THE joint national convention of central trade unions and independent industrial federations held in Talkatora Stadium in the national capital on August 8, chalked out a programme of joint campaign and struggles against the anti-worker and anti-people policies and the growing authoritarian tendencies of the Modi led BJP government at the centre.
The national convention unanimously decided to organsie a massive three days’ ‘padav’ near parliament from November 9-11. It called upon the working class of the country to prepare itself for country wide indefinite general strike in the future. The ‘padav’ will be preceded by extensive joint campaign through state, district, block, industrial centre, factory level joint conventions.
The huge participation of workers from all over the country – from far off Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the south to the strife torn state like Jammu and Kashmir in the north, from all sectors, organised and unorganised, public and private – shows the determination of the working class of the country to fight against the attacks on their livelihoods and working conditions by the BJP led government wedded to the neo-liberal agenda. The Talkatora Stadium was overflowing with workers standing on the floor and standing packed in the passages. Despite this, almost half the workers had to remain outside the hall.
The joint convention was organised by all the central trade unions and almost all the independent national federations of different sections of employees, except the BMS which has opted out of joint struggles since the BJP came to power at the centre. In addition to INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF, the independent national federations and unions of employees in the central government, state government, insurance, banks, defence, railways, BSNL, electricity, coal, steel, energy, petroleum, road transport, air transport, water transport, port and dock, mining, IT, PSUs etc participated in the convention.
The convention strongly condemned the authoritarian measure of the government depriving the INTUC representation in the tripartite and bipartite forums and committees including in the international forums. It denounced the measure as a heinous onslaught on the rights of the entire trade union movement. It declared that the trade union movement in the country will not take it lying down. It pledged to fight it back with all its might.
The declaration placed by G Sanjeeva Reddy, president of INTUC was unanimously adopted by the convention amidst thunderous slogans after representatives of the ten central trade unions spoke in support of it. The speakers included Amarjeet Kaur from AITUC, Harbhajan Singh Sidhu, general secretary of HMS, Tapan Sen, general secretary of CITU, Sankar Saha, general secretary of AIUTUC, Manali Shah from SEWA, Rajiv Dimri, general secretary of AICCTU, Shanmugam, general secretary of LPF and NK Premachandran from UTUC.
Speaking on behalf of CITU, Tapan Sen exposed the myth of government’s claims of providing social security for all through its Code on Social Security. He said that this would in reality snatch away whatever social security benefits that a small section of organised sector workers are getting today. The real intention was to utilise the huge corpus of funds running into lakhs of crores of rupees lying with the existing social security funds like the EPF, ESI, Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess etc and make them available to the share market. The government would not contribute a single paisa towards social security as per this Code.
Tapan Sen also drew the attention of the convention to the rising struggles of the peasants in different parts of the country and emphasised the need to develop joint struggles of workers along with peasants and other toiling masses. He said that a strong movement of workers and peasants will be invincible and will definitely succeed in defeating the anti-people policies of the government. He also urged the working class to be vigilant against the divisive forces and protect and strengthen its unity.
The convention was presided over by a presidium comprising Ashok Singh (INTUC), Ramendra Kumar (AITUC), SN Pathak (HMS), Hemalata (CITU), Satyavan Singh (AIUTUC), Lata (SEWA), Uday Bhat (AICCTU) and Satrujit Singh (UTUC) and V Subbaraman (LPF).
NATIONAL CONVENTION OF WORKERS
August 8, 2017,
THE National Convention of Workers being held today, August 8, 2017, in Talkatora Indoor Stadium, New Delhi jointly called by the ten Central Trade Unions, in association with all independent national federations of workers and employees of both industrial and service sectors, expresses serious concern over the deteriorating situation in the national economy due to the pro-corporate, anti-national and anti-people policies pursued by the Narendra Modi government, grievously impacting the livelihood of the working people across the country.
