Background of The 17th All India Conference of CITU

Tapan Sen

The 17th conference of CITU will be held in Bengaluru from 18 to 22 January, 2023. The conference is taking place bearing the devastating memory of an intervening period torn with unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, and the utterly inhuman response by the Government at the Centre in the form of severe restrictions accompanied by aggressive organized onslaught on the lives, livelihood and basic democratic rights of the people. On the other hand, there had been surge of determined resistances to all those onslaughts, and, in many cases these actions were spontaneous.
The anti-people legislative and administrative actions, pushed through by the Government during the lockdown with associated restrictions under Disaster Management Act viz - commercial mining in coal; unregulated liberalization of FDI and FII in all sectors including defense production; imposition of retrograde Farm Laws and Electricity Bills; suspension of labour laws for three years in many of the BJP ruled states through Ordnance followed by enactment of Labour Codes; and, thereafter, the Essential Defence Service Act; were no way even distantly connected with pandemic management for saving the peoples’ lives and health.

Undoubtedly these were to illegitimately serve the corporate masters for maximizing profit even in the midst of downslide in production and business; on the other hand the most emergency task of expansion-activisation of public health-service network on an emergency basis and compelling the private health business to work within the regulation of public health requirement were totally and brutally neglected only to benefit the private corporate-heath-business. The inhuman ugly face of neoliberal order and their political agents in governance were never so glaringly demonstrated.

Amidst such extreme adversities imposed by the neoliberal order, CITU, in pursuit of its aims and objectives has strived itself to further its intervention on the line of defiance and resistance in an altogether untraveled path and was first to call for protest initiative from homes within a month of promulgation of lockdown on 21 April 2020 in defense of the interest of working class and the people. The call of Protest from Home with a slogan ‘Bhasan Nehi, Ration Chahiye’, ‘Enough of Speech – Food & Wages are what we need’; and then the call for Step Out - Step Up, towards bigger organized combat against the ruling class barbarism, towards bigger to visible mobilizations of defiance; these could successfully draw almost entire trade union movement in the united combative struggle leading to General Strikes on November 26, 2020 in the midst of lockdown, besides numerous sectoral actions both in organized and unorganized sectors.

The day of the General Strike had also coincided with the beginning of more than year long historic Farmers’ struggle in the form of massive blockading of various entry borders of National Capital, New Delhi, demanding repeal of Farm Laws and Electricity Amendment Bill and other demands which were also responded to by the working class through countrywide solidarity actions with continuity.

Lakhs of migrant workers’ silent revolt throughout the country in the form of marches along with families including children from one corner of the country to the other, braving police atrocities on the way, is another manifestation of the desperation as well as determination of the people not to accept everything lying down. Relief to the distressed unorganized and migrant workers across the nation by the organized trade union movement, especially the CITU committees, at different levels going beyond their usual capacities had been another precious experience during the intervening period.

The fragility of the neoliberal capitalist world order stood exposed with its incapability as well as its lack of intention to scientifically handle the covid-19 pandemic. In the midst of the aggravating systemic crisis, the vulgar increase of profits and accumulation of wealth by few capitalists pushing the people towards further destitution, distress and hunger has heightened the income inequality to an extreme obscene level. It is telling upon severely the already depressing consumption expenditure, contributing further to the more than decade long crisis and the recessionary situation of the entire capitalist order.

The period since our 16th Conference witnessed the aggressive pursuit of an extreme right-wing authoritarian communal regime along with the economic crisis aggravating in hectic pace. During this period, India and Asia-pacific have emerged as the focal centre of the imperialist-attempts along with shameless and desperate bonhomie of Modi Government with US imperialism. Aggressive pursuit of RSS’ original fascistic doctrine by this Government as an integral part and parcel of accentuating global ultra-right wing authoritarian/fascistic forces and its obvious compulsion to ascend to authoritarianism are deepening the crisis further.
Yet there had been no respite in nasty exercise of communal-divisive machinations by the ruling dispensation with the active support of corporate lobby and the media controlled by it. This also got reflected in increasing attacks on dalits, minorities, women and the downtrodden in the society, being aided and abated by almost all the wings of state-power. A large section of working people also got influenced by such exercise.

Dismantling of the existing labour laws through Labour Codes to impose conditions of virtual slavery on the working class and the desperate exercise of the Modi Government on Farm Laws including anti-people amendment of Essential Commodities Act targeting the decimation of peasants agriculture to pave the way for corporate control are integral parts of the ruling class’ authoritarian aggression on democracy and in governance; the Government could be compelled to repeal the Farm Laws by historic Farmers’ struggle; but efforts are being made to push them through backdoor both at Central and State levels.
The policies’ trend, which were identified in the 16th conference, are seen to be pursued vigorously by the Modi led BJP Govt after 2nd time coming to its office. The loot of people’s national assets, aggressive pursuit of privatization of public sector enterprises (recent is fertilizer) and financial institutions, imposition of National Education Policy, National Monetisation Pipeline, setting up of National Land Monetisation Corporation -- all are part of the destructive anti-people anti-national fascistic project to serve the interests of the corporate class, both domestic and foreign. Such a situation brings forth the stupendous challenges before the working class movement to widen and strengthen class unity and united class struggles against the anti-people misrule combating that strategy of corporate-communal nexus in governance.

In this background, the conference has to evaluate and deepen our understanding of the overall situation including the reflections of the systemic crisis of neoliberal order, both globally and nationally, on all aspects on the economy, on the lives, livelihood and rights of the people and its serious ramifications in politics and the society, the vicious onslaught on democracy and democratic rights of the people and aggressive authoritarianism in the governance of economy, political system and also governance of the society. This was also accompanied by aggressive communal divisive machinations on the society as an integral instrument of the ruling class in their project of pro-corporate governance. We have to review our role, work, movement and organization as well as steps to be undertaken to heighten and intensify the united struggles on the premise of such comprehensive understandings.

The 17th Conference of CITU, preceded by series of district, state and industry/federation level conferences have to take up that task of sharpening the understanding and heightening the class struggle with all seriousness.


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