Current issues

Current issues (39)


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

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

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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.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 19:03

The New Year and the Struggles Ahead

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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!”

Employees Provident Fund related Employees Pension Scheme, being implemented from 1995, is being amended to ensure a minimum Pension of Rs.1000/- and also to increase the eligibility wage ceiling to Rs.15,000 per month from the existing Rs.6500.

The decision on this was taken in a urgently called meeting of the Central Board of Trustees on 5th February.

All the Trade Union representatives in the CBT welcomed the much delayed amendments, but raised various points regarding the Pension Scheme and also on other proposals placed in the meeting. CITU’s representative in CBT, A.K. Padmanabhan attended the meeting.

It has been a long pending demand of Trade Unions to raise the minimum pension and also other amendments to the Scheme. The issue of minimum pension of Rs.1000 was one of the 10 points on which the United Trade Union movement has been agitating and had conducted countrywide strikes. EPS Pensioners organizations have also been conducting various struggles.

This long pending issue, was studied by an expert committee in 2010, and was discussed by CBT. In the year 2012, the issue was referred to the Cabinet and was pending there for the last two years.

From the beginning

The history of struggle against the EPS 1995, dates back to its origin. The working people in the country, especially those who did not have any kind of pension scheme, have been demanding pension as a third benefit in addition to gratuity and Provident Fund. Instead of finding a solution to that Govt. hit upon the idea of this Employees Pension Scheme, which was compulsorily implemented.

Studying the Scheme in depth CITU has pointed out many problems and demanded overhauling the scheme to ensure benefits to workers. But, the Government put forth many dubious arguments and even Supreme Court accepted those arguments to `prove’ that the Scheme was beneficial to workers. CITU had also conducted a countrywide one day strike on this issue.

When years passed away, the points raised by the unions against the Scheme were found to be genuine. Paltry amounts of `pension’ roused anger among workers. Even now, 2.92 lakhs of pensioners are getting less than Rs.250 per month. Actually the amount now being received varies from Rs. 2 upwards.

More than 27 lakhs of pensioners are getting less than Rs.1000 per month.

In between, in the year 2008, certain important benefits like commutation of one third of pension for 100 months as lump sum and also clause on `return of capital’ were unilaterally withdrawn. These two benefits were the main points through which the Supreme Court was convinced in the case against the compulsory pension scheme.

Finance Ministry’s Demands

The present amendments on minimum pension and increase in ceiling was approved by the Finance Ministry on 21st January. According to the note of Finance Ministry circulated in CBT, the above said proposals for amendments are interlinked and are part of comprehensive proposals.

The following are the major proposals, which were also discussed in the CBT.

