History of CITU Conferences

Preparations have already begun in Kannur, Kerala for the 14th All India Conference of CITU, to be held from 4th to 8th April 2013. On this occasion, let us have a brief look at all the previous conferences.

Foundation Conference
The All India Trade Union Conference was held from 28th to 30th May, as per the decision of a Convention of General Council members and State Committee members of AITUC, held at Goa on 9th and 10th April 1970. It was held at Lenin Nagar (Ranji Stadium) in Kolkata. A reception committee with Com. Jyoti Basu as Chairman and Com. Manoranjan Roy as General Secretary organized the conference. Reception Committee had enrolled 50,000 workers as members of the committee. The review made later noted that the enthusiasm among workers for this conference was such that, when a call was made for collection of Rs.2 lakhs, 3 lakhs was collected within a short period of 3 weeks! The Conference was attended by 4264 delegates representing 1759 unions with a membership of 8,04,637/- from 18 states. Fraternal unions sent 116 delegates and 1134 observers attended the conference, making a total of 5514 participants. The Conference was guided by a presidium consisting of Mohammed Ismail, Suhrid Mullick Chaudhury, Haridas Malakar, E. Balanandan, Bimalanada Mukherji, A Balasubramaniam and S.Y. Kolhatkar. P. Ramamurti presented the report, which was earlier circulated in English, Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Tamil and Malayalam. There were brief translation of all speeches in all languages for the delegates. The resolution on formation of a new All India Trade Union Centre, to be named Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) was moved in the Conference on 30th May, by Com.Manoranjan Roy (West Bengal) and seconded by E. Balanandan (Kerala); which was passed unanimously among thunderous applause and shouting of slogans.

The Conference elected B.T. Ranadive as President, P. Ramamurti as General Secretary and Kamal Sarkar as Treasurer. Mohammed Ismail, S.Y. Kolhatkar, E. Balanandan, Suhrid Mallick Chaudhari and Sudhin Kumar were elected Vice-Presidents and M.K. Pandhe, Manoranjan Roy and Niren Ghosh as Secretaries. The Conference elected 158 General Council members and 33 working committee members were elected by the General Council. The Working Committee included Coms. Jyoti Basu and Samar Mukherji. On 31st May, a massive rally of 10 lakhs of workers was held in the Brigade Parade Ground.

Second Conference
Second All India Conference was held in Ernakulam, in Kerala from 18th to 22nd April 1973. Meeting after 3 years of the foundation conference and at the time of serious political developments in the country, this was an important conference in our history. Com. B.T. Ranadive, in his presidential address referred to the massive arrests of Comrades who were put behind bars under MISA and to the monstrous repression in West Bengal and also in other states. General Secretary’s report, presented by Com. P.Ramamurti gave details about all these attacks and the struggles being conducted by our unions, defending the rights of working people. The Conference reelected Com. BTR and PR as President and General Secretary. Com. Jyoti Basu was elected as one of the Seven Vice Presidents. Samar Mukherjee was elected Treasurer. The conference concluded with a massive rally on 22nd April.

Third Conference at Mumbai
Third Conference was held in Mumbai, from 21st to 25th May 1975. Com. B.T.R, began his Presidential Address, greeting to people of Vietnam and Cambodia, for their epochal victories against US imperialism. He also referred to the continuous struggles conducted by the Indian Working class. Among others, he noted that “on an average more than a million and half are engaged in strike action since 1966, a whole decade.”

In his concluding address, Com. BTR, referred in detail to the points raised in the discussions, increasing attacks on working class and pointed out that more and more attacks, including those on our democratic rights are in the offing. He thundered, “We stand by class struggle, we have got a conception of class struggle, we have got a conception of worker-peasant alliance. Anything which deviates from this, will not take us to the goal of revolution”. He also pointed out that “inspite of immediate difficulties, we are entering a period of tremendous opportunities”. The Conference reelected Coms. BTR and PR as President and General Secretary and Manoranjan Roy was elected Treasurer. Coms. Samar Mukherjee and Nrisingha Chakraborty were among the six Secretaries.

