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Shri Oscar Fernandes,
Minister for Labour and Employment,
Govt. of India, New Delhi

Dear Shri Oscar Fernandes ji,

    It is reported in the print media that Govt. of India has directed EPFO, to amend the circular of Central Provident Fund Commissioner, dated 30th November 2012  which relates to, inter alia, definition of wages for the purpose of PF contribution.  I register my strongest protest over this decision of Govt. of India, which would reduce the PF related obligation of the employers at the huge cost of the workers- who are EPF subscribers.  

    After the circular was issued by the then CPFC Shri R.C. Mishra, it was put in abeyance.  A tripartite working group was formed to “examine various aspects of the circular” which had  CBT members representing employers and workers and also higher officials of EPFO.  I was also a member of the working group.     The unanimous decisions of the working group upholding the content of the EPFO Circular was finalized on 29th March 2013  and sent to Govt. Now after passage of more than one year the unanimous recommendation of the Working Group is nullified  and  the most important portion of this circular  is being now done away with by the Govt to benefit the employers class at the cost of workers.

    The most important part of the circular was on definition of wages.  It has been our experience that wages are split in several heads to keep basic pay low to evade PF contributions, by the employers.  The circular had clearly noted “the subterfuge of splitting wages to exclude PF liabilities”.     To my knowledge, after the then CPFC Shri R.C. Mishra, two successor CPFCs had also endorsed the circular as was unanimously recommended by the working group.

        I would also like to point out that this is happening in the background of two other important decisions – enhancing the minimum pension to Rs.1000 and increasing the wage ceiling for eligibility for PF enrolment to Rs.15,000 from Rs.6500 lying unimplemented, again to favour the same employers’ class at the cost of workers.  

    These decisions were taken by Central Board of Trustees under your Chairmanship only after the concurrence of the Finance Ministry. You and your colleagues had claimed that the Govt. wants to accept the long pending demands of workers.  It was also reported widely that cabinet had approved these proposals.

    Taken together, all these issues connected with the EPFO are being acted upon in such a way that legitimate dues to the workers are being denied while the employers being unduely favoured.

    I urge upon you that the Circular of EPFO as unanimously upheld by the Working Group of CBT be implemented forthwith. I also demand that the decisions on enhancement of Minimum Pension under EPS, 1995 and enhancement of wage-ceiling be implemented with effect from 01-04-2014 as already announced and propagated by the Govt of India.   

 With regards,

Yours sincerely,

(A.K. Padmanabhan)
Member, CBT, EPFO,
President, CITU

1st April 2014

Around 30000 workers of Mumbai Bus Transport under BEST (Bombay Electricity Services & Transport Corporation) are on strike today on 1st April 2014 to protest against unilateral action of the management to enhance working hours from 8 hours to 12 hours and other unilateral measures of adversely restructuring their service conditions. BEST Kamgarh Sanghatana, a constituent of All India Road Transport Workers’ Federation is reportedly leading the strike. The Strike was total in the entire BEST operation in all the 26 depots in the city paralyzing the service totally.

CITU extends all support to the heroic strike action by the Mumbai bus workers, calls upon other trade unions and the unions affiliated to CITU in particular to act in solidarity with the striking workers. CITU also urges upon the State Government of Maharashtra to intervene and prevail upon the BEST management to withdraw its anti-worker unilateral measures and sort out the issues in consultation with the striking workers and their union.

Issued by

General Secretary

15th March 2014

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions denounces the anti-worker bias of the UPA Govt which has not yet notified the increase in minimum pension of Rs1000/- under EPF-Pension scheme and enhancement of the ceiling of contribution and coverage which has been unanimously recommended by Central Board of Trustees of Employees Provident Fund Organisation on 5th February 2014 and sent to Govt for immediate action on the same.