  • The proposal for ensuring minimum pension is only for a year (2014-15) and will be implemented from 1st April 2014. To enable the increase a budgetary allocation of Rs.1217.03 crores will be made.
  • Trade Union representative in CBT, protested against the `One year only’ proposal. Even the Labour Dept. felt that the Scheme cannot be amended for one year only. They also pointed out that `once modifications are introduced it would not be possible to roll then back’.
  • Finally, the Labour Minister, Shri Oscar Fernandez agreed that he will ensure that the increased pension not be curtailed after one year.
  • Many of the other proposals of Finance Ministry were such that the workers interests will be affected. CITU and other T.U. representatives emphatically stated that existing benefits should not be curtailed or reduced.
  • The calculation of Pensionable salary is now the average of the last 12 months wages. Proposal was to change this to the average of last 60 months wages. This will surely reduce the pensionable salary and also pension amount.
  • Govt. of India contributes 1.16% of the wages towards EPS. When the wage ceiling is being increased. Govt. wants to limit this contribution. Suggestions are that those who are above wage ceiling and voluntarily contributes to EPF will not be given this 1.16% and the workers themselves to be asked to pay the 1.16% from their contribution. Other suggestions include limit 1.16% upto Rs.15,000 even for those who are members of EPS from a lower wage level.
  • Trade Unions wanted all the existing practices in the case of ceiling of 6500 to continue, when ceiling is raised to 15,000.
  • Now, the members who have not rendered eligible service for pension at the time of their exit are entitled to a lumpsum withdrawal benefit. Finance Ministry wanted the deletion of the option for withdrawal.
  • The worker representatives protested and even the Labour Ministry said that it “would not be justifiable, given the fact that the government at present can not guarantee continuity of service or alternative job/work for any member who lose his employment”.
  • Another suggestion was to increase the age limit for Pension to 60 from 58. T.U. representatives made it clear that this can not be accepted unless the superannuation of workers are increased to 60, which in many industrial establishments is 58.
  • Another proposal is to increase the reduction rate which is 4% per year to 6%. This rate was earlier 6%, which was reduced to 3% and then increased to 4% in 2008. Reduction rate is applicable when pensioners get “early pension”.
  • This will also lead to reduction of existing benefits.
  • Finance Ministry wanted to change the existing investment pattern of corpus in EPS. Trade Unions had earlier rejected the proposals to investment funds in share market. Once again this was rejected by T.U. representatives and it was insisted that investment guidelines should be decided only by CBT.
  • The proposal for fixation of pension after changes in ceiling is that from 1st April 2014, pro-rate pension will be calculated, instead of calculating total pension on the basis of wages at the time of retirement.

There is also a proposal to add a proviso that “Central Govt. may make such rules as it may deem necessary for increasing, decreasing, continuing or discontinuing such subsidy or part there of in respect of all or any category of family pensioners”.

CITU objected to this vehemently as unilateral decision by Govt. will only result in negating benefits. Labour Minister was justifying the proposal of Govt.

On Commutation

CITU’s representative took up the issue of continued exploitation of those pensioners who are getting commuted pension even after the period of 100 months, for which they had commuted their pension. CITU has been demanding restoration of the original pension after the amount is recovered.

Employers Demand

Employers representatives said that they are against increasing wage ceiling to 15,000 in one stretch. They wanted it to be raised only to Rs.10,000 now and to 15,000 at a later stage. They had also raised that the small and medium enterprises will be affected due to increased expenses. All these points were sufficiently refuted by T.U. representatives.

Though the issue of Minimum pension is accepted by Govt., what they will finally do with other proposals will be known only when the Govt. finalizes the notification on this.

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Trade Unions will have to be prepared to see that no existing benefit is curtailed. Our struggle for implementation of the long pending demands of increase in Pension to all Pensioners, linking pension to Cost of Living Index, Restoration of Commutation of Pension and Return of Capital benefits have to be taken up effectively.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 18:53

CITU calls for Country wide Campaigns and Struggles

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National Secretariat of the CITU, meeting in Delhi on 31st January and 1st February has called upon all its affiliates to conduct countrywide campaigns and agitations on two important issues confronting large number of workers in the country.

The meeting took note of the fact that despite being discussed in the highest level tripartite meetings and consensus based decisions being taken, the Govt. of India has not been refusing to take steps to control the increasing exploitation of workers under the ever growing contractor system. It is also a fact that Public Sector as well as Private Sector are equally responsible for this cruel system of exploitation.

While the Labour Department of Govt. of India had accepted the necessity of amending the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, the governmental machinery has been inactive in taking steps towards implementation of that decision.

Struggles are being conducted in various sectors in different parts of the country by the Contractor Workers. More than 50 to 60 percent of the workers in the organized sector in the country are now under Contractor system, without getting proper wage and also without various statutory benefits.

CITU Secretariat has decided to conduct a weeklong intensive campaign from 15 to 21st February which will converge in statewide demonstration/rallies and mobilizations on 20th or 21st February.
On Scheme Workers

45th Indian Labour Conference in May 2013, had reached a consensus on the demands of more than 1 crore of workers in various schemes of the Govt. of India. In Schemes of various states also such workers are there in large numbers.

