THE 15th conference of CITU started with great enthusiasm at Comrade Samar Mukherjee Nagar in Puri at 10.00 am on November 26, 2016. AK Padmanabhan, CITU president hoisted the red flag of CITU to mark the commencement of the conference. The inaugural session began after all the delegates led by the president, general secretary and other office bearers of CITU, paid floral tributes at the martyr’s column.
Jagannath Patnaik, chairman, reception committee welcomed the delegates.
AK Padmanabhan delivered the presidential address. Observing that today, when the workers all over the world were celebrating the centenary of the Great October Revolution, the working people and the trade union movement as a whole face serious challenges. The unrelenting capitalist crisis engulfing the whole world is heaping miseries on the workers. Capitalist class is trying to transfer the impact of the crisis on to the shoulders of the workers in order to safeguard and maximise their profits. The fundamental rights of the workers and their unions are under serious attack. Reactionary political parties and forces are being utilised to divide the people.
As a response to such attacks by the corporates and the governments protecting corporate and big business interests, workers all over the world are coming out in massive struggles facing severe and brutal attacks. Huge demonstrations and strikes are taking place in various parts of the world including in the developed countries of Europe and America. The anger and outbursts of the working people against neoliberal attacks on their livelihood are impacting the political horizon in various ways. The election of Donald Trump in the presidential election in the USA, Brexit, the mandate to exit European Union in the referendum conducted in the UK reflect the increasing discontent of people against the impact of the neoliberal policies, which is being utilised by the right wing forces. The imperialist forces led by the USA are utilising the local reactionary forces to defeat and undermine the progressive governments in Latin America. Repression and terror are unleashed against the trade unions and social activists.
The need of the hour is to develop an effective global working class movement capable of pushing back these anti-people anti-labour neoliberal policies. The weakness due to the long lasting influence of reformism in the international trade union movement and the ideological deviations and organisational failures which have engulfed the class oriented movement need to be overcome with due urgency. Padmanabhan expressed hope that the emphasis of the 17th Congress of World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) held recently, to enhance the ideological and political consciousness of the workers and to work – ‘for the attainment of the contemporary needs of the working class against poverty and wars generated by capitalist barbarism’ will help in overcoming this weakness. Only class struggles can bring popular masses into trade unions. Padmanabhan called upon all the delegates to utilise the centenary of the Great October Revolution to take its message to the widest possible sections of workers all over the country and organise a strong militant organisation all over the country.
The presidential address was interrupted to pay respectful homage to Fidel Castro, the legendary leader of Cuban revolution and former president of Cuba, when the news of his demise was known.
Ramendra Kumar Singh, president of AITUC, RC Kuntia, vice president of INTUC, Rajeev Dimri, general secretary of AICCTU, Shankar Saha, general secretary of AIUTUC, Ashok Ghosh, secretary of UTUC and AK Panigrahi from LPF greeted the conference in the inaugural session.
Two important resolutions were unanimously adopted in the inaugural session of the conference.
The first resolution, placed in the conference by JS Majumdar, national secretary of CITU was on year long observance of the Centenary of the Great October Revolution. The resolution reiterated CITU’s commitment to the scientific ideology of the Great October Revolution and its efforts to prepare the working class to play its due role in ending all exploitation in society. Deepak Dasgupta, national secretary of CITU seconded the resolution. The conference decided to organise seminars, popular lectures, ideological education of CITU cadres and activists throughout the year as part of the year long observance. From May 1-30, all units of CITU, up to the lowest level will organise popular lectures on the journey of the working class from the May Day struggle demanding eight hours work and social justice to the establishment of Working Class State through the Great October Revolution. Workshops and general body meetings will be held to explain the tasks of the 15th conference to achieve such exploitation free society, in the contemporary world.
The second resolution on demonetisation by the BJP led Modi government was placed by Tapan Sen, general secretary of CITU and seconded by Katakampalli Surendran, minister for cooperatives in the LDF government in Kerala. The resolution, which was unanimously adopted, strongly condemned the government move to suddenly withdraw around 86 percent of the currency causing great hardships to the common working people, particularly in the unorganised sector. It pointed out that while the common people, who saved their hard earned money were facing difficulties in using it for their day to day necessities, those who are actually involved in corruption and stashing black money abroad are left scot free. It demanded that the people should be allowed to use the old currency till the new currency notes are made available in adequate numbers. The resolution supported the call of the Left parties to observe protests all over the country on November 28.
A massive procession and public meeting were organised in the afternoon of November 26 in which workers from different districts of Odisha participated. Thousands of mines workers, construction workers, mid-day meal workers, ASHAs, anganwadi employees etc reached Puri two days earlier to participate in the procession. The public meeting which was presided by Lambodar Nayak, president of Odisha state committee of CITU, was addressed by AK Padmanabhan, Tapan Sen, Hemalata, secretary of CITU, Bishnu Mohanty, state general secretary and Janardan Pati, state vice president of Odisha state committee of CITU.
The general secretary’s report was presented in two parts. The first part dealing with the economic, political and social conditions at the international and national level was placed by Tapan Sen in the delegates’ session that started in the evening of November 26.
The general secretary’s report noted that despite all the talk of ‘green shoots here and there’ the world economy did not show any sign of recovery from the capitalist crisis which has set in since more than eight years back. The big financial institutions and corporates which were the cause of the crisis are seeking to pass the burdens on to the workers. Though the workers all over the world are resisting the attacks on their livelihoods, these struggles have not yet attained the strength and character necessary to bring about a change in the correlation of forces to challenge the policy regime and the system itself, to facilitate its reversal. In the absence of a clear direction on economic and political fronts, right wing forces were gaining strength and this has further aggravated the onslaughts on the people.
