing 26% to 49% musct to the detriment of the interests of national economy. The target for revenue from PSU divestment has been set at a huge amount of Rs.63,000 crore and the Finance Minister has announced that instead of earning dividend from PSUs they prefer divestment of Government equity in the PSUs. Number of measures have been incorporated in the Budget to actually weaken the public sector banks making them easy prey of privatization policy of the Government.

Budget while sounding high on promoting investment for boosting manufacturing sector, practically relied on good intention of the private investors through more liberal incentives and tax concessions. In an atmosphere of shrinking market and declining purchasing power of the people owing price-rise and industrial sickness, incentives and tax concessions cannot boost employment generating investment except causing revenue losses. Rather the measures announced in the budget for liberalization of tax regime on portfolio investment, transfer-pricing and mutual fund and steps envisaged for energizing capital market etc would attract flow of investment more towards speculative market than employment generating productive investment. That will definitely make the corporates and big business, both domestic and foreign, happier while common people will be left high and dry. 

In respect of almost all development expenditure including various infrastructural projects, the Budget relied more on PPP and FDI despite dismal performance and non-materialisation  of PPP during the previous regime. Rather, the Budget indicated further concessions/incentive to private players in the name of reducing rigidities and taking a more liberal approach.

On the whole, the first budget of the NDA Govt has basically turned out to be grossly anti-people in character promoting more aggressive loot by the corporate and big-business houses on the mass of the people. The General Council of CITU condemns such anti-people Budget and calls upon the working people and trade union movement to build united opposition to the said anti-people budget and related policies of deregulation, privatization for promoting corporate loot on the people.            

 

Resolution on Allocation under scheduled Castes Sub Plan

This meeting of the General Council of CITU being held in Bellary on 11 – 14 July 2014 strongly condemns the decline in the allocation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under the Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) in the Union Budget placed by the Finance Minister in the Parliament.

The SCSP, one of the most important budgetary issues for Dalits was initiated 35 years ago, became necessary as the SCs were continuously denied their adequate share of government funds essential to meet their needs and improve their conditions. It mandates setting aside a proportion of the total Plan outlay of the Centre and state governments equivalent to the proportion of the SCs at the national and state levels, exclusively for their development. According to the Census 2011, SC population comprises 16.6% of the total population.

However, the total plan allocation in this Budget has declined in real terms by around 4%. Moreover the total share of SCs and STs in the total plan expenditure is falling short by Rs 47000 crores and Rs 14000 crores according to the Planning Commission guidelines based on the proportion of the population. It is also a matter of serious concern that what is being allocated is also not being spent. While Rs 41561.13 crores was allocated for SCSP in the Budget 2013 – 14, according to the Revised Estimates only Rs 35800.6 crores have been spent. There have been several instances of SCSP funds being diverted to entirely different uses like construction of flyovers, Commonwealth Games etc. The Twelfth Five Year Plan document itself had to admit that ‘The expenditure in many states/ UTs was not even 50% of the allocated funds. No proper budget heads/ sub heads were created to prevent diversion of funds. There was no controlling and monitoring mechanisms’

In order to ensure effective implementation of the SCSP, there is an urgent need to enact a national legislation to provide statutory backing to the provisions of the SCSP.

This General Council meeting demands that the government of India should

  • Enact a legislation providing statutory status to SCSP in this Budget session itself
  • The government should allocate 16.6% of Plan Outlays for the SCSP
  • Take effective measures to ensure that the funds are spent for the development of Dalits and are not diverted for other purposes and also that the funds are spent in time and are not allowed to lapse. 

 Resolution on Israeli aggression on Palestine

The meeting of the General Council of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) at Bellary from 11th to 14th July expresses its anger and protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza. For more than one week Gaza is being bombarded by the Israeli armed forces killing more than 165 people including many children. The attacks are being targeted on the residential areas. Latest reports say that Israeli armed forces have begun invasion at ground level also and thousands are forced to flee. The whole region is under threat of escalation of war.

CITU condemns these attacks, which are in contravention of international lands. In the back ground of happenings in the middle-east region, these Zionist attacks by the closest ally of US imperialists will aggravate the situation.

The CITU demands the Govt. of India to condemn Israeli aggression on Palestine and take necessary steps to bring international pressure on aggressors.  CITU expresses solidarity with the people of Palestine and calls upon its affiliates and democratic movements to protest against the Zionist aggression.