Demanding enhancement of the minimum-guaranteed pension under EPF scheme, the trade union movement has been agitating since last five years or so. This demand was one of the ten-point demands on which all the Central Trade Unions and National Federations have been conducting countrywide agitations and strikes from 2009. The Govt committed to the Central Trade Unions for an early decision on the same in May 2013. Sometimes in third week of January 2014, the Govt came out in public to announce its decision in making a minimum pension under EPF-Pension scheme Rs 1000/- and raising the eligibility wage ceiling to Rs 15000/-. On 5th February 2014, in an urgently called meeting of Central Board of Trustees, the matter was discussed and the CBT made an unanimous recommendation on the same including its date of effect from 1st April 2014. And well before the election was announced on 5th March 2014, the Union Cabinet has reportedly cleared the recommendation for augmenting the minimum pension amount to Rs1000/- and the eligibility wage ceiling to Rs 15000/- by the end of February itself and again announced the same in the media. But unfortunately, no official notification has yet been made and neither the EPF office nor the Labour Ministry could yet throw any light on the fate of that decision.

It is being noticed that the Congress leaders have been making election campaign taking credit on the augmentation of minimum pension. But at the same time it is noted the UPA Ministers are pursuing overtime the Election Commission on behalf of their corporate and Business House partners for allowing them to announce FDI in multi-brand retail trade or increasing the price of natural gas and other decisions of corporate-interests. But any initiative to issue notification on increase in minimum pension amount under EPF-Pension scheme which is going to benefit 27 lakh workers in the lowest strata in particular, is not yet visible exposing the brazen pro-rich bias of the UPA Govt.

CITU denounces such an anti-worker bias of the UPA Govt and demands upon them to immediately issue notification in that regard on which the decision has already been taken and announced well before the election was announced. CITU calls upon the workers to launch united protest against such anti-worker attitude of the Govt.

Tapan Sen
General Secretary

The All India Coordination Committee of Mid Day Meal Workers (CITU) strongly condemns the injustice done by the UPA II government to the 26 lakh mid day meal workers of the Country. Despite the written assurance given to the 45th Indian Labour Conference in May 2013 and the assurance given in Parliament that that the remuneration of the Mid Day Meal workers will be increased in the financial year 2013-14, and getting the finance ministry’s approval for the same, by not giving the cabinet approval for it, the UPA government once again proved that the labour is not in their agenda.

The Minister for HRD, Shri Pallam Raju, on 12 February 2014, assured a delegation of the AICCMDMW (CITU) that the remuneration will be increased to Rs.2000 per month (from Rs.1000 per month) and only the approval of the cabinet is awaited.But even the last cabinet meeting of the UPA II government turned its back to 26 lakh women workers by not giving the approval for the increase.

We call upon the Mid Day Meal Workers of the country to protest against the UPA government’s attitude and expose them among the workers and the people by organising press conferences, meetings, rallies, dharnas etc. all over the country. We call upon the midday meal workers to carry forward the struggle for their just demands of regularisation and minimum wages and pension and to save the scheme which provides 15% of the family calorie intake of the poor of our country.

Issued by

A R Sindhu
Convenor, Secretary CITU

Presidential Council of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) has called for worldwide struggle against unemployment and for the strengthening of solidarity actions in the struggle against capitalist and imperialist exploitations. The meeting of the Council, the highest policy making body of the only class oriented International Trade Union Organisation, was held in Rome on 14th and 15th February, 2014. The meeting hosted by USB, Italy was presided by WFTU’s President Muhammad Shaaban Azouz, who is also President of GFTU, Syria.  Thirty two members of the Presidential Council out of the 43 members participated. There were some special invitees. From India CITU was represented by A.K.Padmanabhan and Swadesh Dev Roye, Vice President and Deputy General Secretary respectively. Others included H. Mahadevan, AITUC(Deputy General Secretary) C.H. Venkatachalam, AIBEA (Convenor, Finance Commission) and Debanjan Chakravorty (General Secretary, TUI Construction), S.P. Tiwari, TUCC . Among other participants included those from China, Vietnam, Cuba, DPRK (North Korea), Venezuela, Peru, Columbia, Brazil, Chile, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, U.K, South Africa, Nigeria, Gabon, Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Sudan, Malaysia Bangladesh and Sudan.  USB Italy, the host Organisation had made elaborate arrangements for the meeting and its General Secretary Pierpalo Leonardi welcomed the participants.

