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Friday, October 4, 2013

Onto the All India Convention of Working Women - K Hemalata

Onto the All India Convention of Working Women

K Hemalata

IT has been the practice of the CITU to organise the national convention of the All India Coordination Committee of Working Women around two months before the national conference of the CITU. The CITU conference discusses and adopts the tasks among working women based on the tasks outlined in the AICCWW convention.

However, this practice could not be followed this time before the 14th conference of the CITU which was held in the first week of April this year. This is mainly because the entire organisation was busy with the preparations for the two days’ joint general strike on February 20 – 21, 2013. The 14th conference of the CITU regretted this inability and decided to organise the AICCWW convention from September 29 to October 1, 2013 in Puri in Odisha.

The tenth convention of the AICCWW will be held in the background of an alarming reduction in the labour force participation of working women. NSSO reports indicate a drastic decline in the labour force participation of women in the last thirty years, particularly in the rural areas. In the urban areas, domestic work is the only area which has been increasingly providing jobs for women workers. Women are thus struggling to first find some work and then to make both ends meet with their meager wages. The continuous rise in the prices of all essential commodities, particularly of the food articles is imposing huge strain on working women who find it increasingly difficult to feed their families. Overwhelming majority of women workers continue to work in the unorganised sector. The few protective labour laws for working women are not implemented, as are the labour laws in general. Violence and sexual harassment against women at workplace are on the rise. For the vast majority of working women, the neo-liberal policies of reforms being implemented by the successive governments at the centre, whether led by Congress or the BJP, have imposed huge burdens.

At the same time the participation of working women in trade union struggles has increased during this period. In the recent period, in almost all the states, women constituted around half or more of the total workers participating in the different rallies, demonstrations etc of the CITU. In joint trade union mobilisations too, working women’s participation has significantly increased. In many states, working women, particularly the scheme workers like the anganwadi employees, ASHAs, mid day meal workers etc participate in militant struggles facing police oppression and victimisation by the employers. The number of working women coming forward to take up more responsibilities in trade unions is also increasing. However, compared to their participation in trade union activities and struggles, the proportion of working women in the leadership positions of trade unions is still far from satisfactory.

The tenth convention will discuss all these different issues before the working women in the country, their conditions, their struggles, the role of the trade unions in addressing their specific problems and participation of working women in the general trade union movement. Around 300 delegates from all over the country representing working women from the organised as well as the unorganised sectors are expected to participate in the convention. As per the direction of the 14th conference of the CITU, the president or the general secretary of the state committees of the CITU from almost all the states will also be attending the tenth convention of the AICCWW. Tapan Sen, general secretary of the CITU will inaugurate the convention and guide its proceedings.

The convention will also chalk out certain concrete tasks to organise larger sections of working women, to reach the yet unreached women workers and employees, to mobilise them into struggles on their specific demands as well as those of the other sections of workers and people in general.

These tasks adopted by the tenth convention of the AICCWW will then be discussed in a workshop that will soon be conducted by the CITU to prepare a plan of action to be implemented by all the state committees. The central and state level leaders of the CITU and the convenors of the state coordination committees of working women will be participating in this workshop.

Preparations for the tenth convention of the AICCWW are going on in full swing. The Odisha state committee of the CITU constituted a reception committee which is approaching various sections of the workers and the common people seeking their support. The leaders of the anganwadi employees’, ASHAs’ and mid day meal workers’ unions who participated in the 14th conference of the CITU in Kannur were highly impressed and inspired by the reception extended to them there. They are excited to receive working women delegates from all over the country in their own state and decided to bear the major responsibility of the convention including mobilising funds and providing volunteers. In the meeting of the reception committee, they expressed their determination to do everything they can to make the delegates comfortable and the AICCWW convention a great success.

The reception committee has also decided to organise a huge procession and public meeting of working women in Puri on August 29. The CITU affiliated unions have started the campaign for the convention, holding meetings to mobilise working women and men for the rally. 

The tenth convention of the AICCWW is expected to be a landmark in the efforts of the CITU to organise working women as per its broader perspective of uniting the entire working class and strengthening the struggles to change the anti-worker policies of the government and ultimately the exploitative system itself.

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