24th June 2014

Communique from CITU Centre                                                                       

The first meeting between the union Labour Minister, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar with the central trade unions was held on 24th June 2014 at Shram Shakti Bhawan, New Delhi. The Minister of State for Labour, Shri Vishnudeo Sai along with Labour Secretary, Chief Labour Commissioner(central)Central Provident Fund Commissioner, Financial Commissioner, ESIC and other labour department officials were also present in the meeting.

Leadership of all the central trade unions spoke in on voice urging upon the Labour Minister for a directional change in approach and policy so that the legitimate interests of working people who produce wealth for the nation, resources for the exchequer and also profit for the employers are protected and taken care of and also the interests of the national economy and the national assets and resources are harnessed for the benefit of the majority of the populace. Trade unions conveyed their strong opposition to the policy of opening up all sectors to 100% FDI, reckless deregulation of strategic sectors and natural resources of the economy including the financial sector, aggressive disinvestment of PSUs and privatization of crucial public utility services etc. Resentment was also conveyed on the steep hike in railway fares and freight charges through executive order which would further aggravate the already rising prices of essential commodities. Central Trade Unions were represented by B N Rai and Shri Sharma (BMS), G Sanjeeva Reddy and Ashok Singh (INTUC), Amarjeet Kaur and D L Sachdeva (AITUC), Harbhajan Singh Sidhu and B D Nagpal (HMS), Tapan Sen and A K Padmanabhan (CITU), Krishna Chakraborty and R K Sharma (AIUTUC), S P Tewari (TUCC), Rajib Dimri and Santosh Roy (AICCTU), Abani Roy (UTUC), Monali (SEWA), S Sammughan (LPF) etc.

As opening comment, the Labour Secretary, Smt Gauri Kumar stressed upon strengthening tripartism as the most crucial instrument for addressing the problems of labour as well as maintaining industrial harmony and peace for facilitating productive growth of the economy on the path of employment generation. In response, the trade unions pointed out that for strengthening effective tripartism, the Govts, both at the centre and in the states must refrain from any kind of unilateralism and one-sided approach on matters involving and affecting the workers and employers must be made to implement all the labour laws in true spirit. Trade Unions pointed to the recent unilateral move by the state government in Rajasthan to amend vital labour laws in favour of the employers which was resolutely opposed by all the trade unions in the state. It was also pointed out that the central govt also has been taking hurried steps to push through major amendments to number of principal labour statutes viz., Factories Act, Minimum Wages Act and Child Labour Act etc affecting the workers.

The Central Trade Unions pointed out that if the spirit of tripartism is to be upheld and strengthened, then all the consensus recommendations of the highest tripartite forum in the country, the Indian Labour Conference must be implemented in letter and spirit. The successive sessions of Indian Labour Conference, viz., 42nd, 43rd, 44th and 45th sessions of ILC have drawn conclusions through consensus in respect of major issues pertaining the workers like upward revision of minimum wage, universal social security including pension, granting recognition as workers with attendant benefits of statutory wage and social security to the entire workforce in all central govt schemes viz., Anganwadi, mid-day-meal, ASHA, Sarv-siksha aviyan etc and same wage for same and similar work for contract workers etc. But nothing has been done by the Govt in this regard. This Govt must implement those consensus recommendations.

The trade unions urged upon the Minister to take serious note of the most volatile situation emerging at the workplaces throughout the country owing to mass scale violation of all basic labour laws and most ineffective, rather indulgent role of the enforcement machinery in favour of the law-violating employers’ class. In fact the law enforcement machinery of the labour department both in centres and the states are being deliberately and continuously weakened with huge vacancies of inspectors, other officials and even judges in labour courts piling up, to create ground for such non-enforcement-all aimed at the benefits of the employers class. The incidence of Maruti-Suzuki at Manesar, Haryana, virtual closure of Nokia plant at Tamilnadu, closure of Hind Motor, Jessop and Duckback and shut-downs in number of Jute Mills in West Bengal are the examples of such indulgence by administration to violation of labour laws on the one hand and outcome of the faulty policies of the Govt on the other. It is the basic duty of any Govt in a civilized society to ensure rule of law in workplaces instead of indulging in anarchy by the employers, the trade unions asserted.