Govt. has refused to take follow up actions on the decisions which are for recognizing them as workers, fixation of minimum wages, pension and other Social Security Benefits to all the Scheme Workers.

A weeklong intensive campaign from 10th to 17th February will be conducted through demonstrations and rallies in all States.

In the meanwhile Mid Day Meal Workers will organize a massive demonstration before the Parliament on 13th February, protesting against non implementation of the assurance to increase their wages. Workers from the nearby states will be participating in this demonstration.
On March 8

CITU Secretariat has called upon all the State Committees, Federations and Unions to observe 8th March – the International Women’s Day. CITU has decided to focus on three major issues – ensure equality in all aspects for all working women, ensure safety for all working women and effective measures to curb all kinds of violence against women, pass the women’s reservation Bill immediately.

These issues are to be highlighted among both men and women workers during the observance of the Day.

Greetings to Tamil Nadu Committee

CITU Secretariat greeted and congratulated its Tamil Nadu State Committee for the State wide campaign on the struggle of Maruti Workers and for collecting Solidarity Funds for the workers in the Manesar Plant of Maruti. 147 workers are in Jail for more than 18 months and thousands have been thrown out of job in that plant.

In a function organized by Gurgaon CITU, on 30th January, A. Soundera Rajan, President of Tamilnadu State Committee had handed over Rupees Five lakhs to the Maruti Workers Union. Tapen Sen, General Secretary CITU and leaders of Haryana State CITU were present.

Tamil Nadu CITU has also contributed Rs. 50 thousand to the Haryana State Committee for their struggle fund.

CITU has called upon its committees to emulate Tamil Nadu State Committee in strengthening the Solidarity activities.

Workshop on Working Women

A national workshop on working women was organized by CITU on 29th and 30th January. Attended by members of the All India Working Women’s Co-ordination Committee (CITU) and also the President/General Secretary of the CITU State Committees, the workshop decided on organizational activities among working women. This workshop was a follow up to the decisions of the All India Conference of CITU in April 2013 and the All India Convention of working women in Puri in October 2013.

Secretariat called upon all the State Committees to take necessary organizational decisions to implement the workshop’s recommendations.
On Political Campaigns and Solidarity

Secretariat held discussions on the political situation in the country. It condemned the continuing attacks on the democratic movement in West Bengal by the Goons of the ruling party in the State. Secretariat decided to continue the campaign and struggles upholding the alternate policies to the neo-liberal policies of the ruling classes.

CITU Secretariat welcomed the decisions of Untied Forum of Bank Union (UFBU) to go for a 48 hours of strike on 10th and 11th February and also the 2 day country wide strike of the Central Govt. employees on 12th and 13th of February. This strike has been called by the Confederation of Central Govt. Employees and Workers. CITU also expressed solidarity with the struggle of Defence Production Workers and the indefinite strike from 17th February called by the three national federations. CITU called for solidarity actions for these struggles.

CITU Secretariat, prior to taking up other agendas paid homage to leaders of CITU and other democratic organizations, Kali Ghosh, Mrinal Das, Soumen Kundu, Daulat Ram, Shyamali Gupta, Suman Sazgiri, Shanti Shekhar Basu, Abdul Kareem Mia(Assam), Suresh (Plantation Federation), T.S. Rajan (Telecom) who had passed away recently. Meeting also paid homage to Nelson Mandela and Pete Seeger.

CITU Secretariat paid homage to the SFI leader Saifuddin Mollah killed by TMC goons and to other Martyrs and victims of brutality in West Bengal.


Wednesday, 12 February 2014 18:51

8th March and our tasks

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It is hundred and four years since the International Women’s Day is being observed all over the world. The day, which used to be the day of working women, has now become International Women’s day, focusing on the demands of women as a whole.

It is also to be noted that, as on other occasions nowadays, this day of struggle is being commercially exploited by vested interests. This, at the same time, is also utilised to divert the attention from the realities – the class exploitation and oppression being perpetrated against women.