Opening Remarks:
In his opening remarks, President Muhammad Shaaban Azouz, said that the meeting with the main agenda of the Reviewing the activities in 2013 and approving the plan of Action 2014-15 is very important in view of the global situation. We have to strengthen the unity of the workers of the world to fight the economic and social onslaughts of the world capitalism and imperialism. He referred to the stepping up of brutality against legitimate aspiration of the World Working Class and peoples of the world who are struggling for freedom, independence and sovereignty. Explaining the present day devastating developments of the capitalist world, he referred to the multifarious oppression and exploitation, through military, financial and industrial machination, and the way they are sowing the seeds of division among the people in the same country. Referring to his own country Syria, the President said that the achievements of his country since the dawn of liberation from French colonialism by Seventy years are threatened by the tools and agents of brutal global exploitative system. He explained in detail the brutalities against the people of Syria by those of the USA, Britain, France and some regional powers led by Turkey. He also said that “the smell of Petroleum has blinded the foresight and vision” of these forces, “ who are lavishing the capabilities of Syrian people, especially those of Oil, which is sold to brokers and dealers of those countries at unreasonable prices.” He was confident that the people of Syria will be victorious in this battle which he said was “an integral part of the battle of mankind against exploitation and colonialism.”

General Secretary’s Report
Presenting the report, which included Review of the activities in 2013 and Action Plan for 2014-15, General Secretary, George Mavrikos, captured the present day situation at Global level.
Quoting from the documents of the 16th Congress of WFTU in 2011, he said that the happenings have confirmed the analysis of WFTU. There is universal attack on jobs, wages and salaries. He said that Capitalism is condemning millions of workers to unemployment, poverty in persistent, permanent, relative and absolute misery. He also referred to the imperialist interventions against people of Syria, in Mali, Libya, Central Africa and also recently in Ukraine. Reviewing the activities in the year 2013, he said that the decisions taken in the Presidential Council in Peru, was consistently implemented. Series of initiatives have been taken on campaigns, solidarity actions, official WFTU missions etc.

On the Organisation front, there were improvements, including formation of new Sectoral International Organisation (TUI) of Pensioners and Retirees. There were International Day of Action Programme in 43 countries, 31 Thematic International Conferences, and solidarity campaigns for Cuba, Palestine, Syria, Mali, Venezuela, Columbia and others were organized. There were active participation of WFTU Head Quarters in International Organisations and also in Congresses and conferences in over 90 countries. General Secretary said that “the rich action of the WFTU on central, regional and sectoral levels has aimed to unite the forces of the working class in class struggles, to unite the workers, no matter their ideology, religion, language, gender, unite the people in the struggle against capitalist exploitation and against imperialism” While explaining the situation in various regions of the world, where working class is waging persistent struggles, he exhorted the Presidential Council members and affiliated unions to work for strengthening of WFTU and march ahead with unity and class orientation. Referring to the activities of Regional Offices, Sub Regional Offices and the activities of various Trade Unions International (TUIs), coordinating sectoral activities, he underlined the difficulties as well as weaknesses in the functioning.

Action Plan:
The Action Plan for 2014-15, included increased activities on important issues. This year International Day of Action – the foundation Day of WFTU – on 3rd October will be observed with its central issue as Unemployment. Coming 3rd October will also mark the beginning of the 70th Anniversary of the foundation of WFTU. The programmes included a World Congress of Working Women, to be preceded by Asian and also European Conventions. TUI Conferences of Transport and Public Services will be held in 2014 in Chile and Nepal respectively. A detailed Programme for strengthening organizational activities have been finalized. WFTU will be more active in activities connected with UN, UNESCO and ILO. WFTU representatives will attend UN 58th session of the Commission on the status of women. Dr. K. Hemalata, Secretary CITU will be in the WFTU delegation. WFTU Website is being renewed and a Web Radio will be operationalised, as an effective tool for campaign and dissemination of information.

Discussion of the Report
38 Comrades participated in the discussion, sharing the situation in different countries and also on sectoral issues. Intervening in the discussion, A.K. Padmanabhan, President, CITU, expressed solidarity with the struggles in different parts of the world. He gave details of united struggles in India, for which Central TUs and National Federations affiliated with WFTU and ITUC had come together with other non affiliated organizations. He also referred to the country wide strike of Bank Employees on 10th and 11th February and the Central Govt. Employees strike on 12th and 13th February in which nearly 2 million employees had participated. He thanked WFTU head quarters for participating in the National Conference of CITU and also for the opportunities given to CITU leaders for representing WFTU in various forums.
He assured all support and co-operation for the programmes being finalized for 2014-15 and said all efforts will be made to implement these, with the co-operation of all affiliated and friendly organizations, in India.