The trade unions reiterated before the Labour Minister their ten point demands on which they have been agitating since last five years in various ways including strikes and urged upon the Govt to expeditiously act in sorting out those bottom-line demands, on many of which there had already been consensus in tripartite ILC. The trade unions also demanded immediate action on increasing the minimum pension to Rs1000/- under Employees’ Pension Scheme and raising the ceiling on provident Fund Scheme to Rs 15000/- on which decision had already been finalized by the previous government.

The Labour Minister while thanking the trade union representatives for the valuable inputs given by them on labour matters, assured that the Govt would accord due consideration to the demands of the trade unions. He also conveyed that on the issue of increase in minimum pension and also raising the ceiling on provident fund scheme to Rs 15000/-, decision will be taken by the Govt within two weeks time. Labour Minister also stated that his ministry’s priority will be to protect the interests of workers and he sought cooperation and help from all the central trade unions.

Tapan Sen

General Secretary

19th June 2014

Madam Gauri Kumar,
Secretary to Govt of India
Ministry of Labour & Employment
Shram Shakti Bhawan
Rafi Marg, New Delhi 110001

Sub: Proposals to amend the Factories Act 1948, Minimum Wages Act 1948 and Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act 1986 as circulated through your website inviting comments/observation in June 2014

Dear Madam,

In respect of above-referred subjects, following is our response:

No doubt, the issues under reference along with the tardy implementation of the concerned Acts along with other important Acts surfaced in discussion in various forums during last couple of years but it is somewhat unusual reflecting an undue haste, that proposals for amendments of these three Acts have been circulated almost one after another within a span of a fortnight in June 2014, even before formally consulting the central trade unions before giving the amendment proposals a final shape, as per usual practice.

Amendments to above Acts, you will appreciate, are going to have direct impact on the workers. Before going in for scrutinizing the proposals clause by clause, the issue itself needs to be discussed with the Central Trade unions -the main stakeholder representing those directly effected or affected by the such amendments to decide on issues and priorities of such amendment exercise.

There are number of incongruities/inconsistencies in the proposals for amendments which are required to be closely looked into. For example, amendment proposals on Minimum Wages Act 1948 finalised in late 2013 referred to the discussion in 40th Indian Labour Conference held in November 2005 but has not taken into account at all the consensus recommendation of the 44th Indian Labour Conference held on 14-15 February 2012 which laid down the basis of formulating the minimum wage level. There are other examples too.

However, CITU urges upon that, the entire issue including priorities of amendments to the said Acts should be discussed with the Central Trade Unions before finalization of the proposals of amendments and any step taken thereon.

With regards,
Yours sincerely,
General Secretary

 23rd June 2014


Dear Shri Narendra Modi Ji,

It is learnt from the press report that the Govt is considering increase in price of natural gas based on the exercises made in that regard by the previous Govt.  In this regard, I would like to bring to your notice certain facts and request you to exercise due diligence in the matter before taking any decision.

I had written several letters to your predecessor Prime Minister as well requesting not to allow such exercise of such huge price hike of natural gas based on a tailor-made formulae just to facilitate windfall gains for the contractor/s handling natural as well national resources. Natural gas is being produced domestically and must be priced based on cost plus reasonable returns on investment. Any other methodology of pricing having no relevance with the cost of production in the name of “market-determined” or “arm’s length basis”, tailor-made to benefit the contractor is bound to have perverse impact on the economy as well as people at large. I request to please consider this aspect seriously.  

During the UPA-II regime, the power and fertilizer ministries vehemently opposed the whole exercise for increasing the price of natural gas based on Rangarajan Committee recommendation on valid grounds.  They highlighted the huge subsidy burden on the Govt as a result of the proposed doubling of the gas price(from $4.2 to $8.4) as per the new formulae. The fertiliser ministry estimated that the additional subsidy requirement would be Rs.14,500 crore per annum from 2013-14 to 2016-17 and Rs. 19,000 crore from 2017-18 onwards (assuming Rs 60=1$ and increase from $4.2 to $8.4 per mmbtu). Similarly, the power ministry estimated that the impact would be Rs. 29,800 crore per annum, based on the requirement of existing plants and Rs. 46,360 crores, if one considered the capacity under construction as well. Thus the increased requirement of subsidy annually would be Rs. 44,860 crores on a conservative basis and Rs. 66,360 crores if all the new plants were commissioned. It should be noted that these numbers were mentioned in the Cabinet note itself.