The Convention notes with utter dismay that the government has been continuing to arrogantly ignore the 12-point Charter of Demands on minimum wage, social security, workers’ status and pay and facilities for the scheme workers, against privatisation and mass scale contractorisation etc, being jointly pursued by the entire trade union movement of the country. Despite numerous nationwide joint strike actions, the most prominent being those of September 2, 2015 and September 2, 2016, participated by crores of workers against the policies of the governments, the ruling regime at the centre has been increasing onslaught on the rights and livelihood of the working people of the country. Both the organised as well as unorganised sectors are victims alike.
The National Convention unanimously condemns in strongest terms the conspiratorial and authoritarian attack of the BJP government to deprive the biggest central trade union in the country, the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) from all representations in the tripartite and bipartite forums and committees including in the international forum. This is nothing but a severe and heinous onslaught on the rights of the entire trade union movement. It will be unitedly fought back and the National Convention pledges for that.
Unemployment situation is getting aggravated with employment generation practically turning negative even in the most labour intensive sectors. The phenomenon of closure and shut-down of industries and the forecast of huge job-loss in the IT sector is adding fuel to the fire. Price-rise of essential commodities including public transport, electricity, medicines etc is mounting pressure on daily life of the people in general, leading to widening as well as deepening impoverishment. Hasty implementation of GST has added fuel to fire. Drastic cut in government expenditure in social sector and various welfare schemes has made the conditions of workers, particularly those in the unorganised sector more precarious.
The anti-labour authoritarian character of the government is all the more evident in their refusal to implement even the consensus recommendations (in which the government was also a party) of the successive Indian Labour Conferences in respect of equal pay and benefits for equal work for the contract workers, formulation of minimum wage on the norms agreed by the 15th ILC/Supreme Court Judgment and workers status for the scheme workers viz, anganwadi, mid-day-meal and ASHA etc. Shockingly Modi government is even refusing to implement the recent judgments of the Supreme Court of the country on the most genuine issue of “equal wage and benefits for same work” and on EPS, 1995 on contribution and calculation of pension on actual pay and dearness allowance.
Despite opposition of all the trade unions in the country irrespective of affiliations, the government has been aggressively pushing through its programme of pro-employer and utterly anti-worker labour law reforms which is aimed at imposing conditions of slavery on the working people. The latest onslaught is the move to evolve a ’Social Security Code’ by dismantling and demolishing the existing statutory Social Security infrastructure under Employees Provident Fund Organisation, Coal Mines Provident Fund and Employees State Insurance Corporation and many others welfare statutes, abolition of welfare related cess, and usurp the huge social security fund subscribed by the workers amounting to more than Rs 20 lakh crore and make them available for the speculation in share market under the most deceptive and fraudulent camouflage of ‘universalisation of social security’.
Privatisation of all strategic PSUs, including defence production, public sector banks and insurance and also railways, public road transport, oil, power etc through disinvestment, strategic sale, outsourcing in favour of private sector, promoting 100 per cent FDI in many vital and strategic sectors are increasing day by day. Moreover stripping all the cash rich PSUs from the investible cash reserves are added assaults. In fact defence sector privatisation move is actually designed to destroy manufacturing capability and research initiatives developed by the country over the last six and half decades. The worst and most dubious is the game plan to outsource more than 50 per cent products including weapons and critical equipments, so long being produced by the Ordinance establishments. Complete privatisation of the railways, step by step, is going on. Operating private trains in the existing tracks built by railways is being permitted. Moreover, free access to railway yards, sheds and workshops for maintenance of private coaches, wagons and engines etc are being offered to private operators. Already 23 railway stations in all metro cities have been shortlisted for privatisation. Railway employees shall be worst victims of privatisation in terms of job security, democratic trade union rights and protection of achievements in the areas of pay, perks, social security etc. Like Central Electricity Regulatory Authority (CERC), a Railway Development Authority (RDA) has been created. Given the sky-rocketing increase in electricity tariff by CERC under the RDA, railway fare and goods freight is poised to be hiked hurting the common people and benefiting the private profiteers.
