October 17, 2021

TN: State Level Conference against Privatisation and NMP

M Nagarajan

TRADE unions in the state conducted a special state conference against privatisation of public sector units. 

The initiative for the meeting was taken by the CITU along with BEFI, AIIEA, BSNLEU, Port & Dock Employees Union, Transport Union, Electricity Board Union and Dakshin Railway Employees Union.

Vijayan of the electricity union welcomed the gathering.

The meeting was presided by Sugumaran, general secretary CITU, Tamil Nadu and T K Rangarajan, Central Committee member of the Party and ex-MP inaugurated the conference. In his initial address, Rangarajan said “All the economic reforms initiated in India since Indian independence underlines the significance of the political-economic thought of the State at that particular point of time. After 1952, the implementation of the 12 Five Year Plans under the successive Congress regimes have paved the way for the nationalisation of the strategic sector, development of science and technology etc.”

Rangarajan pointed out that the concept of five-year plans was initiated at the behest of the Indian capitalists at the time of the independence. The demand for five-year plans emerged from the reality of the low level of the productive capacity of private capitalists at that time. Public sector industries were created to spur massive industrial growth. This is a result of the political-economic thought during the Nehruvian era. Railways, banks, insurance were nationalised and lakhs of public institutions were created in education, health, rural welfare, co-operatives across the nation. 

While speaking about the period since 2014, T R Rangarajan said: “When the Narendra Modi led NDA government took over, the concept of minimum government gained traction. BJP government insisted that it is not the business of the government to be in business and trade, commerce, industry, education, health etc., the private sector should play a major role in them. Consequently, reforms were initiated in the labour sector, diluting the labour laws enacted by the previous regime. Reforms in agriculture were initiated by enacting new laws in agriculture empowering the corporate sector and a much lesser role for government in MSP, procurement etc.” 

He further said that the role of opposition-led state governments in opposing the neo-liberal economic policies of this central government is restricted and their resistance to the centre’s policies is constrained to a much lesser sphere. 

Rangarajan stressed that the trade unions and workers can fill this vacuum and effectively put up a valiant fight against these neo-liberal policies. Trade unions in Tamil Nadu must go to the nook and corner of the state and mobilise people. The union government’s disastrous economic policies have resulted in lakhs of industries in the MSME sector perish. 

A book titled “National Monetisation Pipeline” compiled by R Elangovan of DREU and K Swamination of AIIEA was released at the convention.

Retired judge of Madras High Court, Hari Paranthaman spoke in length regarding the history of the trade union movement, the character of courts and how the working class should align with peasant movements to counter the current authoritarian regime. 

The conference was greeted by T M Moorthy, general secretary, AITUC who explained the bonhomie of the cadres in AITUC and CITU and emphasised the need to merge the organisations to fight against the retrograde policies. 

The convention was also greeted by leaders of various fraternal organisations – Narendra Rao of Port and Dock Workers Union, Raja Sridhar of HMS, Xavier of INTUC, M Girija of AIIEA, S Chellappa of BSNLEU, G Anand AIIEA, Chandran of CITU, Murali Soundararajan of AIBOC, C P Krishnan of BEFI-TN and Jaishankar. Nearly 500 employees of various organisations from all over the state participated in the seminar. 

Thomas Franco of ‘People First’ coordinated the entire seminar.