Summing up
With all the participants generally in agreement with the proposals, General Secretary in his summing up of the discussions, stressed again the need for furthering activities of WFTU. He also underlined the necessity of propaganda and campaign exposing ILO’s continuous refusal to allow proportional representation to WFTU which is legitimately due to it. The struggle for such status will have to be carried out in ILO forums and outside. He was happy to announce that the WFTU anthem with its lyrics in different languages is ready. The Orchestration for the anthem by a famous Nepali Composer was presented as a ‘draft’. It is proposed to have singers and instruments from different regions in the finalization of the Anthem which will be in different languages, representing the global character of WFTU. The meeting unanimously approved the report of General Secretary. The next meeting of Presidential Council will be held in 2015, in Gabon, Africa. The meeting also adopted resolutions on Solidarity with the same struggles, including that of the Bank Employees lead by NUBE, Malausia. Meeting concluded with the remarks of the President, profusely thanking the leadership and volunteers of USB, Italy and declaring to confine our fight for steady, stable and decent work for all and support and social benefits for the unemployed and also reminding that unemployment and capitalism go hand in hand.

Saturday, 22 February 2014 18:04

Rs.5 Lakhs handed over to Maruti Workers Union

Expressing solidarity with the heroic struggle of Maruti workers, Tamilnadu State Committee of CITU, conducted a state wide campaign and fund collection.

On 30th January, in a function organized by the Haryana State Committee of CITU at Gurgaon, a cheque for Rs.5 lakhs was handed over to the Maruti Workers Union. In Tamilnadu, hundreds of workers have been dismissed, suspended, transferred and harassed by the employers, mainly MNCs in different parts of the state. The struggle of Hyundai workers as well as many other MNC workers have been going on for years; to establish the right to organize a trade union for themselves. And in many of the establishments struggles have been success for trade unions have been registered and even bilateral discussions are held and settlements made.

On the struggle of Maruti workers, a lot of solidarity actions were also organized in the state. Recent mobilization of workers in Haryana and the continuous struggle of Maruti workers has been taken down to the workers at the grass root level.

148 workers who are in jail for almost 2 years being denied bail and the sufferings of the women, children and other members of more than 2500 workers have caused great concern among workers. The reason given by the highest judiciary in the state is that the workers going out on bail “will hamper foreign investment”. Highly paid special advocated are appearing in the court for the Govt. to fight against the poor workers’ bail petition.

Tamilnadu State Committee of CITU sharing the pain and grief of these workers, called upon its unions to approach its members for a solidarity fund. Handbills were printed in thousands in each district and the collections were done mainly in the organized sector.

Wherever the workers were approached, they responded magnificently and contributed money. Almost every union collected much more than the quota. The collections were to be done within a few days and all the district committees completed the collection within the time given to them.

It was this amount that was handed over to the Maruti workers on 30th January.

A.Soundarrajan, President of Tamilnadu State Committee and a National Secretary went to Gurgaon along with General Secretary of CITU Tapan Sen, leaders of Haryana State CITU including its President Surinder Singh Malik, General Secretary Satbir Singh, Tyagi, General Council Member of CITU attended the function. Leaders of various unions in the area also attended the function in which large number of workers including women were present.

The Cheque was handed over to representing the Maruti Workers Union by A. Sounderrajan, amidst slogans of solidarity with the struggling workers. Sounderrajan and Tapan Sen addressed the gathering and assured solidarity and support to the workers, whenever and wherever they are on struggle.

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Secretariat’s Greetings

Central Secretariat of CITU, which met on 31st January and 1st February in New Delhi congratulated the Tamilnadu State Committee for their solidarity action and thanked the workers and employees who had extended help to the Maruti Workers.

Tamilnadu State Committee also decided to contribute Rs. 50 thousands to the struggle fund of Haryana State Committee. A cheque for this amount was handed over to General Secretary of Haryana CITU, Satbir Singh by Malathi Chittibabu on 1st February at the venue of the Secretariat meeting.

CITU Secretariat while thanking the comrades for solidarity has called upon other unions also to emulate the Tamilnadu State Committee.

