August 27, 2023
Joint Convention of SKM-CTUs Calls for Decisive Protests

Arka Rajpandit

THOUSANDS of workers, peasants and agricultural workers participated in the first ever historic joint national convention held at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on August 24. The convention was called by Central Trade Unions (CTUs) and Samyukta Kishan Morcha (SKM)- the umbrella organisation of hundreds of farmers organisations. The joint convention unanimously decided to heighten the militancy of the joint movement and called for determined and decisive protest actions across the country.

The historic farmers struggle witnessed massive active support and solidarity actions by the working class movements across the country with CITU in the frontline. All the programmes of sit-in demonstrations, agitations, bandhs spearheaded by SKM, were profoundly supported by the entire working class movement. In this process, on all subsequent occasions, SKM also extended their unfettered support to the struggles and agitations organised by joint platform of trade unions. These struggles and agitations by the two producing classes further consolidated the worker-peasant unity in action against their common enemy – the corporate communal nexus in the government. In this background, a joint meeting of the CTUs and SKM was held on July 13, 2023, in which both the platforms reiterated their resolve to jointly fight against the anti-worker, anti-farmer and anti-people policies of the Modi government and decided to hold this first ever historic joint convention to take on policy assaults of the Modi government.

The convention called for ousting this ruling regime which is harming the Indian economy, making lives of common people miserable with steep price rise of essential commodities, growing job-loss and increased unemployment, expensive education and healthcare, no subsidy on inputs and no MSP for the farmers produce.

The convention called upon crores of workers, farmers, agricultural workers and other working people across the country to move forward and play a historic role in united joint actions. The convention weighed up the alarming situation before the workers, farmers and all sections of common people of the country generated by the destructive and disastrous pro-corporate policies being aggressively pursued by the government at the centre since 2014 that are inimical to the democratic, secular, harmonious living of our people. The convention also decided to heighten their combat against the destructive policies of this government, both at the sectoral and national levels. The convention asserted that the entire year of 2023 has to be a year of campaigns and combative agitations leading to higher forms of struggle at all levels.

The convention noted in its declaration that the glorious struggle of Samyukt Kisan Morcha has no parallel in the world. The government had to repudiate their farm laws. Through workers united struggles, the privatisation process in several PSUs like BPCL, CEL, some steel plants etc could be stalled, though only for the time being. Saving Vizag Steel Plant from privatisation has become people’s struggle. The united struggle of the electricity employees in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Pondicherry, Jammu & Kashmir, Chandigarh and Haryana forced the governments to retreat. Through their militant united struggles, the scheme workers in various states achieved many of their demands including increase in their remuneration.  Assessing the experiences of farmers and workers resistance movements, the convention asserted that only a united joint resistance action engaging crores of working people could bend the ruling dispensation and could halt the policy onslaughts.

The presidium for the joint convention comprised CITU president, K Hemalata, Sanjay Singh(INTUC), Bant Singh Brar (AITUC), Mukesh Galak (HMS), Harish Tyagi (AIUTUC), G R Shiv Shankar (TUCC), Sucheta De (AICCTU), Farida Jalis (SEWA),                                  K Natarajan (LPF), RS Dagar (UTUC) Satnam Singh, Buta Singh Brujgill, Satnam Singh Bheru, Purushotam Singh Gill, Harnek Singh Mehma (Punjab),                                   R Chandrasekhar (Telangana), Kiran Vissa (AP), Suresh Kauth (Haryana), Ranjit Raju           (Rajasthan), Jagtar Singh Bajwa (Uttarakhand). CITU general secretary, Tapan Sen, AIKS president Ashok Dhawale addressed the convention supporting the joint declaration of these organisations.  Darshan Pal (SKM), Ashok Singh (INTUC), Amarjeet Kaur (AITUC), Harbhajan Singh Sidhu (HMS), Ramesh Parashar (AIUTUC),              G Devarajan (TUCC), Manali Shah(SEWA), Santosh Ray (AICCTU), M Shanmugan (LPF), Shatrujeet Singh(UTUC), Joginder Pal Singhu Ugraha( Punjab), Sunilam (MP), Atul Kumar Singh Anjan, Medha Patekar (Maharashtra), Avik Saha (WB), Tajinder Singh Virk (Uttarakhand), VS Rao (AP) and other leaders addressed the joint convention.

The joint convention noted that what is required is to make workers, farmers and the people aware that their real enemy, the cause for their miseries and the miseries of the nation, is the anti-national destructive policy regime being operated by the corporate-communal nexus in the governance at the centre.  This government and other state governments led by this party ruling in the centre, in order to sustain their regime of loot and plunder, have been actively cultivating poisonous communal-divisive polarisation in the society and divide workers, farmers and the people in general to divert their attention from their burning issues and weaken united struggles to benefit the corporates. This is being carried out with the active support of the corporate owned mainstream media and social media troll armies. The continuing ethnic clashes in Manipur leading to huge loss of lives and atrocities on women, recent communal clashes in Haryana (Nuh) and similar provocations in other parts of the country as well – are all engineered by the same divisive-polarisation oriented policy regime. The convention emphasized on growing attack on federal structure of the country.

The convention asserted that the national economy should be protected from the malice of the systemic crisis of the neoliberal policies by putting more money in the hands of the common people who create our national wealth and keep the national economy running, by increasing the statutory minimum wages and expanding and universalising social security measures with government funding and other such measures, such as subsidy to farmers including agricultural inputs, the State-owned mandies, appropriate MSP etc are the measures necessary to address the distress among the farming community. This can be done by increasing taxes on corporates, rich and the super rich, restoring wealth tax, and succession tax. Even the Nobel-laureates are advising this.  The convention postulated that it is a stupendous task which will require each and every one of us to work tirelessly to turn our common experience into a message to common masses to turn the tide against those in power who are pushing the nation and its people into unprecedented crises and destruction.

The joint convention unanimously adopted a charter of demands of the working people of the country such as, ensuring minimum wages of Rs 26,000 per month and pension of Rs10,000 to all workers;  legal guarantee to MSP at C2+50 per cent for all farm produce with guaranteed procurement; scrapping the four labour codes and Electricity Amendment Bill 2020, providing 200 workdays at wages of Rs 600 per day under MNREGA with expansion to urban areas and one time loan waiver to poor and middle peasants and agricultural workers.

To take these demands to the workers, peasants, agricultural workers and other toiling sections of working people, the convention called upon all the units and contingents of SKM and CTUs to take up extensive and intensive campaign through distribution of leaflets, posters, wall writing, group meetings, jathas, processions etc on the issues.

The convention gave a call to observe October 3 (Lakhimpur Kheri massacre in 2021) as Black day, demanding dismissal and prosecution of the conspirator, the minister of state for home affairs Ajay Mishra Teni. The convention appealed all the working people of this country to come forward and play an active role in ‘Day and Night Mahapadav Struggle’ in front of the Raj Bhawans in the state capitals of all the states and union territories, from November 26 to 28, 2023. The convention also decided to conduct determined and decisive protest actions in the months of December 2023-January 2024.