The call for the observance of the day internationally had come from Clara Zetkin, a well known Socialist leader from Germany. It was aimed at focusing the contributions of women and also as an occasion to press the demands of women. It was sought to be an opportunity for women workers and other women to strengthen the struggle against the exploitative system in existence and to move towards a progressive, socialist society!

It is to be noted that initially March 19 was decided as the date for holding the first International Women’s Day. This day was chosen as it was on this day in 1848 that intense working class struggles broke out in Prussia forcing the King to agree in principle, to universal suffrageWomen’s Day on 19th March 2011 received tremendous response from women in several countries in Europe. The day was observed demanding `women’s right to work, to equal wages, to vote, to hold public office and to end other forms of discrimination. In 1913, the observation of International Women’s Day was shifted to March 8, the day when women garment workers in New York went on strike in 1857.

It is interesting that the Russian Revolution too started off with huge demonstrations on International Women’s Day on 1917 with thousands of working class women marching in the cold snow covered streets of St Petersburg demanding bread for their hungry children and the return of their men from the War.

If we look into the demands raised on the occasion of International Women’s Day in 1911 and the demands being raised by women today, we can see that the situation has not changed much. Even more than a hundred years later, in 2014, the demands are almost the same as in 1911.

CITU and Women Workers

CITU can be proud of the fact that it was the first among the central trade unions, to organise a national level Working Women’s Convention in April 1979 and to form an All India Co-ordination Committee of Working Women (AICCWW). This sub-committee of CITU was formed, fully understanding the necessity of taking a new initiative to correct the imbalance in the trade union movement and also rectify many prejudices that existed.

Explaining the background of formation of AICCWW, founder President of CITU, Com. B.T. Ranadive said – ‘The CITU had to take the decision to call a special conference because it was found that the grievances of working women were unattended; the government was indifferent; the employers were hostile; and even the trade unions were not very enthusiastic about their demands. In the so many strikes that the working class fought there were very few instances when the special demands of the working women were given prominence.

It was also found that women, even in industries and occupations where they formed a sizeable section were hardly represented in the leading bodies of the union.

This state of affairs was partly due to the disabilities, which women suffer from in a society like the Indian society. The inferior status assigned to women in both Hindu & Muslim communities is known to all. That discrimination doggedly pursues the working women and it is the elementary duty of the trade unions to fight against it. We cannot say that our workers and some of our trade union leaders are free from this discriminatory outlook towards women.’ (Presidential Address – 4th All India Conference of CITU)

It is gratifying now to find that many of the Central Trade Unions in the country and also various independent national federations have formed working women’s committees. Various problems of working women at their place of work and other issues have come to the fore during this period.

Another achievement during this period has been unionisation of large number of women workers in various sectors – unorganised, organised and large chunk of exploited working women in various schemes of the central and state governments. Militant struggles have been conducted by these women workers who were able to snatch some gains from the unwilling hands of the government and employers.

Miles to go

CITU is also proud of the fact it could mobilise lakhs of women workers under its banner, conduct struggles and develop a good number of women workers as active cadres and leaders of the organisation.

But, CITU is also aware the limitations of the gains achieved and that is has miles and miles to go to achieve its aims and objectives outlined on various occasions from 1979.

The 14th All India Conference in April 2013 and the 10th All India Convention of AICCW in September - October 2013 critically analysed the achievements and also the tasks ahead. Several short comings that need to be overcome urgently have been noted.

On the whole, the involvement and the guiding role of CITU committees at various levels need further strengthening. Issues of working women need to be on the top of the agendas for unions and federations in which there are women workers in considerable numbers.

It was with this aim a national workshop involving central and state leaderships of CITU and the members of AICCWW was held a few days ahead of the International Women’s Day, where serious discussions were held and decisions taken as called upon by the All India Conference of CITU.
CITU expects that these decisions will pave the way for strengthening the women workers initiatives, their improved involvement in trade union activities and moving further up on the ladder to leadership positions in the unions and committees.

