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Talking Point – 1

 Mazdoor-Kisan Sangharsh Rally-2

CITU-AIKS-AIAWU

5th April 2022

 

 

Pension is not charity. It is a basic right of people who have contributed all their lives to the development of society, to lead dignified lives in their old age without being at the mercy of others. It is the responsibility of any elected government to ensure universal old age pension to all its citizens.

India does not have any universal social security system to protect its working people.

Several pension schemes do exist covering different sections of population like the non-governmental organised sector workers, the government employees, farmers, unorganised workers etc. On the whole, all these schemes taken together are estimated to cover only 58 million people, or around 12% of the workforce, according to the 2011 census. The 2020 National Commission on Population report estimated that there will be nearly 13.8 crore elderly people (persons aged 60 or more) in India in 2021.

Instead of extending coverage and improving benefits, the governments committed to the neoliberal order that have been trying to squeeze and curtail pension benefits.

Let us have a look at the existing pension schemes, their coverage and how this hard won right of the working people is being diluted.

EPS

The Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) is implemented by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation that manages the EPF of the workers. Only the workers’ money from the provident fund is heavily diverted to the pension fund. Employers practically do not contribute anything to the pension fund as it is only their statutory share to the provident fund that goes to the pension fund.

It is estimated that 26 crore workers were members of EPFO as on March 2021. But on an average, only 4.6 crore members were actively contributing. The number of pensioners under EPS was only 69.2 lakhs. Not all, but only low income EPFO subscribers are covered by pension. Not all workers earning above Rs 15000 per month are covered by pension.

Modi led BJP government has been trying to deprive the workers even of the limited benefits under the EPS. It announced its intention to tax EPF amounts, but had to withdraw after massive protests. Then, it announced that workers cannot withdraw their own money in EPF accounts till their superannuation, but had to withdraw this decision too because of strong opposition from workers. But despite opposition from all central trade unions, it is investing 15% of annual accruals in the share market and is planning to increase the same. The interest rates of EPF corpus have been continuously reduced. This reduction of interest rates in all the saving schemes is aimed at driving the funds to the share market.

The EPF and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 has been subsumed under the Code on Social Security, which proposes to reduce the contribution rate of both employers and workers to 10% from the present 12%. The workers can contribute more than 10% if she/he desires, but the employer has no obligation to pay more than 10%, thus enabling the employers covered by the EPF Act to save hundreds of crores of rupees. In addition, huge numbers of establishments and employers are left uncovered by EPF

EPFO had given an option of EPF and EPS contributions beyond the wage ceilings i.e. for the full wages, if employee and employer had agreed. This was in existence till August 2014. But many workers who had contributed for full wages were not getting increased pension. Though the Supreme Court provided some relief to the workers, the government is not willing to comply and only issued a toothless circular to obfuscate its failure to implement the Supreme Court judgment in letter and spirit.

Over time, EPS 95 has become a mockery; so far minimum admissible pension is concerned. Lakhs of workers are getting less than Rs 100 per month as pension. As the demand for increasing minimum pension became widespread, the UPA II government decided to increase minimum pension to Rs 1000, but failed to implement it. The present NDA government started implementing it in 2014, but with some conditionalities and formulae to keep pension as lower as possible. Large numbers of pensioners are still getting less than Rs.1000/a month as pension despite the relentless persuasion of the trade unions and pensioners to hike pension amount.   

In August 2019, the CBT recommended that minimum monthly pension payable to member/widow/widower pensioners may be raised to at least to Rs.2000 per month provided the government of India extends budgetary support for the same on yearly basis. But that was put on cold storage. In March 2021, the Standing Committee on Labour also recommended to increase the minimum pension amount from Rs 1000 to Rs 3000.

The demand of for monthly pension of Rs 9000 is based on the premise of pension being 50% of the last drawn salary and takes into the statutory minimum wage of 18000 per month announced by the Central government to its employees.

NPS

Till 2003, government employees were covered by the Old Pension System (OPS). Under OPS, on retirement, employees who worked for ten years or more, received 50% of their last drawn basic pay plus dearness allowance or their average earnings in the last ten months of service, whichever was more advantageous to them, as pension. OPS was discontinued by the BJP led NDA government in December 2003. The New Pension System (NPS) came into existence on 1 April 2004.

Until then, the pension system for government employees are pay-as-you-go defined benefit plan. Defence and railway employees, seamen, coal miners, Assam Tea Plantations, and some public sector entities had their own independent pension plans on par with the central government employees.

Under the NPS, those employed by the government contribute 10 percent of their basic salary to NPS, while their employers contribute up to 14 percent. Private sector employees can also participate in the NPS voluntarily, although some rules have changed. NPS is basically a market linked, defined contribution scheme without defined benefits and guaranteed pension. All central trade unions and government employees’ associations have been opposing the NPS and are on war path since its introduction. Because of their consistent struggle some state governments have decided to restore the OPS. But the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority is not ready to return back the money that was so collected in the name of NPS to these states.

