THE fifth state conference of Jammu and Kashmir, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) was held in Srinagar on October 28. The conference deliberated upon various issues and problems confronting working class, with the determination to intensify struggles to fight anti-working class and anti-people policies of the government.
The conference started with flag hoisting ceremony by Mohammad Subhan, senior trade union leader at Abdul Gani Hafiz Hall, SKICC, Srinagar. Condolence resolution was presented by CITU state president Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami in memory of former Cuban president, Fidel Castro, CPI(M) leader Samar Mukherjee, CITU leader Umanath, senior trade union leader Abdul Gani Hafiz, Construction Workers Union leader Ghulam Mohiuddin, senior Kisan leader Ghulam Rasool Sheikh and working class people who were victims of violence across the globe, particularly in Kashmir.
The conference was inaugurated by K Hemalata, national president of CITU. Abdul Gani Bhat, vice president, J&K CITU presented the welcome address. 200 delegates representing different affiliated unions participated in the day-long conference.
Inaugurating the conference, Hemalata said that the continuation of neo-liberal economic policies of the Modi government coupled with demonetisation and implementation of GST have had serious ramifications on the lives and livelihood of the working class people. The onslaught of the BJP-led government on working class has to be fought unitedly and vigorously. She asserted that only the unity of the working class and democratic forces can fight back the repression of the present dispensation. The so-called labour reforms conceived by the present dispensation to allow the corporate houses to expand their business are, in fact, aimed to curtail the genuine activities of the trade unions and, as such, are against the working class movement which need to be fought consistently.
Underlining the necessity for wider unity among the working people for resisting the anti-working class policies of the government, she said that there was no room for any illusion, and only united struggles of the toilers can force the government and employers to concede their genuine demands. The focus of the communal politics in the name of ‘Gau Raksha and Love Jihad’ is aimed to divide people on communal and religious lines. Working class has to be vigilant enough against this mechanisation and greater unity of dalits, OBCs, minorities and working class people together will need to be built to face the challenge firmly. Hemalata called upon the working class people to participate whole-heartedly in the ‘Maha Padav’ programme, a joint call by national trade unions, near parliament from November 9-11, 2017.
Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami in his presidential address said that the social security benefits like pension, provident fund, health insurance etc are hard won rights of the working class secured through decades of struggle. These gains are now being reversed through privatisation of pension funds, provident funds and cuts in subsidies and welfare benefits and such measures being implemented across the world today specifically target the social security benefits in order to pass on the burden to the working people. Stressing for implementation of the basic labour laws in the state, Tarigami demanded amendment in the Minimum Wages Act and fixation of statutory minimum wage of not less than Rs 18,000 per month.
Despair among the young generation entering the employment market is increasing rapidly. The utter collapse of public distribution system, commercialisation of education system has made life miserable for common people. The prices of essential commodities have gone up sky high, hitting hard below the belt, the poorer strata of the society. It is but natural that the discontent among the working class is increasing rapidly. The present situation demands that the working class must champion the vital interests of all the toiling sections of the society, so that it can play a leading role in the struggles to oppose the policies of the government, Tarigami stressed.
While referring to the passing of Jammu and Kashmir Public Property (Prevention of Damage) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, Tarigami said, it will trample the legitimate democratic rights of people, especially working class. Our past experience tells us that such laws have always been misused and administration, including police, always sides with employers during the genuine protests of working class. Labour laws are not implemented and whenever working class protests against the employers, they become victims of police lathis. BJP led government is taking care of policies which only benefit corporate sector.
Sham Prasad Kesar, treasurer, J&K CITU presented the financial statement of the unit. Om Prakash presented the general secretary’s report for discussion. 18 delegates participated in the discussion on general secretary’s report. Later the report was unanimously adopted by the conference
The conference adopted the following resolutions:
Resolution regarding unemployment: Like the other states of the country, unemployment is a major issue in J&K. There are more than six lakh educated unemployed youth in the state and if those who aren’t registered with employment agencies are included, then the number touches ten lakh. Till the unemployment issue isn’t addressed, peace and prosperity will elude the state. Though there is huge scope for hydel power projects, food processing industry, sports equipment industry, leather industry, information technology, pharmaceutical industry, poultry and dairy units in the state, the government has ignored these sectors. The delegates demanded:
i) Revocation of new job policy
ii) Providing more opportunities for commission of more hydel power projects to generate employment
Resolution regarding Trade Union Rights
The resolution urged both central and state governments to accept trade union rights and avoid imposing curbs on trade unions. The state government must engage the labour class in a fruitful dialogue so that their problems are addressed.
It also urged the central and state governments to respect labour law rights and implement these laws in letter and spirit. The delay in registration of workers unions is the biggest hurdle and steps must be taken to make the registration process easier.
Resolution regarding Human Rights
The resolution noted that arrests under black laws, killings, custodial deaths, fake encounters, enforced disappearances, rape and third degree torture used on detainees has alienated the people and there is deep anger and resentment. The resolution demanded that no person should be subjected to violence, oppression and human rights violations. It also urges the government to punish the people involved in killings, custodial deaths, fake encounters, enforced disappearances and rape incidents since 1990.
The other resolutions adopted in the conference include rising inflation, minimum wages, against rising communalism, regularisation of contractual, daily wager, adhoc employees, casual/need based/contingency workers; against disinvestment/privatisation of public sectors undertakings; constitution of board on the pattern of construction workers for handicraft workers/domestic workers. Besides, the conference demanded Class III and Class IV grades for anganwadi workers and helpers respectively, minimum wages of Rs 18,000 to all employees, pension, gratuity and implementation of 45th Indian Labour Conference recommendations. A resolution was also adopted on scheme workers such as ASHA Workers, Mid Day Meal workers in respect of bringing them under social security cover and minimum wages.
On the occasion, state secretariat of J&K CITU comprising of 13 office bearers and working committee comprising of 35 members from different unions were elected with MY Tarigami as state president, Om Prakash as general secretary and Sham Prasad Kesar as treasurer.
The conference concluded with thunderous and revolutionary slogans which reflected the enthusiasm and determination of the delegates to carry forward the message of unity.