AICCWW will also be working with working women’s sub-committees of fraternal organisations in strengthening the class oriented functioning among women workers.
8th March 2014

CITU has called upon all its affiliates to organise meetings, demonstrations, dharnas, deputations etc on the occasion of International Women’s Day this year, focusing on some important demands. It has called upon all its committees and affiliated unions to ensure that these observations involve both men and women in large numbers. The issues being raised can not be considered as women’s issues alone and unless these are not addressed, the entire society and working class in particular will continue to suffer.

Equality in all aspects

One of the issues to be focused is equality in all aspects. This issue is not confined to equal wages for equal work, though it is a very important demand of women workers. Equal status to women is today being denied in every aspect of life. Discrimination begins from the birth of a girl child and goes on in education, employment, wages, promotion opportunities, social life and in the political sphere.

As far as wages are concerned a recent study on Gender Pay Gap in formal sector 2006-13 gives an idea about the Indian situation. “According to the report the gender gap in India in 2013 increased with age, higher education and qualifications. Women with education of below 10th class earned 9.37% less than men while women with professional qualification like CA/CS/ICWA or equivalent earn 44.25% less than men! Women with work experience of 16 to 30 years earned 24.96% less than men whereas women with work experience of 31 years or more earned 78.23% less than men!”

If this is the situation in the formal sector, the situation in informal sector is worse. “According to the data provided by the Labour Bureau in April 2013, the gap between the wages of men and women in some activities has widened in the last decade. The data show that while men were paid Rs.212 a day for ploughing women were paid Rs.123; for sowing men were paid Rs.185 and women Rs.148; for harvesting the wages were Rs.179 for men and Rs.149 for women. The wages paid for well digging for men were Rs.254 whereas they were a mere Rs.145 for women. In case of unskilled non agricultural work the wages were Rs.179 for men and Rs.135 for women.” (Documents of 10th Convention of AICCWW)

It is very important that the trade unions take up these issues very seriously and ensure equality in all aspects of life.

Violence and Safety

There has been a horrendous increase in violence against women. Shocking incidents of violence are reported almost every hour from different parts of the country.
The report adopted in the 10th convention of AICCWW noted “one third of all women are reported to be victims of sexual or physical violence. 38% female murder victims are killed by intimate partners. Every three minutes, a crime is committed against a woman; every nine minutes, a woman suffers cruelty from her husband or relative; every twenty-nine minutes, a woman is raped; and every seventy seven minutes, a dowry death takes place in the county. According to the report of the National Crime Records Bureau released in 2013 there was 902% increase in cases of rape between 1971 and 2012. In 2010, the number of rapes, molestations, harassment and abductions of women in India, was more than 2.13 lakhs, i.e. 585 cases every day. This is most certainly only a fraction of the real number, because women often do not report these crimes and prefer to suffer in silence. These shocking statistics mirror the status of women in our country.”

The neo liberal policies of globalisation, and commercialisation and commodification of women aggravate the violence. Added to this general situation is the sexual harassment, which the women workers face not only at the work spots but also during their travel etc.

Though the much delayed legislation on sexual harassment of women at work places has been enacted, there are a several deficiencies in this legislation. These harassments, especially at work places, can be resisted only when the trade union leadership and workers as a whole are sensitised on the necessity of collective intervention. This is where much improvement has to take place.

Reservation in legislatures

CITU is again focusing on the issue of women’s reservation in legislature. The bill which was adopted with much fanfare in Rajya Sabha has not been taken up in the Lok Sabha for `want of consensus’ which is not going to happen. This issue exposes the lack of commitment of the leading political parties in the country. It is a fact that only the Left parties and a few of the regional parties are for enacting this bill and many others do only lip service.

CITU calls up on all the unions to take up these important issues during the campaign and observance of the International Women’s Day this year. CITU also calls upon all its committees and affiliated unions to take up continuous activities for the implementation of the organisational tasks identified by the 14th All India Conference and the 10th All India Convention of Working Women.