Pension for farmers

Under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maandhan Yojana, a voluntary and contributory pension scheme, the small and marginal farmers having not more than two hectares of land can avail a monthly fixed pension after attaining the age of 60 years. They have to contribute Rs 55 to Rs 200 per month, depending upon their age, to the pension fund managed by LIC. Modi had announced this scheme in 2019 with his patent rhetoric that it would cover five crore farmers. But, as of now, only 21.4 lakhs farmers are enrolled.

Pension for unorganised workers including Agricultural Workers

Just before the 2019 general elections Modi announced what he claimed is a ‘mega pension scheme’, the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan for unorganised workers including agricultural workers. This is also a voluntary and contributory scheme where workers in the 18 -- 40 years age group have to contribute Rs 55 to Rs 200 per month till they attain the age of 60, after which she/he would receive a minimum assured pension of Rs 3000/- per month

There are approximately 42 crore unorganised workers in the country. But so far only 43.98 lakh people have been enrolled in this so called ‘mega pension scheme’!

Other pension schemes

Rs 200 per month is given as old age pension to BPL persons aged 60 and above under Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) under the National Social Assistance programme (NSAP). The NSAP covers around 4.2 crore beneficiaries.

Here it is pertinent to mention that some state governments have been paying Rs 2000 or more as old age pension in their respective states without any contributions from the beneficiaries at all. Kerala Government is paying Rs1600 to all senior citizens including EPF pensioners who are getting less than Rs 1000 pension from EPF-95 scheme.

Life insurance sector has a core beneficiaries of around 1.0 crore. Mutual funds have about 27 lakh folios. Other entities such as coal miners have about 20 lakh provident fund beneficiaries.

Private pension funds

Under the current neoliberal regime private pension fund companies are getting entrenched. They have been advocating to get rid of government guaranteed pension schemes. The corporate servile Modi regime is doing everything to dismantle the state assured pension schemes and allowing private pension merchants, including foreign pension funds to loot the workers and the people. International finance capital and its political operatives are hell bent to swallow the entire available corpus of the pension funds throwing the pensioners to the mercy of global financial markets!

 

Hence, CITU, AIKS, AIAWU demand; -

 

  • Universal pension to all old aged population not less than Rs. 3000 per month
  • Scrap the NPS; restore OPS
  • On EPS-95 we demands
  • Increase government contribution to the EPS-95 from the existing 1.16%of basic wages (basic pay plus dearness allowance) to 8.33% as recommended by the Parliament Committee on Petition headed by Shri Bhagat Singh Koshiyari.
  • Implement the Supreme Court Judgment dated 4-11-2022 on EPS-95
  • Exclusive contribution to pension fund by the employers
  • Minimum monthly pension of not less than Rs.9000
  • No statutory wage ceiling on pensionable salary; it should be the last drawn pay and not the average of 60 months
  • Indexation of pension.
  • Universal coverage of all workers irrespective of wages and number of workers employed.

The working class movement is facing tremendous challenges as well as opportunities

Tapan Sen
 

There is continuing systemic crisis of the capitalist order and its retrograde reflections on all aspects - political, economic and societal governance; in the authoritarian and divisive onslaughts by the ruling classes powered by corporate-communal nexus in governance in all fronts with clear fascistic intent.

The voice of disapproval and unrest of working people is becoming louder and widespread, bringing forth the reality of determined organised combat. We must vigorously work to bring this reality into concrete action by intensifying the united struggles both at sectoral and national level with continuity. The response of the toiling people in the calls of united struggle, sectoral or national, has been quite encouraging.

But, the opportunities have to be availed and potentials harnessed through conscious organized initiatives and that has to be done by the working class.

In this context, CITU has been adopting three pronged approach of developing united struggles for a determined combat– first, to strengthen independent actions and interventions of CITU; second, to step up the joint trade union movement, both sectoral and general; and third, to widen and deepen the Workers-Peasants unity and intensify their joint countrywide movement up to the grass-root level.

The Workers-Peasants unity in action is the most crucial necessity of the time, which has the tremendous potential of being instrumental in drawing the entire people in the determined combat against the perverse anti-people as well as anti-national design of the corporate communal nexus defeating the diversionary game plan of the ruling class.  This  has already attained a new height, and has to be heightened further. Their united struggles -- both by workers, the peasantry and agri-workers, on their respective demands and mutual supportive actions by each of the segments in support of one another’s struggles has already attained  a common point of culmination. All of them are confronting the onslaught of big-corporate-led governance together with communal divisive machinations affecting the lives and livelihood of the people and the society as a whole; and on the national economy.

In this direction, CITU had been taking the initiative since long to regularly hold joint exercise of CITU-AIKS-AIAWU to develop joint campaign on issues, carrying that initiative to grass root level with maximum participation and visibility. This initiative got a major breakthrough in 2018 when a massive country wide ‘Jail Bharo’ movement was organised on 9 August by these organisations which could reach the majority of the districts. It was followed by ‘Mazdoor-Kishan Sangharsh Rally’ on 5 September, 2018, which was biggest ever workers-peasants militant mobilization in the National Capital in post Independent Period.

