A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 17, No. 11, 12 – 18 MARCH 2014
Confront Modi’s United Front of Corporate-Communal Thuggery
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) of Raj Thackeray has declared its support for Modi as Prime Minister. MNS will field candidates against its rival and BJP ally Shiv Sena, but not against BJP.
The Modi campaign has taken the shape of a united front of a variety of unsavoury forces: the RSS and its constituent communal outfits; thugs of various hues including moral policing brigades, organisations implicated in Dabholkar’s killing, regional-chauvinists like Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena, and khap panchayats; and corporate houses. This gang-up includes godmen like Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (unfortunately Asaram has been eliminated from this line-up thanks to his being in jail charged with rape of a minor girl). Among the various opportunists who have made a timely strategic shift and joined this gang-up, we can also count the imperialist US Government, which has made an about-turn in its position and extended its tacit blessings for Modi.
Modi’s campaign has essentially been dominated by ‘theme Gujarat’ and ‘team Gujarat’, and the Gujarat Government’s resources being put at the services of Modi’s Prime Ministerial campaign. With Raj Thackeray’s support in addition to Shiv Sena’s, Maharashtra’s might has been added to Gujarat’s fuel power. Gujarat and Maharashtra are both arenas of corporate assertion and the corporate model of ‘development’, and Modi’s campaign has taken on the overtones of the corporate home base against more backward regions. Modi indicated as much by declaring that the ‘eastern’ states, associated with left and non-Congress non-BJP parties, needed to be brought in line with the ‘developed western states.’ It is ironic that Modi, bragging to the people of Bihar about the development model of the ‘western states’, forgets that his allies in Maharashtra are responsible for thrashing the migrant labourers from Eastern India, whose labour contributes in no small way to the corporate-led ‘development’ of those states!
Recent realignments are also revealing the hollowness and insincerity of the ‘Third Front’ being peddled by the CPI and CPIM. In less than a month since the 11-party grouping met in Delhi on 10 February, the Front is showing tears and strains. The AIADMK has coolly walked out of the Front leaving CPIM high and dry: clearly because Jayalalithaa would like to keep the option of supporting Modi (or Mamata), as the situation may demand, post elections. Clearly, such a Front cobbled together with parties without the slightest consistency or secular-democratic principles, cannot possibly offer any resistance to the BJP. In other states too, including Bihar and Odisha, the seat-sharing arrangements with JDU and BJD are seeing the CPIM and CPI cut a sorry figure. These developments hold a lesson for the CPI and CPIM. Time and again, their model of essentially opportunist alliances covered by the fig leaf of ‘secular front,’ ‘common minimum programme’ or ‘third front’ have not only discredited and tarnished the cause of struggles against communal forces and neoliberal policies. They have also contributed to a steady marginalisation, and erosion in the strength and credibility, of the Left. The fact that such alliances yielded some seats for the CPI and CPIM has helped to disguise it, but with time, the erosion and marginalisation has become unmistakeable.
To confront Modi’s united front of communal-corporate thuggery, we cannot possibly rely on political opportunists with a track record of promoting corporate plunder and complete lack of consistent anti-communal principles and practice. People’s movement forces and the Left, instead of passively relying on such opportunist and unprincipled forces and alliances, need to unite and boldly assert a robust agenda of democracy, justice, people’s rights, and reversal of anti-people policies.
AIPWA’s 9th West Bengal State Conference
The 9th West Bengal State Conference was held at Kolkata on 8th March, International Women’s Day. The Conference was held at the Bharat Sabha Hall, named the Aparajita Mancha for the occasion. The Conference began with the hoisting of the AIPWA flag and floral tributes to the martyrs. The Conference was marked by the active and enthusiastic participation of working women, students, and victims of gender violence.
Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA National Secretary addressed the delegates and guests, speaking about the need to assert the agenda of the women’s movement for freedom, dignity and rights, in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. She spoke of Anna Hazare’s support to the Mamata Banerjee Government as an insult to the women’s movement, since not only had the Government been utterly callous in its response to a spate of rapes, and had even unleashed rape as an act of political vendetta, but had also presided over corruption scams like the Chit Fund scam that had caused rural poor women to commit suicide out of desperation.
The outgoing State Secretary Chaitali Sen presented the work report, highlighting the struggles for justice waged by AIPWA in a series of rape cases in the State, and the struggles for rights of working women.