Monday, 17 February 2014 14:56


The interim budget, presented by the Finance Minister Chidambaram today, is a political gimmick to camouflage its continued thrust of pro-corporate economic regime and anti-people bias.

In the run up to the forthcoming general elections, the Finance Minister seeks to project so called “aam admi” orientation by comparing the present expenditures/allocations on health, education and other developmental heads with the figures of ten-years back. By doing so the FM seeks to cleverly hide the truth that in the successive budgets of UPA-II Govt, the budgetary pro-people allocations were not deliberately spent aiming to contain the fiscal deficit. Even in the current year (2013-14), central plan outlay on rural development head has been cut drastically by Rs 5792 crore; in irrigation and flood control by Rs. 800 crore; in transport by Rs 24,359 crore; social services by Rs 28,640 crore and industry & minerals by Rs 11,843 crore; and also the central plan outlay was cut for the Health & Family Welfare Ministry Rs 7000 crore, Education (Human Resource) Ministry by Rs 4000 crore and Social Justice & Empowerment Ministry by Rs 1000 crore. Over all cut in central plan outlay was Rs 66,000 crore only to contain fiscal deficit to 4.6% and claiming credit for stabilizing the economy! All these expenditure would have contributed to income and employment generation to common people.

How the Govt, which is so focused on containing fiscal deficit could continue to allow pilferage in national exchequer by keeping due corporate tax and income tax from the corporate-big business lobby unrecovered? The tax-dues is to the tune of Rs 5.10 lakh crore as in December 2013. These dues are over and above the tax concessions granted to them on “revenue-foregone” account of around Rs 2.8 lakh crore only on account of corporate and income tax. The Govt laments on fiscal deficit only squeeze expenditure on peoples’ welfare.

The interim budget contains nothing on relief to the working people who generates GDP for the country and revenue for the national exchequer keeping the national economy afloat. The written statement of the Prime Minister in the 45th Session of the Indian Labour Conference that the demands of the trade unions were “unexceptionable” and the demands like universal coverage of social security benefits and national minimum wage “are in advance stages of consideration”, found no reflection in the budget reducing the prime minister’s statement to mere sound-bites. Despite assurances on different occasions no relief has been announced for the scheme workers who are not even getting minimum wages.

The budget’s major focus remains on further concessions to corporate and big-business lobby, both domestic and foreign, through tax concessions on the plea of promoting investment. Investment can expand only with expansion of market through increasing purchasing power of people. But, market can no way be expanded by squeezing developmental and welfare expenditures with ongoing gloom and widening poverty, further burdened by increasing food inflation. It was rather necessary to contain non-essential imports by raising import duty to contain current account deficit and also to boost the domestic industries. But Budget refused to take a call.

The UPA-II Govt ‘s blind approach to run the economy only by pampering corporates, both domestic and foreign, is bound to aggravate the gloom and crisis further. This is clear from the very fact that despite sizable growth in agricultural GDP by 4.6%, over all GDP cannot be estimated beyond 4.8 as the non-agricultural sector is in the midst of stagnation heading for decline. Complete reversal of the present economic policy regime is the only way if the country and the people are to advance.

CITU denounces the anti-people interim budget of the UPA-II Govt and calls upon the working people to heighten their struggle for reversal of the anti-people policy regime.

17th February 2014

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions congratulates 10 lakh employees and officers of country's banking sector for their historic two days strike action on 10-11 February 2014 led by the all in united platform of employees and officers-the United Forum of Bank Unions. The main demands of the bank employees and officers had been negotiated settlement on wage revision which has fallen overdue. The Bank employees also demanded to put a stop in mass scale outsourcing of banking services along with hectic deregulation of the banking sector much to the detriment of the interests of the national economy. The UFBU had once deferred the strike dates, demonstrating their eagerness for a negotiated and respectable settlement. But arrogance of the Finance Ministry as well as bank management compelled the employees and officers to go in for countrywide two days strike and the strike was almost total on both the days throughout the country reflecting the firm resolve of the bank employees and officers and their unions to fight to the last for legitimate rights of the employees as well as in defence of the state-owned banking sector of the economy.