Sunday, 09 February 2014 18:15

Resolution Against Government’s Water Policy

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This 14th conference of CITU, being held from 4th to 8th April, 2013 at Kannur, condemns the Water Policy, 2012 of the Government of India directing the state governments to realize water charges on ‘production cost’, privatization through PPP route and to establish independent regulatory authority and, thereby, withdrawing from government’s responsibility of providing water for drinking, household use and agricultural use particularly by the toiling sections.

The UDF government in Kerala decided enactment to corporatize this vital service sector by establishing Kerala Drinking Water Supply Company Ltd with majority private shareholding and bringing entire state under its coverage. Similar steps are being taken in other states also like Delhi Jal Board is being privatized beginning in four areas under slogan of 24/7 supply; Maharashtra government doing the same beginning at Nagpur; Karnataka government in Hubli and Dharwar etc.

People have their basic right on this natural resource for protection of their lives and livelihood which must not be allowed to be used by corporates for business and profits.

The conference calls upon the working class of the country to rise in defending the people’s right on this vital natural resource water.

Sunday, 09 February 2014 18:11

Resolution on Tasks of CITU among Working Women

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The 14th Conference of CITU, being held on 4-8 April 2013 in Kannur reiterates its commitment to carry forward and strengthen the work among working women that CITU has started nearly 35 years ago.

The conference notes that CITU has made considerable advances in organising working women since 1979 when it organised the first all India convention of working women in Chennai and constituted the All India Coordination Committee of Working Women. The membership of women in CITU which was less than 7% at that time has gone up to 31.96% in 2011. In several states it is more than 50%. Women’s presence in the mobilisation of CITU, in its day to day activities, in the conferences at the state and national level, in the decision making bodies has also increased since then.

While expressing its satisfaction at this progress, this conference also is conscious that many weaknesses that have been repeatedly pointed out by the successive conventions of the All India Coordination Committee of Working Women (CITU) as well as the successive all India conferences of CITU are yet to be overcome.

The general weakness of unions, particularly in industries where both men and women work like plantations, beedi, brick kiln etc, in raising the specific problems of working women like equal wages, maternity benefits and crèches, sexual harassment etc from the union platform and mobilising both men and women on these issues, still continues. In several states, even where women membership is above the national average, resistance to elect women as delegates to conferences and to the decision making bodies continues. This was evident in many of the recently concluded state conferences also.

Our work among working women is not reviewed in the state committees. Proper attention is not paid to identify, train, develop and promote women cadres. No action is taken by the state committees to ensure formation of women’s sub committees in our unions in sectors with considerable women workers and to see that they function effectively. Holding the state conventions and constituting state level coordination committees is observed as a periodic ritual in some states while in some states even this is not done.

This conference reiterates that our work among working women is part of our objective of uniting the entire working class and mobilising it to play its due role in leading the struggle against all exploitation. It firmly believes that overcoming the weaknesses and improving our work among working women will contribute to strengthening the CITU and trade union movement as a whole. The basic weakness lies in the influence of the class divided patriarchal society along with the lack of consciousness on the urgency of organising and activating working women in leading bodies of CITU at all levels. The CITU as a whole has to make conscious and sustained effort to overcome these weaknesses. The convention of All India Coordination Committee of Working Women, which had to be deferred due to unavoidable reasons and will be held shortly, will also discuss these issues in detail and make the necessary recommendations.
This 14th conference of CITU calls upon all the state committees of CITU, its industrial federations and affiliated units to rededicate to the task of strengthening the work among working women by –

 Discussing our work among working women as a specific agenda in the first state committee meeting immediately after this national conference

 Identifying the affiliated unions in sectors with considerable number of women workers and constitute women’s sub committees, make them functional and take up women’s specific issues from the union platform

 Allot a state office bearer of CITU to monitor the effective implementation of the above at all levels of the organisation

 Organise separate trade union classes for working women activists and develop them to take up more responsibilities in CITU and its affiliated unions

 Pay special attention to recruit women full timers

The Conference resolves to convene a national workshop with the participation of the president/ general secretary of all the state committees of CITU, after the national convention of All India Coordination Committee of Working Women to chalk out further concrete measures to strengthen our work among working women.

