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Thursday, November 14, 2013

"CITU HOLDS MEETING OF PRIVATE ORGANISED SECTOR WORKERS" - Hemalata


"CITU HOLDS MEETING OF PRIVATE ORGANISED SECTOR WORKERS" - Hemalata

THE 14th conference of the CITU emphasised the importance of paying special attention to organise the workers in the private organised sector including in the big national and multinational corporations and mobilise them in the struggle against the anti-worker policies of the government. The insensitive government cannot be forced to reverse its neo-liberal policies unless the working class including those in the nerve centre of the capitalist production process unleashes its full striking power. Through their crucial role in the country’s production process and its economy, the workers in the organised sector, through their organised collective struggles, can exert such force. The CITU has rich experience of organising these workers and successfully leading their struggles in some states. However it was decided that such efforts need to be multiplied several times to develop a strong movement of the organised sector workers to create an impact at the national level.

It is as part of such efforts that a meeting of the CITU leaders and cadres from some select states was organised in Hyderabad on October 30–31, 2013. 88 delegates including office bearers of the CITU state committees and of its unions in the private organised sector from eight states – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra, Odisha and the NCR states including Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh - participated in the meeting. The significant feature was the participation of many worker leaders who have directly participated and led several struggles in their industries and were also subject to victimisation. Workers from industries like ITC, MICO, Hindalco, Toyota, Ford, Volvo, Ashok Leyland, Foxconn, Mahindra and Mahindra, Reid and Taylor, Sansera, Sandwik, Sab Miller etc and units in the Special Economic Zones etc participated.

Tapan Sen, general secretary and S Dev Roye and Hemalata, secretaries of CITU represented the CITU centre. Hemalata presided over the meeting.

VARIED EXPERIENCES

Tapan Sen made the opening remarks and observed that the state committees of the CITU participating in the meeting had different types of experiences in organising the workers in the organised sector including those in the big national and multinational corporations. The CITU state committee of Karnataka had led prolonged and bitter struggles of workers in several big factories around two decades ago and had to make huge sacrifices. It has now established itself as a strong and recognised force among the organised sector workers and is making planned efforts to raise the consciousness of the workers and consolidate its influence in addition to expand to newer units. In Tamilnadu, the CITU state committee was conducting wide campaigns on the common issues and effectively intervening in many spontaneous struggles of the workers in the modern industries. Through such interventions it was able to expand its influence to many other units, forming unions there. The Andhra Pradesh state committee of CITU has prepared a concrete plan for its work among the workers in the organised sector and was taking organisational measures including allocation of cadres, conducting surveys and studies, widespread campaigns and struggles on the identified demands. Its struggles during the recent times have seen increasing participation of workers and expansion of its influence. In the Nasik and Thane industrial area in Maharashtra too, several struggles led by the CITU or its leaders were held which were able to force the managements to come to the negotiation table. In Odisha, several big industries are coming up particularly in the steel and power sectors. The state committee of the CITU which has been organising workers in the industrial areas of Paradeep etc has formed unions in some of these industries. Similarly the CITU state committees in the National Capital Region of Delhi had varied experiences. However, a very large segment of the organised sector workers, particularly those in industries that emerged during the post liberalisation period remain outside the purview of the organised trade union movement.

Tapan said that this meeting was mainly meant to share all these varied experiences and discuss on how these could be utilised to expand our movement among the workers in the private organised sector as a whole. The experiences in all the states indicate that there are many possibilities to advance our movement among these workers. What are required are an organised mindset, proper perspective and planning, consistent efforts and organisational initiatives by the state committees. He also emphasised the importance of allotting suitable cadres who should be willing to learn and develop an in depth understanding of the concerned industry, the production process of the industry and its units and of the concrete working and living conditions of the workers.

VICTIMISATION TACTICS

38 delegates participated in the discussion and narrated their experiences. They vividly described the tactics being practiced by several big industries including the national and multinational corporations. Several designations like LTTE (Long Term Trainee Employee), FTC (Fixed Term Contract), JE (Junior Executive), OJT (On Job Trainee) etc were used to prevent the workers from getting organised. Different methods like Frequent Time and Motion Study, E – management etc were used to increase production and thus exploitation of the workers. A common feature that became clear in all the states and all industries and enterprises, whether owned by Indian or foreign corporations, was their strong antipathy towards the workers getting organised, particularly under the banner of the CITU. Various measures like large-scale victimisation including summary dismissals, prolonged suspensions, illegal transfers, implication of the mass of workers in false criminal cases are being used by the managements to intimidate the workers and prevent them from joining the CITU. The courts in general have been denying to intervene, to protect the democratic rights of the workers. The labour department, almost everywhere and always, sided with the employers. They refused to talk to the union leaders calling them ‘outsiders’. The CITU leaders and cadres in several states were also implicated in false cases including criminal cases for supporting the workers and their struggles. But despite all these difficulties, the CITU is increasingly being recognised by the workers as the only trade union that always stands by the workers never succumbing to the pressures of the employers.

Several suggestions were also made by the delegates for the advance of the CITU, like initiative from the CITU centre to train new leadership to face the challenges, on legal issues, on developing solidarity movements etc. The importance of making special efforts to organise the contract workers, raising the consciousness of the permanent workers on the issue and the need to develop coordinated movements in multi unit industries was also emphasised.

NEED FOR PERSISTENT AND SUSTAINED EFFORTS

Intervening in the discussion, Tapan Sen said that the workers in the new emerging industries were different from the workers in the old industries. Their age, education and vision etc had to be kept in mind while organising them. Media, internet, the consumerism, individualism promoted by the neo-liberal policies all exerted influence over them. It was not easy to involve them in collective work. However, as the experiences enumerated by the delegates showed, the CITU has been able to organise them wherever persistent and sustained efforts were made. To be effective in organising these workers, the concerned CITU cadres must be politically conscious and acquire the necessary intellectual and organisational skills. Macro level initiatives to expose the government policies and the capitalist system combined with micro level interventions at the factory level to address the specific problems and organise the workers are both necessary.

Prasanna Kumar, national secretary of the CITU and the general secretary of its Karnataka state committee and Swadesh Dev Roye also addressed the meeting. Hemalata made the concluding remarks and emphasised the importance of documenting all the experiences and the need to send timely and regular reports. The state committees that have participated in the meeting must take appropriate follow-up measures for this exercise to be fruitful. She requested the participants to send the concrete information on the incidents of violation of labour laws so that these can be raised with the government and the administration at various levels. All the experiences shared by the different state committees and unions would be useful in formulating guidelines which can be utilised in other states where many new industries were coming up. She thanked the Andhra Pradesh state committee of the CITU, particularly the Medak urban district committee and the CITU affiliated Sandvik Employees’ Union, Mahindra and Mahindra Employees’ Union, Pepsico Employees’ Union and Sab Miller Employees’ Union which have hosted the meeting and made excellent arrangements.

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