15th Tamil Nadu State Conference of CITU
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THE 15th Tamil Nadu state conference of the CITU was held in the popular tourist town of Kanyakumari between November 4 and 6. More than 700 people attended the conference, which ended with the call to strengthen the fight against the anti-worker policies of the government.
The reception committee organised a martyrs’ torch rally on November 3 evening. It was a commemorative event for 96 comrades of Kanyakumari who have sacrificed their lives for CITU and the red flag. Torches were brought from various places of the district. Notable among those remembered through the torch rally were G S Moni, D Moni, J Hemachandran, P Divakaran, M M Ali and Perumal. The torches were lit by the family members of those comrades and were brought to the venue by leaders of the district. All torches were received by state CITU leaders A Soundararajan, G Sugumaran, MalathiCitibabu, reception committee chairman Selestine and reception committee secretary K Thanga Mohan, former MP A V Bellarmin, S Noor Mohamed, K Kanagaraj, R Singaravelu, V Kumar, K Thiruchelvan, K Arumuganainar, Gopi Kumar and many others.
On the sidelines of this event, the reception committee organised various competitions for students. The winners were given prizes by Rohini, a popular film personality and vice president of the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association. At the end of the event, BalaPrajapathiAdigal, a well-known reformist, addressed the people and called for maintaining unity and protecting cultural differences.
On November 4, the inaugural session started at the auditorium named after K Vaithiyanathan, a veteran CITU leader in Tamil Nadu. The entrance was named after MythilySivaraman, the first convenor of the Working Women Coordination Committee. The Nagar was named after S Pancharatnam, one of the founders of employees’ union for electricity. A silk flag weaved by comrades of the weavers’ union affiliated with the CITU was brought from Kanchipuram where the 14th conference was held. The jatha was presided over by E Muthukumar and handed over to M Chandran, a veteran of state transport employees union. Jathas carrying torches in the name of founder-leaders covered almost all districts of the state. These jathas campaigned about the conference, the sacrifices made by these leaders and the need of the hour to fight the policies adopted by bourgeoisie governments. After the torches were handed over to senior leaders, the red flag was hoisted by veteran CITU leader T K Rangarajan. The inaugural session of the conference was presided by state president A Soundararajan. The conference was inaugurated by CITU vice president, A K Padmanabhan. Leaders of LPF, INTUC, HMS, AICCTU and UTUC greeted the conference.
On 4th noon, the delegate session started with a condolence resolution, and it was proposed by V Kumar. K Hemalata formally inaugurated the delegate session. She spoke about how wealth accumulated at the hands of a few during the Covid lockdown period. Also, many countries are witnessing elections -- the right-wing forces have been defeated and the pro-left have been elected. In this great victory, particularly in Latin America, workers' role was very important. She appreciated the workers of Yamaha for their recent strike and victory in Tamil Nadu.
The report prepared by the state committee was placed at the conference for discussion by G Sugumaran, general secretary of Tamil Nadu CITU, on 4th evening. The report consisted of various experiences of CITU in Tamil Nadu, consolidation and expansion of the organization and the tasks ahead. Regarding the work experience, the report reflected immense struggles of CITU all over Tamil Nadu, especially the experience in MNCs. The 14th state conference was held in Kanchipuram in 2019, when the district had only 52 unions at MNC. It increased to 73 in 2022 because of various struggles and strikes against the attacks of the management on union office-bearers. Yamaha India company is an example. In 2018 there was a strike for 55 days against the dismissal of two office-bearers. Finally, it was settled by reinstatement. But in 2022 again a strike took place for 10 days against the repression of the CITU by the management with the support of its union. At last, an advice was given by the labour department to conduct an election to select the majority union on or before January 2023. Here workers strike was organised for salary as well as for rights and dignity.
One more example is Foxconn. Spontaneously. more than 5,000 workers of Foxconn sat on the Chennai-Bengaluru highway, 98 per cent of them young women. They were demanding good food, permission to stay where they want, wage increase. The struggle went on for about 14 hours. In support of them CITU organised protests in several places. The secretaries of CITU from Kanchipuram and Chengalpet were involved in resolving the issues. When everything had been accepted by the ministers, collector and officials of the labour department, CITU leaders E Muthukumar, Bagath Singh Das and 11 others were arrested. A month-long lockdown of Foxconn had taken place then because of the spontaneous strike and protest. Recently ILO conducted a study on this unrest. In Chengalpet district many disputes and agitations were undertaken by CITU, especially in Euro Life, Global Pharma, PSL, over non-payment of wages and other issues. After a long struggle under the guidance of CITU, workers got remedy.
The struggle at Hudson company in Dharmapuri district is another example. More than one year, the strike is going on. The active members have been transferred from the Dharmapuri unit to other states and the office-bearers were dismissed. The CITU organised various forms of protests and provided financial assistance to the workers involved in the strike. Likewise, the experience in MM Forging at Sivaganga district is an important one. Immediately after the formation of the union, the office-bearers and activists were dismissed and transferred. A month-long protest paved the way for remedy and reinstatement.
With regard to membership, the report said the existing inconsistency should be overcome by way of forming units for unorganised workers at their locality. The scope for expanding the organisation must be realised. In this period of three years many new unions under CITU at state level have been registered, particularly women data entry operators and Ola, Uber, Zomato and Swiggy workers.
The report has analysed the functioning of industry-wise federations in the state. It discussed the coordination committees in various industries. It pointed out the need for more coordination in taking up issues and conducting struggles. More specifically the report has dealt with the working women coordination committee. According to available data, 1, 73,599 members are women in the unions affiliated with CITU. The report also emphasised on mobilising migrant labourers. Tamil Nadu witnessed the sufferings of migrant workers on a large scale at the time of Covid lockdown. The experiences of extending assistance to migrant workers for the survival and to reach their native were also pointed out.
The report has self-critically analysed that the number of unorganised workers registration at the labour board is high, but the number of members who belong to CITU is only 3,24,434. Hence the delegates of different unions are motivated to go beyond the strength CITU has. As well as, the number of workers engaged in the organised sector is also very huge; But the membership of CITU is only 2,12,043. The delegates also extended their concern on expansion and consolidation of the workers belongs to CITU. Total number of participants in the discussion was 96, among them 14 were women delegates. Many suggestions were placed out to mobilise women workers from various fields.
NEW LEADERSHIP AND OPEN RALLY
A 41-member state secretariat and a 100-member state committee were elected at the conference. A Soundararajan, G Sukumaran and MalathiCitibabu were elected as president, general secretary and treasurer of the state unit respectively. Forty-eight resolutions were proposed and adopted at the conference. CITU general secretary, Tapan Sen delivered the valedictory address. He asked the delegates to prioritise reaching the unreached sections. The current political situation and the challenges can be met only through organised struggles, he said. History has shown the way to defeat communal elements which disturb the unity of the working class, he pointed out.
On November 6 evening, there was a huge rally of workers from various unions of CITU Tamil Nadu in Nagercoil city. Braving heavy rain, a large number of people attended the rally. The conference concluded with a call for a padayatra to save the rights of workers and against the policies of the government at the end of April 2023.
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