Sunday, 09 February 2014 18:08

Strengthening Unity and Countrywide Struggles!

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Forward to the 14th Conference of CITU at Kannur

Towards Strengthening Unity and Countrywide Struggles!

CITU is getting ready for its 14th Conference, scheduled to be held in Kannur in Kerala on 4 - 8 April 2013. The 13th conference was held in Chandigarh on 17-21 March 2010.

This three year period was a period of great importance in the 43 years existence of CITU, for the organisation as well as for the working people of the country. This was a period when the working class of India has shown its capacity to unitedly fight on the demands of not only the workers but all the working people in the country. This was a period when the country witnessed an unprecedented unity of all the central trade unions and most of the national federations, which came together to fight on a common ten point charter of demands. In many states several regional and independent trade unions too joined in the campaigns and struggles further widening trade union unity.

For CITU, it was a step towards fulfilling the clarion call given at the time of its foundation Conference in May 1970.

Immediately after its formation, CITU started its efforts to turn its slogan ‘Unity and Struggle’, into a reality. These efforts received the support and solidarity of several organisations and resulted in the formation of various joint platforms including the United Council of Trade Unions (UTUC), the National Campaign Committee (NCC), the Sponsoring Committee of Indian Trade Unions and the National Platform of Mass Organisations. The joint movement was further broadened since 2009 achieving total unity of all the central trade unions and national federations.

Almost all these struggles were on issues concerning various sections of working people – for remunerative prices for the peasants, comprehensive law for the agricultural workers, for ensuring employment and unemployment relief to the youth – these were raised by the historic 19th January 1982 strike, the first of its kind in independent India.

From that country wide strike to the recent 48 hours General strike, the Trade Unions in the country have broken many a barriers and its importance and impact has already been noted by various sections.

As the General Secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) George Mavrikos noted “The successful two day strike has been an important lesson for the international working class and a loud message to the Indian Government”.

It is a fact of the day, that not in many countries we have united actions by the central trade unions affiliated with ITUC, WFTU and those not affiliated with any international organisation. It is also a fact that not many would have even dreamed of a joint platform of all the Central TUs and National Federations in India considering the happenings during the past.

Each and every organisation, now involved in this joint movement has contributed in its own way in making this joint platform and struggles a reality.

For its part, CITU, true to the call from its foundation conference and its class orientation, has made all efforts to discharge its role with the necessary enthusiasm, initiative, commitment and dedication. Every member of CITU can be proud of that role.

Sectoral to National
In fact, the joint activities at various sectoral levels like steel, coal etc and by the CPSTU in the Central PSUs in general, played an important role in unifying the workers. Almost all the major sectors like electricity, transport, banks, insurance, defence production, telecom and government employees, saw united struggles at various levels including country wide sectoral strikes, during the last 30 years.

In the recent period the scheme workers like the anganwadi employees, ASHAs, mid day meal workers and others and the workers in the unorganised sector like beedi etc have also conducted united campaigns and struggles. This period also saw many a united struggles in various states.

These struggles have laid a firm foundation for lower level unity in the joint national struggles.

At the time of the 13th Conference, the present phase of united struggles had begun. The inaugural session of the 13th Conference in Chandigarh, witnessed the reiteration of strengthening united struggles by various central TUs.

Immediately after the Conference, the decision to go for a countrywide strike on a five point charter of demands was taken. The strike on 7th September 2010, incidentally, coincided with the International Day of Action called by WFTU, resulting in strikes and struggles in different parts of the world.