Public sector banks are under attack through various legislative and executive measures. The ultimate target of the government is privatisation and to extend undue favour to the same private corporate crooks, whose default of paying back the loan has put the banking sector in severe difficulties. The retrenchment of contractual employees has been resorted to already in some banks. Insurance sector is also under such attack. Legislative measures to pave way for privatisation of our major ports are also in the advanced stage. CPUs even including the core and strategic sectors like energy, petroleum, telecom, metal, mining, machine building, road, air and water transport, port & dock and more are under the privatisation onslaught of the government. The Convention notes that workers of these industries are fighting sectoral battles unitedly. United struggles have been launched by the workers and employees of government services sector including the scheme workers as a whole. The Convention extends full support to these struggles.
Attempts are being made by the state governments to dismantle public sector road transport by issuing route-permits to private parties. The central government intends to get the new Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2017 hastily passed in the current session of parliament which will allow wholesale privatisation of road transport. The Convention while taking note of the protest action by transport workers, condemns the state governments and central government’s anti-people and anti-worker moves in the transport sector.
The National Convention of Workers extends full solidarity to the fighting farmers in various states as well as under the joint national forums of peasants’ organisations. It is the same set of pro-corporate, pro-landlord policies which have created a severe crisis in agriculture which is the biggest livelihood provider in the economy, leading to continuing increase of suicides.
This National Convention of Workers records its strong denunciation against the communal and divisive machinations on the society being carried on with the active patronage of the government machinery under the present polity. The peace loving secular people in the country are facing a stark situation of terror and insecurity all around. Communal forces are cultivating an atmosphere of conflicts within the society on non-issues. It is disrupting the unity of the workers and the toiling people in general, so vital to carry forward the ongoing struggles based on our 12-point charter of demands as detailed above. Working class must raise their strong voice of protest.
The situation before the nation is the deepening all round attack on the rights and livelihood of the working class and the toiling people in general by the private corporate friendly government of the day. On the other hand the working class has achieved solid unity of the trade union movement and also achieved unprecedented response in the ongoing struggles including the strike actions opposing such suicidal anti-people policies.
The task before the Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and independent national federations is to further intensify the surging struggles in various sectors through a concerted united agitation and mobilisation at national level to be followed by countrywide general strike action as a culmination and consolidation of all sectoral struggles. The National Convention of Workers therefore adopts the following programmes:
1. To work for achieving and accelerating united struggles in all the sectors of the economy on respective demands, which has already begun
2. To organise block/district/industrial centres/state level massive campaign, mobilisation and conventions in preparation for the central mobilisation to be followed
3. Massive three days dharna at the national capital from November 9-11 to be attended by lakhs of workers from all over the country.
4. The National Convention calls upon the working people to prepare for indefinite countrywide strike action against the anti-people, anti-national activities of the government.
The National Convention calls upon the working people across the sectors and throughout the country irrespective of affiliations, to make the above programmes a total success.
12 POINT CHARTER OF DEMANDS
1. Urgent measures for containing price-rise through universalisation of public distribution system and banning speculative trade in commodity market
2. Containing unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation
3. Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measures for violation of labour laws.
4. Universal social security cover for all workers
5. Minimum wages of not less than Rs 18,000/- per month with provisions of indexation
6. Assured enhanced pension not less than Rs.3,000/- p.m. for the entire working population
7. Stoppage of disinvestment in Central/State PSUs and strategic sale
8. Stoppage of contractorisation in permanent perennial work and payment of same wage and benefits for contract workers as regular workers for same and similar work
9. Removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus, provident fund; increase the quantum of gratuity.
10. Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of submitting application; and immediate ratification of ILO Conventions C 87 and C 98
11. Against Labour Law Amendments
12. Against FDI in Railways, Insurance and Defence