The decades’ long working class actions and interventions against the neoliberal onslaughts could maintain continuity even after outbreak of Covid pandemic culminating into series of successful All India General Strikes even during 2020, and 2022 along with umpteen numbers of sectoral struggles and strikes which witnessed massive countrywide active support from peasantry.

And around the same period, different peasant organisations were also active in cementing deepened unity-in-action to assert more joint actions and interventions against the neo-liberal policy regime, which has already been aggravating agrarian crisis to an alarming level. In that context, we witnessed countrywide combative joint struggles by farmers, agricultural workers with the active support of working class movement which could make the RSS-BJP dispensation to kneel and compelled the Government to shelve the retrograde Land Acquisition Ordnance and anti-farmers Farm Laws.

The historic General Strike by working class of 26 November, 2020 also coincided with the beginning of historic more-than-year long farmers struggle against retrograde anti-farmer anti-people farm laws, engineered by the RSS-BJP Government bulldozing the Parliament. Now repealed, these farm laws were enacted targeting the destructions of peasants-agricultural productions to ultimately facilitate complete corporate takeover of the entire agricultural economy. The valiant protracted farmers struggle also demanded withdrawal of Electricity Amendment Bill (2020), designed to put an end to public sector power distribution system and large scale privatization.

The historic more than a year long farmers struggle also witnessed massive active support and solidarity actions by the working class movements countrywide with CITU in the frontline. All the programmes of sit-in demonstrations, agitations, Bandhs, spearheaded by SKM were pro-actively as well as physically supported by the entire working class movement. CITU played a crucial role in solidarity with those struggles.

In this process, in all subsequent occasions, SKM also extended their unfettered support to the struggles and agitations organised by Joint Platform of Trade Unions. These struggles and agitations by the two producing classes further consolidated the workers-peasants unity in action against their common enemy - the corporate-communal nexus in the Government. Every piece of struggles exhibited durable visibility.

The emerging workers-peasants united and concerted initiative, joint agitational activities against corporate loot and plunder of national wealth, corporate assault on lives and livelihoods of mass of the toiling people are becoming a gradual visible reality, which is of crucial importance in raising the united peoples struggle against the destructive anti-national neo-liberal policies together with virulent poisonous communal blitzkrieg on the society. And this tenor of struggles needs to be carried forward to further heights.

In this background, the Mazdoor Kisan Adhikar Mahadiveshan on 5 September 2022 decided to organize a massive Mazdoor Kisan Sangarsh Rally on 5 April 2023 as  the  culminating point of six months long joint  exposure campaign and mobilizations at the grass-root level preceding to that, and this is going to be the beginning of the new phase of relentless united fight of the workers, peasants and agricultural workers, the wealth creators of our country, to change the policies in their favour, not the few big Corporates, domestic and foreign and also the save the national economy from the destructive policies of the corporate-communal nexus in governance.  This is going to be will be the largest ever militant class mobilizations in the history of independent India.

The Rally is for expressing resolve in fighting back and resisting the barbarous regime of loot and plunder on the people reflecting  through – the relentless rise in prices, job losses, unemployment, worsening working and living conditions, rampant privatisation to hand over our national assets to the private Corporates, commercialisation of education, health and all other services, to throw our peasants and workers to the mercy of the monopoly multinational companies, the attacks on the democratic and workplace rights, violation of Constitutional and Parliamentary norms and practices, the cruel oppression of minorities, dalits, adivasis and women. Each and every one of these is linked to the neoliberal regime being adamantly and aggressively carried on by this BJP government; all in a desperate bid to protect the profits and wealth of its corporate masters.

While we make efforts to heighten united struggles against neo-liberalism, we have to simultaneously expose the poisonous divisive and diversionary designs of the corporate-communal nexus behind the present regime and mobilise all sections of the working class and toiling people against this. Hence, the Workers-Peasants joint struggle-initiatives, the united assertion of the two main producing classes of the society, must confront head-on the poisonous Hindutva project, premised on majoritarian communalism, politically and ideologically, at all levels upto the grass root level; while carrying on the struggles against the neoliberal corporate plunder-against their common enemy. We must prepare and equip all our cadres and activists for this combat as an integral part of our task of intensification of joint workers-peasants actions.

These three organisations will conduct massive campaign through distribution of leaflets, posters, wall writings, group meetings, jathas, processions etc on the issues and demands including local demands during the intervening six months, aiming to reach the unreached.

It must be kept in mind that the historic farmers struggle has compelled Modi govt to repeal the farm laws but at the same time govt despondently engaged in to push through privatization and corporatization of agriculture through back door channels. Despite giving firm commitment to farmers’ organisation on putting in place a statutory MSP regime along with an effective procurement machinery, the Govt is going back to gradually finish the MSP system itself, as reflected in the latest budgetary exercise.  It must also be kept in mind that Modi regime has become desperate in pushing through its destructive anti-national agenda on the political, economic and societal governance for their own class interest to facilitate criminal expropriation by the corporates, both foreign and domestic, on the people as well as the national wealth.