And while the burden on the Govt and therefore on the people will increase phenomenally owing to the proposed doubling of the natural gas price, the contractor’s profit will also increase in a big way  thereby  making the whole exercise for pricing- a mechanism for a transfer from public to private kitty.  If we assume a very modest production of only 50 mmscmd, against the required production figure of 80 mmscmd, the calculations  show that the proposed increase in gas-price from $4.2 per mmbtu ($1=Rs60) will lead to an additional revenue of RIL to the tune of Rs18000 crore in one year or Rs90000 crore over a period of five years.

Is there any justification for such open loot of the country's natural resources by a private company? This additional profit will of course be obtained from the end users of gas, ie, users of fertilisers (i.e. the farmers of the country) and power consumers ( i.e. the common people of the country).

There has been an attempt to obfuscate the issue by projecting that the price increase would benefit the PSUs more than Reliance. This argument needs to be effectively rejected. There is no justification of benefitting even PSUs out of the way simultaneously imposing huge additional avoidable burden on the public exchequer. Moreover, ONGC and OIL are PSUs with a majority share of the government which also shoulders a part of the Govt’s burden on fuel subsidy. In fact there is a clear precedent for the same. Both ONGC and OIL are part of the revenue sharing arrangement to finance the fuel subsidy of the government. Thus even though crude prices of $110 per barrel are paid to both ONGC and OIL, these are only notional payments. The Government then takes a discount on prices, which is credited back to the government, from both these companies to fund the fuel subsidy for diesel, kerosene and LPG. After the discount, the prices that these companies actually get is in the order of $50-60 per barrel depending on their exact share. It is eminently plausible that the government will do the same for both its PSUs in respect of gas prices as well to fund the increased burden of subsidy.
                                    

Will RIL also be willing to hand over its humungous profits as a result of the price increase towards meeting the enhanced subsidy bill? Will the government levy a windfall tax on RIL to recover these super profits? If these steps are not possible, it is a complete fallacy to compare the situation of the PSUs to RIL.

I would also like to draw your attention to the unanimous recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance headed by Shri Yashwant Sinha, former MP representing BJP.


The important portions are produced below:

"The Committee believes that natural gas is a national resource and a public asset; and therefore any discourse on its pricing policy should reflect this principle so that it is used for the larger national good and not for profiteering."
"In the present economic situation with rampant inflation and a slowdown of the economy, any increase in gas prices will have a derailing effect on the economy generally and the downstream core sectors of fertilizer, power and steel, in particular."
"A scientific cost study in the gas basins warranting / justifying a higher price. It cannot be a mechanism only leading to windfall super-normal profits to entities, thereby putting the cost of private profit on society."
"The Committee are constrained to note that no due diligence was done before arriving at the decision to revise gas price. Neither was any cost or impact study done in this regard."
"In the light of the concerns enunciated above, the Committee would strongly recommend the Government to review forthwith its decision to raise gas prices and come out with fresh pricing which is more balanced and holistic and closely related to the audited cost of production and a reasonable return on the capital invested."

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petroleum & Natural Gas also recommended unanimously inter alia that, “ …the Rangarajan Committee formula for arriving at natural gas price should be thoroughly reviewed and reconsidered. The Committee recommend for factoring domestic cost of production of gas for arriving at the price and fixation of price of gas in rupee terms in PSC under NELP regime.”  

As you would kindly note that both the Parliamentary Committees have given an unequivocal report for reviewing the decision to increase gas prices and rejected the Rangarajan committee formula. I hope that this will also receive due consideration by you.

An impression was also sought to be created by the previous government that the price formula was fixed by a committee of experts led by Dr Rangarajan and could not therefore be questioned. But the very composition of the Committee itself evokes certain inescapable questions involving conflict of interest vis-à-vis the task undertaken. It is reported that one member of the Rangarajan Committee, is an associate of the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank funded by Reliance. Is this ethical? On this ground as well the matter needs fresh consideration by your government.

We would earnestly request you to take a fair and balanced view in the matter and protect national interest by ordering a thorough review of the proposed increase in natural gas prices.
With regards,  
Yours sincerely,
(TAPAN SEN )
            
Shri  Narendra Modi,
Prime Minister of India
South Block, New Delhi - 110001.

Copy to Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, Govt of India
Copy to Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Govt of India

13th June 2014

Dear Shri Chandrasekharan,
 
It is shocking that a grievous accident took place at Blast Furnace of  Bhilai Steel Plant on 12th night in which six employees including a DGM, an officer, three workers including a contract worker were reportedly  killed on the spot and around 32 employees got severely injured.
 