Chennai Conference
The Fourth Conference was held at Chennai, from 11 to 15 April 1979. The period between the third and fourth Conference was a period of critical importance to the Indian democratic movement. Within a month of 3rd Conference, Emergency was declared and denial of democratic rights was complete. The authoritarian Govt., led by Indira Gandhi, violated all democratic norms but could not continue in power. 1977 elections to the Lok Sabha, brought to power a Janata Party Govt. the first non-Congress Govt. at centre. Later, in West Bengal Assembly elections, the first Left Govt. was voted to power and Com. Jyoti Basu became the Chief Minister. In 1978, Tripura also voted for a left front government.

The united struggle involving all Central Trade Unions against the Industrial Relations Bill in 1978 was a new phase of united trade union movement.
It was in this fourth conference, a separate meeting of working women was held and the All India Co-ordination Committee of working women was formed with Comrade Vimala Ranadive as Convener. Coms. BTR and PR were reelected as President and General Secretary and Samar Mukherjee was elected Treasurer. Com. Sushila Gopalan was one of the nine Vice-Presidents and was the first woman in the CITU secretariat.

Kanpur Conference
The Fifth Conference of CITU was held in Kanpur, the historic industrial centre of many struggles in the pre independent India; from 13 to 17 April 1983. This Conference coincided with the death centenary year of Karl Marx and the Conference called upon the delegates to assimilate his teachings and carry forward the message to the grass roots level to expose conspiracies of imperialism led by USA.

Among the foreign delegates in the Conference were those from Soviet Union and Peoples Republic of China. Among those greeted the conference was Com. Indrajit Gupta, General Secretary AITUC and O.P. Aghi Secretary BMS. On behalf of All India KisanSabha, Com. Harkishan Sigh Surjeet greeted the Conference. 2196 delegates including 57 women, 43 observers and 16 fraternal delegates attended the conference. 1069 delegates had been to jail. Com. BTR was reelected as President and Samar Mukherjee was the new General Secretary. Com. PR was one of the eleven Vice Presidents. Com.E. Balanandan was elected as Treasurer. Totally there were 20 secretariat members.

Com. BTR in his concluding address referred to the increasing lockouts and called upon the delegates “to convert the anti lock-out struggles into democratic struggles against this anti-social Act of employers”. Referring to the formation of National Campaign Committee and the country wide general strike on 19th January 1982, he said that the consciousness about unity and united struggles is growing and that is a welcome feature.

Sixth Conference at Mumbai
The Sixth Conference was held in Mumbai, 18-22 May 1987. This was the second time Mumbai was hosting the Conference. The period after the fifth conference was a period of rapid changes in our country and the world. The conference noted that because of persistent efforts and overcoming many obstacles, the struggle for trade union unity has been successful and this unity has been strengthened. It was also noted that inspite of various endeavours, “United strength of working class has not succeeded in stunning the tide of economic offensive”.

The period after fifth conference was a period of fight against communal, divisive and disruptive forces and CITU committees and unions have been in the forefront of struggle against these forces. This conference reiterated the clarion call for formation of a “Confederation of Central Trade Unions, and national federations, where all issues concerning labour and economic policy can be discussed freely and decisions taken unanimously”. A full day session on issues of working women was held.

Com. Jyoti Basu, third time Chief Minister of West Bengal and Vice-President, addressed the conference, exhorting the delegates to be more organized, united and politically conscious, against the policies of Central Government, which were increasingly directed against the working class. He explained the relation between left front government in West Bengal and the working class, Com. Jyoti Basu, said that the Govt. has called upon the employers to meet genuine demands of workers, otherwise workers will be compelled to resort to agitation and strikes.

Com. B.T. Ranadive, Samar Mukherjee and E. Balanandan were reelected as President, General Secretary and Treasurer. Out of the total 26 Secretariat members, there were 3 women – Sushila Gopalan, Ahalya Rangnekar and Vimala Ranadive. The Conference venue at Mumbai was named after Com. V.P. Chintan a senior leder of CITU from Tamilnadu. He died in Moscow on 8th May, where he had gone on behalf of CITU to attend May Day celebrations. 2366 delegates and 80 observers attended the conference among them 134 were women. 1114 comrades were attending the conference for first time and 209 had attended all the five previous conference.