It is not the without reason, the Joint Platform of Trade Unions has termed their united struggles programmes not merely for upholding workers rights but also to safeguard the rights and entitlements of the  people and national interests from the destructive fallouts of corporate loot. Similarly, the SKM also, while asserting their demands for statutory MSP and legally guarantied procurement and other demands; trained their guns at big corporate community, which has been actually running the Modi Regime.

During the intervening period, we need to reach the working people in entirety with the call of the more direct combative struggles and the ugly face of the anti-national; anti-people destructive policy regime affecting the people, the society and the democratic system itself needs to be exposed. The intense grass-root level campaign among the workers and the people on the real face of the destructive policy regime and their perpetrators in governance and their poisonous role of creating disunity and disruption of among the people and the society to camouflage the crimes being committed on the people and the national economy needs to thoroughly exposed so that people can identify their real enemy. The 5th April Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally must be the culmination of such countrywide grass-root level exposure campaign and mobilization, paving the way for further heightened struggle against the corporate-comunl nexus in governance.  

The 17th All India Conference of CITU adopted a resolution on 5 April 2023 rally, stressing upon the call of intensive door to door and workplace level intensive campaign given by Mazdoor-Kisan Mahadhiveshan of 5 September 2022. The Conference called upon all its committees and committee members up to the primary unit level to further intensify the ongoing campaign reaching the family members of our members, reaching workers beyond our periphery, that these policies of the government lie at the root of each and every issue of the workers and toiling people and miseries being faced by them; that achieving their most genuine demands requires the decisive defeat of the communal corporate nexus in governance.

The CITU conference planned a concrete time bound action plan of program for the days ahead till the day of the rally. All the State committees of CITU should urgently meet to review the campaigns already undertaken and their coverage, to further intensify the campaign including preparatory steps for mobilization in the Rally and also to monitor their implementation up to the primary unit level.  CITU has chalked out a phased program for another round of house to house campaign followed by area-mahalla level programmes including jatha/padayatra etc followed by area level mobilizations to be undertaken by lower level coordination committees.

The common enemy has been identified by the producing classes of the society and against that a consistent protracted class war must be waged. The poisonous divisive machinations of the BJP regime is not going to get a walkover in the background of united struggles, with continuity, by the working class, the peasantry and the agricultural workers against these policies; and coming together of all sections of toiling people voicing their opposition to this barbarous regime gradually overcoming the poisonous divisive, disruptive and diversionary designs of the ruling classes and their present political agents in governance. People are ready to respond. We must reach them with the hard truth. Let’s make this Mazdoor Kishan Sangharsh Rally 2, the biggest ever militant class mobilization in the history of Independent India. 

The Modi-led BJP government is going all out to ensure ‘Amritkaal’ for cronies like Adani and Ambani by exploiting and looting workers and peasants. Pro corporate policies have brought the daily life of producing classes under heavy inflationary pressure. Prices of all essentials-rice, wheat, pulses, milk, curd, vegetables and so on are made to escalate. 

Unemployment is at an all-time high and socially marginalised sections are especially affected. While being utter insensitive to the burning problem of unemployment, the Modi regime is doing everything to annihilate existing legal rights of workers including minimum wages, eight hour working day and right to organise and do away with projects like MGNREGA which legally guarantee employment. In industry, employment relations are restructured to generate unbridled profit for corporates. Pro corporate agriculture policies of Modi regime are making agriculture unsustainable for all layers of peasantry while the written agreement to the farmer’ organisations, including that for guaranteed remunerative price, during the historic farmers’ struggle has been totally negated. Legal entitlements of the people for food , health and education are being curtailed.

The same time all democratic institutions are being dismantled and democratic rights are being curtailed. All voices of dissent against the ruling dispensation is met with draconian acts like UAPA. Communal venom is spread by the ruling RSS- BJP dispensation to divide the unity of the people on real issues.

In this premise, the wealth producing classes of India—workers, peasants and agricultural workers— under the leadership of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU) have jointly decided to intensify our ongoing struggles.

In a massive convention held in Delhi on 5th September 2022, it was decided to take up these issues to the people and mobilise them on demands of pro-people policies to ensure basic right to food, health, education, employment and fair and remunerative prices for our produce and fair and living wages for our work. As the culmination of this joint campaign, we are marching to Delhi in ‘Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally’ on 5th April 2023 demanding a life of dignity and security, a life that is free of fear and hatred towards each other. 

This is in continuation of our ongoing struggles in different joint platforms of workers and peasants – Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and Samyukta Kisan Morcha. This joint campaign and mobilisation will further consolidate and advance the joint struggles of the workers, farmers and agricultural workers.

To make Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally on 5th April 2023 a grand success, preparations are ongoing at State, District and local levels. Massive campaigns through distribution of leaflets, posters, wall writing, group meetings, jathas and processions are taking place throughout the country. There is an overwhelming enthusiastic participation of people in all forms of campaign. 