AIPWA activists from amongst women workers and students, as well as survivors of gender violence, addressed the Conference. One mother of a minor girl who had suffered rape, spoke of the struggle for justice in the face of isolation and pressure – only to be met with hostility from the police, which delayed filing an FIR on the illegal pretext that the ‘medical report has not been prepared’, and the biased prosecution which weakened the chargesheet, making it possible for the accused to secure bail. Speaker after speaker bore testimony to the fact that the TMC Government had unleashed an offensive on women’s rights, and had tried to muzzle freedom of expression and the voices of resistance to patriarchy.
AISA activists enthused the gathering with the presentation of rousing songs. The gathering was also addressed by senior AICCTU leader and organizer of working women, Comrade Mina Pal, as well as other activists of AICCTU and AISA.
The Conference elected a 47 member Council and a team of office bearers – with Gouri Dey as President, Malina Baxi as Vice President, Chaitali Sen as Secretary, Indrani Dutta and Archana Ghatak as joint secretaries, Chandrasmita Goswami as Office Secretary, and Kalyani Goswami as treasurer. The Conference was followed by a spirited march from the venue to College Square, where activists addressed a street corner gathering.
Updates from TN
Left Cadres Switch to CPI(ML)
100 CPI party members along with 1200 mass organization members joined CPI(ML)and its frontal organisations in Tiruvellore district. With CPI and CPI(M) tailing behind AIADMK, these 100 members with more than 20 years of CPI membership in this region, as well as 1200 members of various mass organizations joined CPI(ML) at a Rally and public meeting organized by the party on various demands of the people on 5th March 2014. The programme was presided over by Com. Janakiraman, district secretary of CPI(ML). The rally demanded 1000 bed hospital at Sengundram, an Arts College, minimum wages of Rs.15000 to all working people, one ration shop to every 500 households, 3 cent house site pattas to all homeless people as promised by Jayalalithaa government, public toilets for women in market areas, pakka connecting roads to all villages, and an end to displacement of people in the name of road expansion. Speakers at the Rally included Party PBM Com. Kumarasamy, CCM Com. Bhuvana, and SCM Com. A S Kumar.
CPI(ML) Candidate from Coimbatore
Comrade Chandran, a worker in Laxmi Machine Works and also Honorary President of district AICCTU was announced as a candidate for Coimbatore parliamentary constituency by CPI(ML) in a mass public meeting of 1200 workers. Com. Balasubramanian, District Secretary presided over the meeting. Com. Shankar, CCM introduced the candidate. Com. Balan, State President of Karnataka AICCTU also spoke. Com. Kumarasamy, PBM was the main speaker. Other speakers included Com. Bala Murugan, General Secretary of Shanthi Gears Union, Com. N K Natarajan, State President of AICCTU, Com. Janakiraman, district vice president of AICCTU and Com. Chandran, the candidate. The survivor of the ovum racket in Namakkal district and Com. Kathiravan, district committee member of CPI(ML) who were brutally attacked for exposing it, also participated in the meeting.
Dr. Ambedkar Union Branch at Karur
The Dr. Ambedkar Electricity Board Employees and Engineers Association affiliated to AICCTU opened its branch at Karur with an inaugural meeting on 26th January. Com. Balraj, state vice president presided over the function. About 70 employees from among sanitary workers to engineers, participated. Com. Ramachandran, district organiser, Com. Desikan State secretary and Com. Chandra Mohan, state vice president of AICCTU addressed the meeting. Com. Ramachandran, State President and Subramanian, State Secretary of the Association also spoke.
Campaign and meetings by RYA
From February 23–26, RYA organized campaigns at various places in Sanguvarchatram and Thirumangalam areas demanding closure of Tasmac (wine shops run by state government) shops, effective Lokayuktha in the state to combat corruption, provision of minibuses to connect all villages with main roads, upgrading Anna hospital into 100 bedded hospital with all facilities, and minimum wage of Rs 15000 to all working people. On February 24th the RYA team met the contract workers of Hyundai car Factory at their gate. The Feb 26th public meeting was attended by 250 youths and workers of this area. It was presided by Com. Rajaguru, district president of Kanjipuram RYA. It was addressed by Com. Kumarasamy PBM of CPI(ML), Bharathi, National secretary of RYA, Com. Iraniappan, district secretary of CPI(ML). Earlier thousands of signatures were collected from people on these demands and it was decided in the public meeting to hand over the same to the Chief Minister personally.
On March 3rd, when RYA cadres assembled in front of the Secretariat to hand over the petition with thousands of signature to CM, permission was denied by the police and all of them were arrested and lodged in a hall till the evening.