Seventh Conference
Calcutta hosted the Seventh Conference, from 13 to 17 February 1991. This was the second time the Conference was being held there, the first being the foundation conference. 21 years after the foundation conference, the working class was facing new challenges. This was the first time, CITU was holding its conference without Coms. BTR and PR amongst the delegates. Com. Jyoti Basu presided over the inaugural session. The Conference noted the increase in membership despite increasing closures. Com. Samar Mukherjee stressed the need for collective and democratic functioning at all levels.

Com. Jyoti Basu, in his concluding speech, referred to the dangerous growth of communal and divisive forces and called upon the working class, to defeat and isolate them. He laid stress on bringing the workers in the unorganized sector into the fold of trade union actions. The Conference elected Coms. E. Balanandan and M.K. Pandhe as President and General Secretary. Both of them were members of the Secretariat from the foundation conference. Ranjit Basu was the new treasurer. The Conference concluded with a mass rally at Brigade Parade Ground on 17th. CITU membership crossed 20 lakhs by the time of this conference. 2341 delegates and 121 observers attended the conference. There were 121 women participants in the conference.

Working Womens Convention
A separate convention of working women was held prior to the conference, on 12th and 13th February, attended by 475 delegates from 18 states. This was the new beginning of having separate convention of working women at national level after the separate sessions in conference, which stated in 4th Conference in 1979.

Patna Conference
The Eighth Conference was held in Patna, from 3 to 7 March 1994. The clarion call of the Conference was to further strengthen the united movement of Trade Unions and also to strengthen the united movements with other mass organizations. Stepping up the actions against the IMF prescribed policies of the Narasimha Rao Govt. was the need of the hour. This was the message from the conference. Presided by Com. E. Balanandan, the conference was inaugurated by Com.Jyoti Basu, Vice-President and Chief Minister of West Bengal. The mass rally was held in the afternoon.

Nine Commissions were formed to discuss various important issues. Conference held detailed discussions on the new economic policies.
In his concluding address Com. E. Balanandan pointed out that “Unity of the T.U. movement to-day is reflected not only for defending the rights of the working class but for defending the unity and integrity of the country and its sovereignty. The fight against all round offensive by imperialism is therefore to be further strengthened and given shape of mass actions”. Com. E. Balanandan and M.K. Pandhe were reelected President and General Secretary. Com. Saroj Choudhary was elected Treasurer. There were 16 Vice-president and 20 Secretaries. 2031 delegates from 21 States including 133 women attended the Conference.

Ninth Conference
Kochi hosted the CITU Conference for the second time from 21-26 April 1997. “Towards big battles against Globalisation and Liberalisation” was the call of the ninth conference. Building up the unity of the working class was stressed in the sessions of the conference. A Seminar on T.U. unity in the struggle against the New Economic Policy was held which was addressed by leaders of other Central TUs including A.B. Bardhan (AITUC). AITUC and HMS proposed immediate merger of central TUs in the seminar. CITU emphasized the need of formation of a confederation of all central T.Us, which would further pave the way for formation of a singe national T.U. centre in the country. There were six commissions, discussing various important subjects. On 20th April, fifth Convention of working women was held. 307 delegates from 17 states attended.

Com. E.K. Nayanar, Chief Minister of Kerala, addressed the Delegate Session and the public rally. 2409 delegates attended the conference. 178 were women. E. Balanandan, M.K. Pandhe and Ranjit Basu were elected President, General Secretary and Treasurer. Total Secretariat members were 36.

Tenth Conference
Andhra Pradesh hosted the tenth conference, which was held in Hyderabad from 27-30 December 2000. Com. Balanandan in his presidential address dealt with various struggles at the international level and noted developing resistance to U.S. imperialism. The conference discussion referred to the return of N.D.A. to power in 1999 and their efforts to dismantling PSUs and other actions in the name of second generation reforms. It also noted that there have been umpteen number of struggles by various sections of workers. Developing a powerful mass movement was the need of the hour. That was the understanding that arose from the discussions.

