G Mamatha from Bengaluru
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THE 17th All India Conference of CITU began with a rousing reception to the working class and their representatives who had come from all corners of the country to Bengaluru to take part in the five-day conference from January 18-22, 2023. 1,500 delegates representing around 62 lakh members from 25 states and union territories and representatives of fraternal organisations are attending the conference.
The conference began in the morning on January 18th with flag hoisting. CITU all India president, K Hemalata hoisted the flag amidst thunderous slogans against the attacks on working class, against divisive communal politics of the governments and against capitalism. A guard of honour was given to the CITU all India president by the red volunteers of Bengaluru before the hoisting of CITU flag. The ‘KGF Martyrs’ Jyoti’ brought from the martyrs’ land of Kolar Gold mines, was received by the leadership of CITU with revolutionary fervour. Later, delegates and guests paid tributes to the martyrs column.
The venue of the conference, Palace Grounds, is named after former CITU national vice-president Comrade Shyamal Chakraborty and the conference manch is named after former all India treasurer, Comrade Ranjana Nirula and national vice-president of CITU, Comrade Raghunath Singh. The entry gates of the conference hall are named after martyr Comrade Manish Shukla, a cement worker and CITU organiser who was brutally killed by the ruling class goons in Madhya Pradesh.
The inaugural session of the conference was presided over by CITU all India president, K Hemalata. Addressing the conference, she underscored the importance of unifying the working class, intensifying the struggles, defeating neoliberal policies and the communal divisive forces, and the imperialist machinations.
Reception committee president, K Subba Rao, delivering the welcome address appreciated the support extended by all sections of the working class and the people in general for organising this conference.
Tapan Sen, all India general secretary of CITU, invited the guests to the dais. He invited the general secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), Pambis Kyritsis and the leaders of central trade unions who are in the joint platform of trade unions along with CITU, conducting countrywide struggles. Making the introductory remarks, Tapan Sen, spoke about the neoliberal onslaughts on workers and the communal threats faced by the country. He explained the need to heighten the level of struggles to protect the workers’ interests and to save the country.
Addressing the conference, WFTU general secretary Pambis Kyritsis said, “The world is going through a phase of extreme intensification of political, economic and military onslaught aiming at controlling and exploiting the economic resources of our planet. And as it happens, the people pay the price of the imperialist wars and attacks.”
He underlined that the crisis of capitalism is deepening and resulting in open violation of democratic and trade union rights and the drastic widening of social inequalities, poverty and exploitation. He pointed out that the sharp and uncontrollable increase in prices of all basic necessities downgrades the living standard of the working people and at the same time the multinationals and monopolies are reaching new records of profits.
Kyritsis said, “The weapon of the working class is solidarity and internationalism. For the workers who resist, who do not compromise with oppression, discrimination and exploitation, there is only one path of dignity – the path of the struggles.” He urged the delegates to keep going and fight for the emancipation of the entire people.
The conference was greeted by the representatives of central trade unions - INTUC vice president, R Chandrashekharan; AITUC general secretary, Amarjeet Kaur; HMS Karnataka state general secretary, Naganath; AIUTUC president, K Soma Shekhar; TUCC national secretary, B Rajendran Nair; UTUC general secretary, Ashok Ghosh; Sonia George from SEWA, AICCTU national secretary, Clifton and LPF national secretary, V Veluswami.
Fraternal delegates – Janardhan Majumdar from the Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers; Sreekumar from the All India State Government Employees Federation; Srikant Mishra from the All India Insurance Employees Association; P Abhimanyu from the BSNL Employees Union; Bijan Guha Thakurta from the All India Defence Employees Federation and Debashis Basu Choudhury from the Bank Employees Federation of India greeted the conference extending solidarity.
The delegate session began in the afternoon with the election of various committees to conduct the conference. The presidium comprised the president and all the vice presidents of CITU. The credential committee comprises Amitava Guha (CITU centre) as convenor; Prasant Nandi Chaudhary (West Bengal); KR Raghu (Maharashtra); AV Nageswar Rao (Andhra Pradesh); Nanda Kumar (Kerala); V Kumar (Tamil Nadu) and BS Rawat (CITU centre) as members. The minutes committee comprises M Saibabu (CITU centre) as convenor; Dr PG Dilip (Kerala); Jiban Saha (West Bengal); A Nageswar Rao (Telangana); G Nagarajan (Tamil Nadu) Saurabh Mishra (Madhya Pradesh); Anupam Kumar (Bihar) and Pem Gautam (Himachal Pradesh) as members. The resolutions committee comprises R Karumalayan (CITU centre) as convenor; KK Divakaran (Kerala); Somnath Bhattacharya (West Bengal); S Kannan (Tamil Nadu); Jai Bhagwan (Haryana) and Balaji (Karnataka) as members.
The condolence resolution was placed by Amitava Guha.
The presidential address was delivered by K Hemalata. She explained the present context and the challenges faced by the working class – how the world is still grappling with the pandemic and the effects of the pandemic-induced reckless lockdowns; how we are facing a looming recession; how we are unequally suffering the effects of climate change etc. She noted that the neoliberal policies and the communal-divisive policies of the ruling RSS-led BJP government are crushing the lives of the workers. This is the reality, but the point however is to change it, she emphasized. Expose the policies, raise consciousness and build united movements to change the situation, she said. Rallying against complacency in the current moment of crisis, is the need of the hour, she mentioned.
Tapan Sen, placed the part one of the general secretary’s report. Part two of the report is on organisation. He explained the pioneering role played by the CITU in stepping out, speaking up and stepping up the struggles even during the pandemic induced lockdowns. The General Strike of the working class on November 26, 2022 and its resounding success is a pointer to the efforts made by the CITU in uniting and fighting to safeguard the workers’ interests. Stressing on the fact that difficulties do not mean that the task is impossible, Tapan Sen called on the delegates to spark courage and resilience among the grassroots organisers of the unions to change the system.
The treasurer’s report and the statement of accounts was placed by Tapan Sen, as CITU treasurer, M L Malkotia could not attend the conference due to ill health.
As the first day of the conference came to an end, the urge among the comrades, as beautifully stated by Langston Hughes, could be felt:
“And I see that my own hands can make
The world that’s in my mind
Then let us hurry comrades,
The road to build”
The day came to an end with all the delegates earnestly discussing the reports, reviewing their work and planning to build the roads to the future.
(Further reports of the conference will be published in detail in the next issue)
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