On behalf of CITU, I convey my sincere condolence to the bereaved family members of the deceased employees and their fellow workers and employees in the plant.
 
I am sure that the management is seized with proper treatment of those injured including the contract workers.
 
At the same time, you will please appreciate, the manner the accident took place warrants a serious review of the safety management situation including the preventive safety aspects in the process of operation.  I have been told that the departmental  safety committees have not yet been constituted in Bhilai Steel Plant, which I understand, is a statutory obligation of the management. I request you to please look into the matter and also institute an inquiry on the accident to find out the cause and anticidents.
 
I hope, as per established practice, the employees killed in the accident including the contract workers would be appropriately compensated and a nearest kin of them would be provided employment by the management. I also understand the management would take appropriate step to pay adequate compensation to those injured including the contract workers besides taking care of their medical treatment to bring them back to health and work.
 
I again join the Bhiali Steel collective in condoling the tragic death of our colleagues while in work and expect quick recovery of those injured and incapacitated. I also request you to strengthen the safety management with the active participation and involvement of the workers and their union to prevent recurrence of such tragedies in workplace.
 
With regards,
Yours sincerely,
 ( TAPAN SEN )
General Secretary
 
 
Shri S Chandrasekharan
CEO
Bhilai Steel Plant
Bhilai 490001, Chhattisgarh
12th June 2014
 
Dear Shri Pradhan Ji,
 
Hopefully, you are kindly aware of the fact that the State-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), with the approval of its Board of Directors, has approached the Delhi High Court complaining theft of natural gas from its Bay of Bengal block by the Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL). It is said that RIL is not only pumping gas from its own entitled field, but also from those of ONGC’s reservoir positioned much closed to the common boundary of the blocks in Krishna-Godavari basin to the tune of 18 billion cubic metres of natural gas worth Rs.30, 000 crore since 2009.
 
By analyzing relevant data & other materials, ONGC found that some of RIL’s wells drilled adjacent to the boundary block have been drawing gas from its (ONGC) field and hence chose to sue the RIL in order to protect its commercial interest and natural resources of the country.
 
This situation, as the petition indicated, would have been avoided, had the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) been vigilant while clearing RIL’s field development plan involving drilling of wells at the close proximity of nearly 50 to 350 metres from the common boundary of the blocks with ONGC. As per ONGC petition in the High Court, the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas and RIL did not adhere to the globally-accepted mechanism stipulated in the production-sharing contract signed by Ministry and RIL for block KG-DWN-98/3.
 
As per report in the print media, “Documents with The Indian Express show that the Exploration Division of the Ministry was regularly appraised of the joint meetings between RIL and ONGC conducted by DGH on sharing geological and geophysical data of their blocks KG-DWN-98/3, and G-4 Godavari and KG-DWN-98/2 blocks. DGH was regularly informing the Joint Secretary (Exploration) who is also on the Board of Directors on ONGC.”
 
ONGC had approached the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) long back with a request to share production and well data of KG-D6 field for analyzing if the reservoir of the neighbouring field has same and continuous gas pool. But, it has been pointed out that, “the watchdog failed to take steps to prevent such a situation, resulting in a loss of crores of rupees to ONGC.” On the other hand, it has also been alleged that the government had not followed the internationally accepted global norm for joint development that had been provided for in the Production Sharing Contract (PSC).
                                      
Under the circumstances there is strong reason to believe that ONGC has been rather forced to approach the Court of Law against RIL after failing to prevent the loss of huge revenue by resolving the issue amicably through every possible manners including intervention of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.  On the contrary in the absence of such step it would have amounted to grave omission on the part of the Maharatna Oil PSU to act to safeguard interest of the nation.
 
In the meantime, it is shocking to note that motivated interpretation of the whole episode is floated and wild allegations against ONGC are being hurled by vested interest with the intention to derail the whole rightful approach of ONGC.  I request you to please ensure that interest of the Government exchequer and commercial right of ONGC is fought at all cost and any motivated ploy by the vested interests is defeated.
 
Latest status of case may be shared please.
 
With regards,

Yours sincerely,
( TAPAN SEN )

Shri Dharmendra Pradhan,
Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas (Independent Charge)
Government of India,
Shastri Bhawan
New Delhi
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