Again on March 4th, a group of RYA cadres planning to lay siege to the head quarters of Tasmac wine shop were detained by police and released in the evening. On March 5th again they decided to proceed to Chief Minister’s house to hand over the petition. There was a heavy police bandobust around the area and RYA cadres were again arrested and detained.
Updates from Karnataka
Com. Balan as Karnataka State President of AICCTU
Comrade S Balan, a reputed lawyer in Criminal Law and also one of the prominent trade union leaders in Bangalore joined CPI(ML). Com. Nirmala, a trade union and political activist also joined the Party. Com. Balan is a fighter for the cause of workers and is also leading trade unions of various categories of unorganized and contract workers including those in public sectors like HAL, BHEL, BEML, in government sectors like municipal workers, in companies like Stump Schhule, BOSCH, Race Course and also state level unorganised workers like Quarry and Construction workers, Computer operators, nurses, etc. In an AICCTU meeting held recently S. Balan was also chosen as the Karnataka State President of AICCTU while Com. Bharadwaj, was made the State General Secretary and Appanna as Secretary in a state level meeting of activists. The meeting also decided to hold the state conference of AICCTU in May, 2014.
Municipal Workers in Karnataka Demonstrate
BBMP Guttige Powrakarmikara Sangha (BBMP Contract Sanitation Workers Union), affiliated to AICCTU held a demonstration in front of the office of Labour Commissioner on 19 Feb. 2014 demanding monthly wages on par with workers engaged in same and similar work in Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) under Central Rule 25(2)(v)(a) of Contract Labour (Abolition and Regulation) Act, 1971.
More than 21800 workers are engaged in sanitation work in Bangalore by the BBMP; out of which more than 18700 workers are engaged by contractors and another 3100 plus workers are directly engaged by the BBMP itself.
AICCTU Intervention for Compensation to the Security Worker who Died inside the Factory
On 19th Feb, 2014, when a BOSCH company (German Multinational) employee Nagraj (security department - whose status of employment is disputed by the management) died inside the plant in mysterious circumstances, the attempt of the management and the police to cover up the case was foiled by the initiative of the AICCTU Karnataka State President and the leader of a section of contract workers' union. The police officials who initially targeted and threatened Com. S. Balan of dire consequences were forced to maintain restraint as hundreds of local people and a section of workers assembled near the factory gate. Ultimately, the body was allowed to be shifted out of the factory only after the management paid an on the spot cash compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs to the victim's family.
The capital is so ruthless and brutal that an employee is not even paid the required honours even after his death. Without the intervention of AICCTU, the family of the deceased would not even have got a meagre compensation.
AICCTU IN NIMHANS Hospital, Bangalore
Unorganised workers of NIMHANS formed a union, 'NIMHANS Pragathipara Workers' Union', affiliated to AICCTU and its inaugual General Body was held on 22 Feb. 2014. The workers demanded same payment and other service condiitons for the unorganised workers engaged in same and similar kind of work; regularisation of all unorganised workers and bring them under the pay rolls of NIMHANS; Service weightage; Hospital care allowance and Risk Allowance in addition to Privilege Leave, Casual Leave and Government Holidays; mandatory ESI to all and entitlement for treatment in NIMHANS Staff Clinic; Recruitment of more workers to reduce the work burden on existing lesser number of workers and to stick to Patient - Worker Norms for hospitals, etc. The General Body decided on the Demands Charter to be placed before the NIMHANS administration.
Next to PGI, Chandigarh and and Lallaram Hospital in Delhi, NHRM and ASHA workers in Bihar, Jharkhand and other Hindi speaking states, AICCTU has organised contract workers of NIMHANS in Bangalore. After a decisive battle, PGI has won an order of 'Same payment for same work' which is roughly equivalent to 23000 being drawn by any government employee in the lowest grade of Group D. NPWU / AICCTU has also joined the Confederation of Central Government Hospital Employees and Workers.
Dr. Pradnya Rajesh Bhargave of NIMHANS SC/ST Welfare Association, V Muthukumaran, Legal Advisor to NIMHANS Employees Association, Ravi R, Vice President of National Tuberculosis Institute Non Gazetted Staf Association addressed the gathering along with Com. Shankar, All India Vice President, S. Balan, Karnataka State President, Appanna, State Secretary of AICCTU and Ranjani of All India Progressive Women's Association addressed the gathering.
The General Body also decided to send a Workers' Charter of Demands to be placed before the NIMHANS administration and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of central government for speedy resolution.