Last 3 years saw two more general strikes – on 28th February 2012 and on 20-21 February 2013. In between, we witnessed the largest mobilisation of workers for a Parliament March on 23rd February 2011 and again another March on 20th December. Large scale demonstrations, dharnas and Jail Bharo were also organised. There were many sectoral strikes also during this period, including few countrywide strike actions.

CITU, carrying forward the decisions of the 13th Conference played an effective role in all these struggles – national, state and at work spot level.

CITU has taken the message of unity and struggle to every nook and corner of the country. The improvement in carrying the message of unity down to grass root level has been noted during the successful 48 hours strike.

Independent movements
CITU unions and federations and also committees at various levels, took up many issues independently and conducted militant strikes and struggles. The struggles for trade union rights especially in MNCs indifferent parts of the country conducted during the last 3 years, are of great importance and notable successes have been attained in this and also on economic demands of those workers. This period also saw democratic rights of the workers and the people in general being trampled by various governments and workers militantly resisting these attacks.

CITU leaders and also workers, both men and women, faced physical attacks from police, goondas, had cases foisted on them and put in jail. There were large scale victimisations in different parts of the country. CITU could fight back effectively in many centres, often with the solidarity and support of fraternal trade unions and mass organisations. Many a local struggles, in organised, unorganised sectors and by the scheme workers were conducted in different states.

The country wide one day strike by construction workers led by CWFI in November 2012 was an important struggle in the unorganised sector. The two days’ mahapadav of the scheme workers organised by CITU, in New Delhi in November 2012, witnessed massive mobilisation, especially of women workers, creating more confidence and fighting spirit not only among the participants but also among the CITU movement as a whole.

International Tasks
It was during this period that CITU got formally affiliated to WFTU and has also taken up certain organisational responsibilities.

CITU’s tradition of upholding the banner of international solidarity is being carried forward, despite many a limitations and difficulties.

Critical period
The period after the last Conference was also politically critical to the working people. Chandigarh Conference was within a year of the 2009 general elections, in which the Left parties faced a set back. In the assembly elections, Left lost both West Bengal and Kerala. We saw a belligerent UPA II going ahead with its neo-liberal agenda and the main opposition party, BJP, generally supporting the Government on these policy matters. Almost all the state governments, though led by different political parties of national and regional status, also followed these disastrous policies.

West Bengal witnessed murderous attacks on the trade unions and on the cadres and leaders of the left and democratic movement. The effect of so called `paribortan’ is new being experienced by everybody with the whole democratic system under attack.

It was in such a critical situation, that the trade unions could successfully build up a united movement, challenging the neo-liberal policies and demanding a change in these policies towards an alternative set of policies. Trade Unions could put the policy issues and also the peoples’ demands on focus.

The unprecedented mobilisation of various sections of people protesting against corruption, attacks on women etc., and demanding justice to various sections are notable developments. Added to these are the impact of the 48 hours general strike, which received massive support of ordinary people in urban and rural centres.

All these are the reflections of the urge among masses for a change. These have to be properly channelised into a mass movement and it is here, the Trade Unions should play a leading role.

All these mobilisations, mass movements and successes attained in various struggles and also the victory of the left front in Tripura, leading to the formation of the seventh LF government form the background of the ensuing 14th Conference.

All these are happening at a time, when the capitalist system is engulfed in an unprecedented crisis. This was noted in the Chandigarh Conference and the crisis has further deepened after that.

The working class, all over the world, in all the continents is on the move, struggling against the denial of even its existing rights and benefits resulting in serious attacks on livelihood of the working people. The increasing disparities all over the world resulted in the now famous slogan `99 percent Vs One percent!’

Despite the severe attacks and serious problems even in day to day functioning of trade unions in many parts of West Bengal, CITU has improved its over all strength after the last Conference. Though there are many a weaknesses still persisting in different areas, CITU is marching ahead.

The Kannur Conference will be discussing all the issues of importance to the working people of the country and also going into various aspects of organisational growth of CITU. This conference will pave the way for further strengthening the united activities and struggles of working class and also other sections of toiling masses!

A.K. Padmanabhan

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