Conference discussed 7 important issues in commissions. This conference also had a separate discussion on organization. A call for an All India protest day was given to be observed on 24th January 2001. Prior to the conference, on 16-17 September, Sixth All India Convention of working women was held in Haldia and a resolution on tasks on working womens front was adopted in the conference. 2542 delegates attended the conference which included 262 women. E. Balanandan, M.K. Pandhe and Ranjit Basu were reelected President, General Secretary and Treasurer. In total there were 35 members in the Secretariat.

Chennai Conference
Chennai hosted the All India Conference for the second time, from 9 to 14 December 2003. This was the Eleventh Conference.
The Conference had detailed discussions on the situation nationally and also at international level. This was in the background of the policies of NDA Govt. and the increasing attacks on the working people. The recommendations of the Second National Commission on labour, had sought to take away whatever protection workers had enjoyed due to incessant struggles. In spite of opposition from the democratic sections, Govt. had enacted the draconian POTA.

The conference had a full session on the tasks among working women. The conference had six separate commissions to discuss important issues.
The new secretariat had 35 members. Com. M.K. Pandhe and Chittabrata Majumdar were elected President and General Secretary. Ranjit Basu was reelected Treasurer. Com. E. Balanandan was elected as one of the ten Vice-Presidents. Coms. Samar Mukherjee, C. Kannan and R. Umanath had opted to be relieved from their responsibilities. Com. E. Balanandan, in his concluding address paid glowing tributes to these comrades. Number of women comrades in the Secretariat increased to 4 in this conference. The Conference concluded with a massive procession and rally. Budhadeb Bhattacharya, Chief Minister of West Bengal was the main speaker in the rally.

Bangalore Conference
Bangalore hosted the Twelfth Conference of CITU from 17 to 21 January 2007. Five jathas from Amritsar, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram were organized as a run up to the conference and were received at the conference venue on 17th morning. Com. Pandhe, in his Presidential addressed dealt in detail, the developments in the international arena.

General Secretary Com. Chittabrata Majumdar, dealt with the onslaught on labour in detail. He referred to the second generation reforms of UPA Govt. and noted that the main pillars of these reforms have been total liberalization of financial sector, complete overhauling of labour laws aimed at casualisation and contractorisation of the labour force and complete liberalization and deregulation of trade. This was a period when we had 3 all India strikes in all the three preceding years; 24th February 2004, 29th September 2005 and 14th December 2006.

This conference gave a call for observance of birth centenary of Com. P. Ramamurti from 20th September 2007; for one year and for establishment of a Trade Union School in the name of Com. P. Ramamurti. 2439 delegates including 297 women attended the conference. There were 55 fraternal delegates from different parts of the world. Com. M.K. Pandhe, Chittabrata Majumdar and Rajit Basu were reelected President, General Secretary and Treasurer. Com. Chittabrata Majumdar passed away immediately after the conference and Mohammed Amin was elected General Secretary in February 2007.

Chandigarh Conference
The 13th Conference, was held in Chandigarh from 17 to 21 March 2010. This conference was being held after the General election in 2009 and UPAII had come to power. In the background of the political situation, this conference pointed out the challenges ahead as well as opportunities.

The United Trade Union movement has got further strengthened with all Central Trade Unions had come together to struggle for a common charter of demand. The inaugural session of the Chandigarh conference reflected this with leaders of all central trade unions being present there to declare united struggles in the coming period. The venue was named after Com. Jyoti Basu, our veteran leader and Vice-President from the Second Conference. In between we had also lost Comrades Balanandan, Chittabrata Majumdar and Ranjit Basu. Conference was attended by George Mavrikose General Secretary of CITU. 2410 delegates including 357 women from 24 states attended this conference; representing 50,50,942 members.

The Conference had discussed six important subjects in commissions. A.K. Padmanabhan, Tapan Sen and Ranjana Nirula were elected as the new President, General Secretary and Treasurer. Six women comrades were elected to the secretariat. The Conference concluded with a well attended mass rally.

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