In the preliminary estimates, the mobilisation will exceed that of the Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally, the first one of its kind held on 5th September 2018 jointly by CITU, AIKS and AIAWU.

We call upon the workers, peasants and toiling masses of our country to March to Delhi on 5th April 2023 for dignity and rights. We call upon the people of India for solidarity, support and participation. 

Issued by,

Tapan Sen                                                Vijoo Krishnan                               B Venkat

General Secretary                                   General Secretary                    General Secretary

CITU                                                          AIKS                                                     AIAWU

 

 Annexure; The demands of the Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally

The demands of the Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally

1)    Ensure Minimum wages @Rs26,000 pm and Pension @Rs10,000 to all workers including the scheme workers; No contractorisation of work; Scrap Agnipath Scheme

 2)    Legally ensure MSP @C2+50%for all farm produce with guaranteed procurement

 3)    One time loan waiver by the Central government to all poor and middle peasants and agricultural workers; pension to all of them above 60 years

 4)    Scrapping of four Labour Codes and Electricity Amendment Bill 2022

 5)    Job security and guarantee for all; Expand MGNREGA and increase workdays to 200 with minimum wages @Rs600 per day; Pay all pending wages; Enact a National Urban Employment Guarantee Act

 6)    Stop Privatisation of PSUs and Public Services; Scrap National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP)

 7)    Arrest Price Rise, Withdraw GST on food items and essentials; Reduce the central excise duty on petrol/diesel/kerosene cooking gas substantially; Withdraw the increase in price of cooking gas forthwith

 8)    Universalise the Public Distribution System (PDS) and expand its scope to include 14 essential items; Ensure food and income support to all Non tax payer families

 9)    Stringent implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA); withdraw the amendments to Forest (Conservation) Act and Rules that allow the union government to permit clearance of a forest without even informing the residents.

 10) Stop repression of the marginalised sections and ensure social justice

 11) Ensure universal and quality Health and Education for all; Scrap New Education Policy (NEP) 2020

 12) Ensure Housing to all

 13) Tax the Super Rich; Enhance Corporate Tax; Introduce Wealth Tax

Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) empathetically condemns the brutal and barbarous attack on a delegation comprising Left and Congress MPs visiting violence hit areas of Tripura , untethered by BJP ruffians at Sipahijala district in Tripura. An orgy of organized violence that unleashed in Tripura soon after the announcement of assembly election result on March 2, 2023, is being continued, this time BJP rowdies did not even spare the  lawmakers of the country, the vile attacks on Left-Congress delegation  exculpates that BJP led State Government flagrantly patronizes such organized brutal attacks with a fascistic intent.

A fact finding team of MPs and MLAs of Left and Congress which arrived Tripura to look into the State Government sponsored Post-poll violence, was attacked by BJP miscreants at Nehalchandranagar in Sipahijala district, Once the delegation landed at Nehalchandranagar Market, they were attacked by the BJP goons raising slogans of ‘Jay Sri Ram’. One car was severely damaged while two more cars were also vandalized, with the police being a mute spectator.  At least 20 shops were gutted in the post poll violence at  Nehalchandranagar, a border village of Bishalgarh Sub-division on 8th March, 2023  and after the delegation reached the spot in the afternoon of 10th March, 2023,  to take stock of the situation it came under attack. 

CITU demands upon the Tripura state administration and law enforcement machinery to immediately intervene to restore law and order and put a stop to this  on-going violence and ensure protection and democratic rights to all in particular that of supporters  of opposition parties.

CITU calls upon its members and unions to organise protest actions against this bloodthirsty onslaughts of democracy and unbridling of terror politics by BJP in Tripura.

Issued by
Tapan sen
General Secretary

Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) congratulates the striking State Government Employees, Teachers and Non-Teaching staffs of West Bengal for their successful strike action on 10th, March, 2023, at the call of Joint Platform of the employees, teachers and non-teaching staffs, demanding Dearness Allowances with all arrears, recruitment of vacancies with transparency and regularization of irregular and contractual employees, stop politics of division and to restore democracy in the state.

The West Bengal State Government has become an enemy of its own employees since its inception, known for its anti-democratic arrogance towards every section of working people. In the state budget for 2023-2024, the government announced only a mere 3 percent hike in DA, despite 32 percent DA falling overdue that enraged the state government employees.  

Braving all repressive, prohibitive and punitive measures by the state government, striking employees picketed before the gates of state government offices and educational institutions demanding that DA to be raised to the level of central Government employees, the striking employees squatted in front of the gates of State Government Offices like Writers Building, Bikash Bhavan, Khadya Bhavan , Kolkata Municial Corporation, Shilpo Bhavan and many other places. The similar protest and demonstrations were witnessed in district headquarters town, block development offices and municipalities and panchayats.

CITU fully supports the demands of the state government employees of West Bengal and demands upon the West Bengal State Government to resolve the legitimate demands of the employees. CITU, while expressing solidarity to the striking state government employees of West Bengal, denounced anti democratic arm-twisting act of West Bengal Government.