CITU resolves to continue all out support to the united struggles of the bank employees and officers while hailing them for the two days historic strike action on 10-11 February 2014. The CITU also congratulates the Central Govt employees for their successful countrywide strike action on 12-13 February 2014 to press for their demands pertaining to scrapping of the anti-employee newpension scheme, immediate action on merger of DA with basic pay, announcement of interim relief, regularization of the gramin-dak-sevaks and filling of the huge number of vacancies in the central' government offices etc. The two days strike was called by the Confederation of Central Govt Employees and Workers and other organizations which has been responded magnificently by the central government employees enmasse throughout the country.

There are about 64 main departments of thecentral government establishments spread over 22 states and union territories employing around 14 lakh employees. By the end of the second day, the strike was almost total in 8 states, 90 per cent in 6 states, above 70 per cent in 6 states and around 40 to 60 per cent in 2 states. Such a massive strike action demonstrated the determination of the mass of the central govt employees to defend their legitimate rights and also fight against the trend of mass scale contractorisation and casualisation of jobs keeping several lakhs of vacancies in the central govt establishments unfilled. CITU reiterates its continued support to the struggle of central govt employees while again commending them for their heroic countrywide two days strike action. CITU demands upon the Govt of India to take note of the massive resentment among the workers and employees in both banks and central govt establishments and promptly act in addressing legitimate demands of the bank and central govt employees while reversing their retro e policies on both the sectors.

General Secretary

13 February 2014

Hundreds of mid day meal workers under the banner of The All India Co ordination committee of Mid Day Meal Workers (CITU) organized a March to Parliament on today, 13 February 2014. More thatn two thousand Mid day meal workers from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan UP and Uttarakhand participated in the programme.

Nearly 26 lakhs workers, mostly women belonging to backward sections of society are employed in the Mid Day Meal Programme of the government of India, which provides nutritious food to the crores of school going children in our country. These midday meal workers who work at least 6-8 hours every day are neither recognised as workers nor paid any wage. They are paid a pittance of Rs 1000 a month and that too only for ten months in a year. They are not provided any social security.

The 45th Indian Labour Conference held in May 2013 recommended that the Mid Day Meal Workers be recognized as workers, paid minimum wages and social security including pension. The HRD Ministry had assured the 45th ILC that the remuneration of the Mid Day Meal Workers will be enhanced in 2013-14. But this has not been implemented so far.

The main demands were,
· Implement the 45th ILC recommendation

· Immediate increase in remuneration upto minimum wages

· Payment for all 12 months, through zero balance bank account

· 180 days paid maternity wages

· Stop privatisation of the MDMS by handing over to corporate NGOs

Ensure safety of Mid Day Meal Workers and provide medical insurance. Mid Day Meal Workers must be covered under Janshree Beema Yojna

The March was inaugurated by Com. Tapan Sen MP (General Secretary, CITU) at Jantar Mantar. He called upon the mid day meal workers to carry on the struggles to keep the issues on the agenda of the nation and the political parties.

The Presidium consisted of Satvir Singh(Haryana), Chabi Ram(HP), Manzubhai Kothwal (Maharashtra), Radha Sarangi (Odisha), Charanjeet Kaur (Punjab), Sumitra Chopra (Rajasthan) and Karuna(UP) and Reshmi Bisht (Uttarakhand).

Sitaram Yechury MP and Basudev Acharya MP leaders of CPI(M) assured the gathering that the struggle inside the parliament by the left parties will echo the struggle outside the parliament by the working class.

Those who addressed the gathering include K Hemalata, Secretary CITU, Ranajana Nirula, Convener, ASHA Workers Coordination Committee and Treasurer CITU, Maimorrna Mollah, AIDWA, Avoy Mukherjee, General Secretary DYFI, V Sivadasan, President SFI, Wazir Singh, Vice President STFI.

Mid Day Meal Union leaders Saroj(Haryana), Jagat Ram(HP), Malini Meshta (Karnataka) Nagargojhe Prabhakar (Maharashtra), Isani Sarangi (Odisha), Harpal Kaur (Punjab), Manju Gaur (Rajasthan) and Rampyar Yadav(UP) addressed the gathering.

A R Sindhu, convener AICCMDMW (CITU) concluded the meeting. It is decided that the AICCMDMW (CITU) will launch struggles if the government is not increasing the wages with effect from April 2013 and continue the struggles for regularisation and minimum wages and pension.

Issued by
A R Sindhu
Convener, AICCMDMW (CITU), Secretary, CITU

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 19:03

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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