Com. Shankar condemned the anti-worker attitude of the central government and demanded NIMHANS administration for early negotiation with the union in order to resolve all outstanding issues of the unorganised workers.
Com. Balan called upon all workers to resort to the path of struggle to win over the demands.
National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) is one of those handful of select medical institutions like AIIMS, Delhi, PGI, Chandigarh and JIPMER, Pondicherry. Recently, it has also won the status of a Deemed University. But, in spite of being a hospital run by the central government, none of the labour laws are in force. The central government, which is also an appropriate government, is showing utter neglect on unorganised workers' issues.
AICCTU in BEML, Kolar Gold Field, Karnataka
AICCTU held a convention of BEML (Bharat Earth Movers Ltd) central public sector workers at KGF (Kolar Gold Field) on 23 Feb. 2014 under the presidentship of Com. Balan, Karnataka State President of AICCTU. Mr. Bhupathy, Chairman of Central Advisory Contract Labour Board (CACLB), Mr. Cliffton of ALF (Alternate Law Forum), Shankar, Vice President, AICCTU addressed the gathering.
The convention was held in the context of BEML workers’ victory in securing an order from the Labour Commissioner advising the BEML Management to implement the Karnataka Government’s decision of giving ‘Service Weightage’ as per the Karnataka Government Notification No. CLA/CR-49/2010-11 dated 11 March 2013 and demanding same and similar payment for same and similar work under Central Rule 25(2)(v)(a) of the ID Act, 1947.
Com. Balan called upon workers to give a fitting reply to trading unions and to march on struggle to secure the benefits due to workers. He also traced the struggling history of BEML workers and the history of betrayal by the social democratic trade unions. He called upon workers to join the struggles of revolutionary trade union movement. Mr. Bhupathy, Chairman of CACLB elaborated the contours of abolition and regulation of contract labour and the act. Mr. Cliffton spoke on the issues related to ‘Same Payment for Same Work’. Shankar elaborated on the importance of renewed struggles to win over the due rights of workers.
AICCTU Demo for Service Weightage and Same Payment for Same Work
AICCTU (All India Central Council of Trade Unions) held a demonstration on 1st Mar. 2014 in front of Karnataka Labour Commissioner’s Office demanding implementation of ‘Service Weightage’ with retrospective effect and ‘Same and similar wages and service conditions for same and similar work’. Several unions of contract workers in public, private and government sectors, affiliated to AICCTU participated in the demonstration led by Com. S.Balan, State President of AICCTU.
The protest is organized with the primary demand of ‘Same Wages for Same Work’ as specified under the Central Rule 25(2)(v)(a) of Contract Labour (Abolition and Regulation) Act, 1971 and on par with workers engaged in same and similar work in corporate and multinational companies like Bosch, ITC, L&T Komatsu, Kenmetal, Federal Moghul and Central public sectors like BEML, BHEL, HAL, State government run Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), hospitals, etc.. The same is the case with unabated agitations by health sector workers including 108 Ambulance Service, TB Control and HIV Prevention departments, etc.
In the era of Liberalization, Privatisation and Globalisation, the regular workforce is shrinking drastically and on the contrary, the contract and other exploitative forms of employment are expanding. Lakhs of workers are engaged by corporate and multinational companies in Bangalore on contract basis. None of these companies abide by the labour welfare laws. While both the contract and regular workers are engaged in works of same or similar nature, the contract workers are severely discriminated in terms of wages and service conditions. An increase of a ‘Service Weightage’ of 2 per cent of basic pay per year of service notified by the Karnataka State Government on 11 Mar. 2013 is not yet implemented, even after a year.
Com. S.Balan, State President of AICCTU called upon workers to intensify the agitation and demanded the labour authorities to play a proactive role in implementation of service weightage and same payment for same work. He declared that struggle will continue till workers get their due share of benefits.
Com. Shankar, All India Vice President of AICCTU and Central Committee Member of CPI(ML) (Liberation), In-charge of Karnataka called upon workers to march on streets and make the struggle as a broad based movement involving all contract workers in Bangalore. He also called upon workers to expand the movement so as to challenge the powers that be. He also emphasized on the importance of workers participation in trade union struggles and activities.
The Protest demonstration was also addressed by Com. Cliffton, advocate for ALF (Alternate Law Forum), Appanna, State Secretary, Somu, District President, Puttegowda, CPI(ML) District Secretary, District Committee Members Mohan from BOSCH and Ravikumar from Stump Schuule.
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.cpiml.org