Issued by
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

 

Centre of Indian Trade Unions condemns the authoritarian move of arrests/repression on the peacefully striking employees and engineers of Electricity sector in Uttar Pradesh by the BJP Govt in the state.

At the call of Vidyut Karmachari Sanjukta Sangharsh Samity, electricity employees and engineers in Uttar Pradesh have been on three day’s strike demanding nothing more than implementation/honouring  of the agreement/understanding with the state government arrived at on 3rd December 2022. The Govt has gone back from the assurance/agreement without any rhyme or reason. After more than three months long persuasion by the unions having failed, the SanjuktaSangharshSamity decided for a three days strike action that started on 16th March 2023 while simultaneously pursuing the state govt to honour the agreement of 3rd December.

The strike was total by the employees and engineers enmasse despite threat and intimidation by the state administration. The BJP Govt, true to its anti-people authoritarian undemocratic character has now decided to pounce upon the striking employees and their leaders through mass scale arrests and other intimidatory actions  besides mass scale suspension of the striking employees and engineers.

The SanjukataSangharshSamity is determined to continue and heighten their struggle against the state Govt’s highhandedness despite committing grave offence of breach of agreement.  The National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEE) has already decided to hold countrywide protest action.

CITU denounces the authoritarian and highhanded action of the BJP Govt on the peacefully striking electricity employees and engineers. CITU calls upon the working class and its affiliate unions in particular to organize protest actions throughout the country in solidarity with the striking electricity employees of Uttar Pradesh.

Issued by
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

The Hon’ble Minister for Finance 
Government of India
New Delhi-110001

Dear Madam,

Sub: Govt order on AADHAR link with PAN

The Finance Act, 2017 with effect from 1st April, 2017, has inserted section 139AA in the Income-tax Act, 1961, making it mandatory for a taxpayer who is eligible to obtain Aadhaar, to quote his/her Aadhaar in the application form for PAN and submitting the return of income. Thus the sub-section (2) of section 139AA of Income-Tax Act makes it mandatory for every person who has been allotted a PAN as on 1st July, 2017 to intimate his/her  Aadhaar Number so that the Aadhaar and PAN can be linked. This is required to be done on or before a notified date, failing which the PAN shall become inoperative.

We have serious reservation on making the Aadhar linkage with everything universal and compulsory. That apart, here, the manner the provision of Aadhar linkage with PAN is being sought to be implemented, requires serious reconsideration and review even for the sake of ensuring coverage of all the tax payers as well as PAN card holders within the stipulated date. 

I understand that last year, in March, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) issued a circular stating that the PAN issued to a person would become out of service, if it is not linked with AADHAR by March 31, 2023, and would be accountable to all the consequences under the Income-tax Act, 1961, for not furnishing, intimating or quoting the PAN. This is required to be done on or before the notified date, falling which the PAN shall become inoperative.

I like to impress upon you that such circulars/notifications issued by CBDT or any other government agency or the provisions of IT Act in this regard still remained  unnoticed by majority of the population as a result of which common citizens would naturally become the ultimate victims. Kindly also appreciate that wide publication to get the AADHAR – PAN linkage should have been given by the government before contemplating any such drastic penal actions on the gullible citizens and honest taxpayers of our country.

In view of this, I would request you to intervene and arrange to extend the facility of such AADHAR – PAN linkage free of any cost for at least a period of another one year, if not more, and for which wide publicity through electronic and print media be given so that common people can avail the procedure and are not subjected to any penal action like the PAN becoming inoperative.

Your urgent intervention is solicited.

With regards,
Yours Sincerely,
(Tapan Sen)
General Secretary

 

Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) condemns the authoritarian move of Maharashtra Government to invoke the draconian Maharashtra Essential Service Maintenance Act (MESMA) to threaten and repress the striking State Government Employees and Teachers, who are in strike from 14th March 2023 midnight.

The Strike was called upon by the Maharashtra Samanvay Samiti – the Coordination Committee of State Govt. & Semi-Govt. Employees, Teachers and non-Teaching employees’ Organisations, having strong 17 Lakhs members spread over all the districts of Maharashtra. The Samanvay Samiti submitted the Strike Notice on 24th February 2023 with a Charter demanding the Restoration of the Old Pension Scheme, Regularisation of the Contractual/ Outsourced Employees & Teachers and Filling-up of the 2.75 lakhs vacant posts in State Services.

But the BJP Alliance Maharashtra Govt. didn’t pay any heed to the agitating State Government Employees. Just the day before the Strike, on 13th March, 2023 a meeting was called within a very short Notice by the Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra Govt. This meeting was attended by the Steering Committee of the Samanvay Samiti. There was no fruitful proposal from Govt. side. Immediately after the obvious failure of the meeting the Chief Minister Shri Eknath Shinde and the Dy CM Shri Devendra Phadnavis suddenly called the Samanvay Samiti leadership and asked to withdraw Strike without any commitment from Govt’s part. There was no option left for the Striking employees except going for indefinite Strike.