In our country, this trend gained further strength with the BJP led Narendra Modi government, which came to power in 2014, increasingly joining hands with the USA as its junior partner. The government that seeks to evoke sentiments of ‘nationalism’ is acting in the interests of US imperialism and international finance capital against the interests of our own people. The rightward shift in the economic front that started under the regime of the Congress led UPA II, is taken to further heights by the BJP led Modi government. None of the non Left parties including the regional parties have been consistent in their opposition to these policies. Most of them opportunistically utilise the discontent against the neoliberal policies for their political gains.
The general secretary’s report strongly laid bare the pro-rich and pro-corporate bias of the Modi led BJP government which has made drastic cuts in the expenditure for welfare schemes, in the subsidies on fertilisers and petroleum products, on health and education, at the same time providing huge concessions to the big corporate and business classes, both domestic and foreign. Simultaneously the government was trying to delude the people into believing that it was ‘pro-poor’ by announcing various schemes and programmes.
The RSS, the guiding light of the BJP, has gained influence under the Modi regime. RSS and the members of its parivar are spewing communal venom in the name of so-called ‘Hindutva’ to divide the people on religious lines on the one hand and to divert their attention from the basic issues of their lives and livelihood to non issues. Sensing the growing discontent and disillusionment among the people because of the government’s policies, the right wing BJP and its fraternal organisations in the RSS are resorting to all manoeuvres to divide society. The report asserted that use of communal and divisive issues is integral to the ideology and operational methods of BJP. The record of BJP and its mentor RSS establish that they do not hesitate to resort to authoritarian and fascistic measures to tackle dissent and democratic expression of discontent. Attacks on dalits, minorities and women have increased. Tribals are being dislocated from their source of livelihood. Any protest on their part to assert their rights is being combated with physical attacks. In most of the cases and particularly in the BJP ruled states, the administration remains a silent onlooker. The BJP led government and the communal forces are stooping to such a low level of promoting jingoism using the recent terrorist attacks in Uri. They seek to take political advantage of the brave martyrdom of our jawans there and our army’s response in defending the country’s border.
This situation calls upon the working class movement to take its struggles to newer heights and channelise the anger of the toiling people into struggles against policies and politics of neoliberalism projecting a clear alternative. The two highly successful countrywide general strikes in 2015 and 2016 witnessed the largest ever participation by the workers all over the country, despite the betrayal by the BMS. The participation of large number of non unionised workers in these strikes and the wide support from other sections of toiling people, point to the big possibility of expanding the struggles. The report asserted that widening and deepening of unity of all sections of toiling people and taking the struggle to further heights was the only way to change the correlation of class forces in favour of the working class.
The second part of the general secretary’s report, placed in the morning session on November 28, analysed the present state of CITU’s organisation at all levels, pointed out the shortcomings and weaknesses and proposed several measures to overcome these and develop CITU as a strong militant all India force at the earliest.
Based on its analysis, the 15th conference of CITU concluded that the present situation, while presenting serious challenges, also ‘create new opportunity to combat, put a decisive break and change the entire trajectory’. It called upon all CITU committees, cadres, activists and members to concentrate all their efforts to utilise this developing opportunity. CITU, at the national as well as state level has to take active initiative to ensure that the working class movement is steered in that direction. The concrete proposals made in the general secretary’s report were unanimously adopted by the conference. The conference decided to call upon all its committees and cadres to take conscious class initiatives to reach its message of confidence, unity and struggle to all sections of toiling people.
49 delegates participated in the discussion on part I of the general secretary’s report and 46 in the discussion on part II. All the speakers endorsed the formulations in the reports and made some suggestions to strengthen them. The reports were unanimously adopted by the conference.
In support of the Left parties’ call to observe November 28 as all India Protest Day against the BJP government’s demonetisation decision, all the delegates stood in a human chain on the beach road in front of the conference venue on the morning, before the starting of the session. The long human chain holding placards and CITU flags and shouting slogans was appreciated by the people of the town.
Avoy Mukherjee, general secretary of DYFI, Hannan Mollah, general secretary of AIKS, Malini Bhattacharya, president of AIDWA, Vikram Singh, general secretary of SFI and A Vijaya Raghavan, general secretary of AIAWU greeted the conference on behalf of their respective organisations.
The conference discussed three important topics – ‘Globalisation, Employment Relations and Labour Law Reforms’, ‘Communalism and the Role of the Working Class’ and ‘Worker Peasant Alliance’ in three commissions on November 29. The recommendations of the commissions were placed in the conference on November 30 on the next day.
2033 delegates from 24 states, fraternal trade union organisations, including 447 women participated in the conference. For the first time, women’s participation was nearly 22 percent. The conference concluded on November 30, 2016.
Newly Elected Leadership
THE 15th conference of CITU elected a general council comprising 425
members and a working committee comprising 125 members with Hemalata as president, Tapan Sen as general secretary and M L Malkotia as treasurer. The other office bearers are as follows.
Vice presidents: A K Padmanabhan, Shyamal Chakraborty, Basudev Acharia, J S Majumder, A S Soundararajan, K O Habeeb, Anathalavattom Anandan, Mercykutty Amma (W), Makik Dey, Malathi Chittibabu (W), Sudha Bhaskar, Raghunath Singh, Bishnu Mahanty, S Varalaxmi (W), D L Karad, Baby Rani (W).
Secretaries: S Devroye, Dipak Dasgupta, Elamaram Karim, Kashmir Singh Thakur, Prasanta Nandi Chowdhury, G Sukumaran, M Saibabu, K K Divakaran, P Nandakumar, Ratna Dutta (W), M A Gaffoor, D D Ramanandan, A R Sindhu (W), K Chandran Pillai, Meenakshisundaram, Usha Rani (W).
Permanent invitee: Sukomal Sen