November 24, 2012

WEST BENGAL CITU Calls for Vigorous Struggle

HOWRAH, 12th November: THE 10th state conference of CITU West Bengal committee has vowed to launch a vigorous struggle to defend the rights of the workers in the state. A programme to mobilise wider sections of workers in defense of the gains that are being attacked now in the state has been formulated from the conference.

The state conference was held at Comrade Jyoti Basu Nagar (Howrah) and Comrade M K Pandhe Manch (Sarat Sadan) during November 8 - 11, 2012.  The conference was  inaugurated by A K Padmanabhan, president of CITU, after hoisting the Red flag and offering floral tributes to the martyrs.

In his inaugural speech, Padmanabhan said the CITU would, jointly with other trade unions, resist the onslaught on the people launched by the UPA-II government in the name of economic reforms. Referring to the severe attacks against the workers in West Bengal in the changed political situation, the CITU leader expressed confidence that the workers of West Bengal will play their historical role in the present situation like in the earlier days.

Padmanabhan said the Indian economic policy regime has undergone a right wing shift since the introduction of neo-liberal economic policies. The union government is acting under the dictates of the Word Bank and the chambers of commerce in order to make the labour laws of the country flexible. He warned that the trade unions would strongly resist such an attempt. Already the multinational companies are not implementing the existing labour laws. They are brazenly restricting the workers from participating in the trade unions. Even the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people are being undermined by the big corporate and MNCs. The union government is a mere spectator to these violations. In such a scenario if the labour laws are further diluted, the workers will be subject to maximum exploitation.

Padmanabhan emphasised the necessity of protection of the trade union rights along with ensuring of the social security, control of price hike and universal public distribution system. He said that CITU has always been in favour of the united workers movement from its class outlook. After travelling a long path, all the central trade unions have called for a 48-hour countrywide general strike on the 20th and 21st February 2013. This has happened for the first time in the history of independent India. The trade unions will launch a vigorous campaign to make the general strike successful and informed that a march to parliament will be held on 20th December to highlight the demands of the working class.

Kali Ghosh, secretary of CITU West Bengal state committee placed the report in the conference. While placing the report he said that the workers movement of the state is facing various attacks during the tenure of the Trinamool Congress government. He said the situation is so bad that the chief minister refused to meet their delegation that sought to submit a memorandum about the growing attacks on trade unions in West Bengal.

Tapan Sen, general secretary of CITU, in his speech exposed the anti-people nature of the neo-liberal policies being implemented by the union government and emphasised the need for a united struggle against these policies.

In the context of growing number of unorganised sector workers and contractual workers, the 10th state conference emphasised on their problems and issues in detail and outlined the path of future programmes. Special discussions were held on these two aspects.
The delegates in the conference discussed the issue of the contractual labour in detail, especially the growing attack on the labour laws of the country in the name of labour market flexibility. How the neo liberal globalisation policies are impacting the working class people of West Bengal was also discussed in particular. The organisation has decided to observe 12th December 2012 as the demand day for the contractual workers. The workers shall unitedly hold their protest in front of the offices of the department of labour in all the districts. The delegates also pointed out the lethargy of the state government in implementing the social security and welfare programmes initiated by the earlier Left Front government. The delegates exchanged their experiences of the struggle against the terror attacks against the trade union movement by the Trinamool backed hooligans. The delegates expressed confidence of taking on this challenge in the wake of the historic success in the state of the 28th February all India general strike called by the central trade unions. The delegates underlined the importance of consolidating various streams of worker movements in order to achieve the political goals.

The 10th state conference elected the new CITU West Bengal state committee. Shaymal Chakraborty has been re-elected as the president and Dipak Dasgupta has been elected as the secretary.

On the concluding day of the conference, on 11th November, the  rally was held at Dumurjala in Howrah. The rally turned out to be a mammoth one. Addressing the rally, former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said a desperate situation is prevailing in the state in which farmers are unable to sell produce and industrialists are shying away from investing in the state. “The government failed to attract a single fresh investment. IT majors Wipro and Infosys, who came here during the Left rule, are now thinking of leaving the state,” said Bhattacharjee.

Slamming the government for taking the state towards an industrial disaster in absence of a clear policy, Bhattacharjee referred to how Singur has now become a desert. “Had the car manufacturing factory come up there, about 5000 to 6000 people would have got jobs. Hooghly’s profile would have been different by now, if our plan to bring industry to Singur was not thwarted. At Haldia, one cargo-handling agency was driven out to give way to a company run by a Trinamool Congress MP. This state is gradually moving towards industrial doomsday.”

Bhattacharjee said that the transport workers and the whole transport sector of the state are in a deplorable condition. Most private transport vehicles are lying idle as the agencies are becoming incapable of managing the cost of the business. Transport workers are not getting salaries, pensions, and are compelled to resort to suicides. This is the crude reality of the state where the salaries of ministers in the TMC-led government had gone up from Rs 7000 during the Left Front rule to Rs 27,000 now. And the government is acting as a sleeping beauty, he criticised.

Bhattacharjee also highlighted the farmers’ misery saying they are finding it difficult to sell their crop as the “price they are getting is uneconomical”. Explaining the current labour scenario of the country. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee sharply criticised the Manmohan Singh government for incessantly taking anti-people decisions that have severely affected the working population of the country.