The Strike is total by the employees and teachers enmasse despite threat and intimidation by the state administration. The BJP alliance Govt, true to its anti-people authoritarian undemocratic character has now decided to pounce upon the striking employees and their leaders through invoking MESMA. Defying all such draconian orders the Maharashtra state employees are continuing their strike more unitedly.

CITU wants to assure the Striking Employees that the strike of electricity workers has compelled the Maharashtra State Govt. to stall the intrusion of Adani in Maharashtra Electricity Distribution Sector in the month of January of this year; the Kisan Long March kneeled down the Govt just 2 days back. CITU believes that the valiant Striking State Government Employees will emerge victorious in their rightful struggle. CITU calls upon the working class and its affiliate unions in particular to organize protest actions throughout the country in solidarity with the striking State Govt. Employees of Maharashtra.

Issued by
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

Thursday, 02 March 2023 11:28

Onward to 17th Conference of CITU

Tapan Sen

Global capitalist order is passing through the deepest crisis ever with unprecedented recession-stagnation-inflation, rise of right-populist-authoritarianism and endless attacks on the toiling masses; followed by heroic events of gallant Resistances and Revolts.

Rightwing Economic, Communal & Authoritarian Attacks

It is promoting the pervert private accumulations through non-productive routes arising from state-sponsored monopolistic exercise, interests, rents, speculative gains and other forms of extractions. The state-sponsored encroachment-coercion-generated surplus has colossally surpassed the “production linked profit”; expropriation has taken over appropriation. Prolonging recessionary situation with unprecedented accumulation in fewer hands, along with widening/deepening of mass impoverishment, widening the gap between production and purchasing power of people and, hence, under-consumption. These are all the expressions of inevitable structural vulnerability of the capitalist system.

The global systemic crisis has grievously impacted the Indian economy, politics and society with the rise of the most authoritarian right-wing divisive regime after independence. The regime is also thoroughly anti-people and avowedly pro-corporate and pro-big business, being displayed by all its legislative, administrative and societal policy drives which are also damaging the national economy. The path of horizontal expansion of the economy, so long followed despite all systemic limitations, has been totally subverted to promote vertical centralisation of control of the economy with deeper monopolisation in favour of large corporate class, both foreign and domestic. Along with that, consistent machinations are going on the democratic system towards rabid authoritarian onslaught on constitutional provisions, democratic rights and right to expression and dissent through numerous administrative measures like UAPA, framing of sedition cases and various other manners.

And, the most crucial has been the aggressive onslaught of communal divisive machinations on the society aimed at communal polarization by the RSS/BJP bandwagons with the active patronization of administration. The aim is to desperately push through their project of majoritarian Hindutva regime to create a sense of terror among the minorities and also to create an overarching Hindutva identity among the people cutting across the social-ethnic divide; finally to divert the attention of the people from the increasing disaster on their lives and livelihood and at the same time facilitate the consolidation of the right wing authoritarian regime. 

These, in fine, reveal the comprehensive project of the ruling class to sustain their loot in the midst of aggravating systemic crisis through complete authoritarianisation of the entire system of governance being pushed through by the corporate-communal nexus in governance at the Centre. 

With this aggravation of the crisis, more desperate move is being made by the ruling class to further restructure and overhaul the economy management in more retrograde as well as authoritarian direction which is intensifying the destructive onslaught both on the lives of the people and also on the national economy. 

It continues to shower tax concessions/incentives/rebates through various routes to the rich and tried to balance the loss in revenue through a phenomenal rise in indirect taxes on the working people. The Modi government had done away with the wealth tax in 2016 which was followed by reduction in corporate tax rate from 30% to 22% in 2019. Subsequently, concessional corporate tax at 15% has been introduced for the new entrepreneurs, which is also being availed by big corporate through proxy. Over and above, the tax administration has been so tuned and tutored that every year around Rs 5 to 7 lakh crore remain uncollected/unpaid by the corporate on account of income and corporate taxes.

Simultaneously, burden of indirect tax has been phenomenally increased through GST regime and even on the food items, milk and essential medicines. Indirect tax on petro products saw the steepest increase. Excise duty on petrol was Rs 9.48 per litre and Rs 3.56 on diesel in 2014 and rose to a record Rs 32.98 and Rs 31.83, respectively, in May 2020. The extraction on common people on account of fuel related tax and pricing has increased through this draconian expropriation mechanism by 186% during 2014-15 and 2021-22 from Rs 1.72 lakh crore to Rs 4.92 lakh crore. In FY 2021, India’s direct tax collection was 9.45 lakh crores (4.7% of GDP) while the indirect tax collection was at 10.71 lakh crores (5.4% of GDP and more than 53% of the total tax collection) where as the OECD countries’ average for indirect tax is around 33% of the total tax collection.

The government of the day shamelessly speeded up the process of organized pilferage of Banking system’s resources by way of legitimizing deliberate debt-default to big corporate through Insolvency Bankruptcy Procedure being operated by National Company Law Tribunal. Now the debt defaulter companies reporting bankruptcy will be dealt by National Company Law Tribunal and whole procedure will end up with another private corporate taking over in lieu of small fraction of the total debt liability of the bankrupt company. Rest of the debt amount will be foregone by the Bank; such illegitimate sacrifice forced upon the concerned Bank is termed as Haircut.

Phasing out the subsidy and allocation on welfare/social accounts has been another driving feature of neoliberalism; during Modi-regime it attained a disastrous height. The food subsidy has been slashed by more than 27%, by around Rs 80,000 crore in the 2022-23 Budget in the face of increase in intensity of hunger. Similarly, the fertiliser subsidy has been cut to Rs 1,05,222 crore in 2022-23, a nearly 25% drop.

Inflation has already crossed the RBI prescribed limit. This in the background of continuously depressing income situation for the people at large, leads to lesser consumption and thereby drastic cut in capacity utilization in industries and services, thereby degenerating the employment and income situation further, fall in investment and resultant destruction of employment and productive forces. This vicious cycle of inflation-stagnation with recession demonstrates the nauseating perversion in the economy. 

The conspired attack on labour by the ruling class to put the whole burden of crisis is simultaneously three-folded, one is to informalise the formal sector; second, to increasing application of automation and Artificial intelligence in the manufacturing and another is to enhance GIG and service sector dependence in economy. The result is decline of employment together with faster pace of informlisation of employment relations in various formats.

(a) Greater informalisation, fragility and heterogeneity in the same workplace are taking place across the sectors accompanied by downsizing of workforce; (b) direct loot on the people setting in faster motion of expropriation process with imposition of huge indirect tax-burden and other forms of rents over infrastructural assets and natural resources, unmistakably accompanied by sharp reduction of direct taxes on corporate/big businesses together with various rebates and exemptions; and (c) opening up of new avenues  of profiteering both in industries, services, infrastructure and public utilities for the private corporates practically without or least investment on their part, with Govt. support and huge subsidy from public exchequer to pave the path of further assured wealth accumulation for them.

Casualisation and contractualisation of workforce in various formats were being incessantly pursued in the manufacturing as well as infrastructure and services for long. With the advent of automation and modernization of technologies, the decline of permanent workers in manufacturing sector had been speeded up, while the contract workers had been pushed towards the level of pauperisation burdened with an unimaginable physical and mental distress.

The share of contract workers in total workforce in the public sector manufacturing and engineering industries has already crossed more than 50 to 60 per cent and in certain sectors like petroleum, BHEL, powergrid, NTPC, NHPC etc has reached over 70 to 75% on the average or more. In addition to that, a newer and evidently hitherto the most fragile labour force is emerging in the form of apprentices/ trainees through various govt sponsored schemes like ‘On Job Trainees (OJTs)’, ‘Long Term Trainee Employees (LTTEs)’, ‘Learn while you Earn’, ‘Junior Executives’, ‘Fixed Term Employees (FTEs)’ or ‘NEEM’, ‘NETAP’ and ‘SITA’ scheme trainees etc. Permanent workers are conspicuously reduced to insignificant presence; even below 10% of the total workforce in some industries.

The newest plot of ruling-class is to further lower the labour-cost by recruiting more and more number of apprentices/trainees in core production processes in practically no-wages while making their existence completely vulnerable by amending the labour laws (IR Code) by excluding apprentices/trainees from the definition of workmen. And to this end, the Modi Govt got the Apprenticeship Act 1961 and the related Rules of 1992 amended in 2015 and 2019 respectively.

For enhancing the productivity of every unit of labour, intensity of work and increase in workload per labour time, sometimes in terms of minutes or fraction thereof are taking place. Automation and resultant obvious de-skilling are continuously outmoding the necessity of dedicated-task-specific experienced labour-power. The mode of production is moving towards a direction where the fresh trainee-batches with a huge reserve army of unemployed vocationally educated youths, with the most state-of-the-art knowledge of automation and technology and skill to learn fast are going to be burdened with the whole core responsibility of the production process.

Entire exercise of restructuring is aimed at, further depressing the employment situation, and totally informalise the already fragile employment relations in the organized sector as well so that the very basic concept statutory fixed working hours, minimum wages and social security along with the right to organize and collective action are completely eliminated circumstantially from the workplaces and condition of virtual slavery is imposed. Enactment of Labour Codes has already set the motion in that direction. 

Resistance and struggles

Working class struggle must comprehend this entire process of restructuring of employment relations as well as economy/asset management to effectively combat the same through the heightened struggle both for resistance as well as for change towards pro-people alternative.

Towards this end, while heightening the level of united struggles of the toiling class premised on the comprehensive understanding of the new attacks of so called restructuring towards  promoting perverted crony capitalist order, the working class also must unfailingly intensify its consistent organized conscious interventions to combat the disastrous machinations of hindutva ideology on the society by the corporate-communal regime. It is a political and ideological fight as well, which must intensify along with the organized class-combat.

The 17th Conference of CITU has been tasked with to strategies the organised united combat against the anti-people and anti-national regime with full comprehension of the comprehensive strategy of corporate-communal nexus in governance in all its facets.

 

 

 

 

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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