Trade Unions resolve to organise a General Strike on September 2, 2016
On March 30, hundreds of representatives of trade unions and workers organizations representing different branches of the economy participated in a All India Convention of workers at the Mavlankar Auditorium, New Delhi. Apart from leaders and activists of various central trade unions, there were activists from defense sector, power sector, telecom, postal department, railways, banking and insurance, coal mines, plantations, road transport, steel plants, port and dock workers, and mining sector. Representatives of scheme workers, beedi workers, construction workers as well domestic workers also enthusiastically participated in the Convention.
The Convention observed that the All India General Strike of September 2, 2015 as well as the All India Protest Day organized on March 10, 2016 were both successful actions. They showed that the working class was extremely angry at their conditions, and ready to fight. However, all facts show that the Central and state governments are determined to continue on the anti worker, anti social course.
The Convention noted that the government has been single-mindedly pursuing the course of making such changes to the existing labour laws to enable the Indian and foreign capitalists to intensify the degree of exploitation of workers. On January 12, 2016, the Labour Secretary, Government of India issued a executive order granting exemption to all companies that claim to be Start Ups from inspection and application of nine major labour laws, including Trade Union Act, Factories Act, and the Minimum Wages Act.
The proposed Small Factories (regulation of Service Conditions) Bill prescribes that 14 major labour laws will not apply to factories employing upto 40 workers. The government is moving amendments to labour laws to make it extremely difficult for workers to register unions, while making it extremely easy for the employers to retrench workers or close down their enterprises. Taken together, the different amendments to the labour laws are aimed at allowing the capitalists to greatly intensify the exploitation of workers.
The Convention noted that in almost all the states, the work place level struggles of workers are sought to be crushed through repression including intimidation and arrests by the state machinery. The working class condemns the savage onslaught on workers struggles in Rajasthan, Haryana, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and other states.
The Convention exposed and condemned the plans of the government for privatization of key public sector enterprises, including Banks and Insurance companies, railways, defence sector companies, oil sector companies, and Heavy Engineering companies. This privatization is being carried out in various names, including strategic sale, disinvestment, Public Private partnership, and Foreign Direct Investment. The Convention declared its complete opposition to this thoroughly anti national and anti social course.
The Convention noted that the government was bent on violating the recommendations of the 43rd, 44th and 45th Indian Labour Conferences. These recommendations included how minimum wages should be calculated, ensuring that contract workers were paid the same wages as regular workers, and on ensuring that Scheme Workers such as Anganwdi workers, mid day meal workers, ASHA workers, para teachers etc were granted the status of workers.
The Convention reiterated the 12 point Charter of Struggle. These include scrapping of all labour law reforms aimed at intensifying exploitation of workers; Minimum Wages of Rs 18,0000 with indexation; end to contact labour; social security and pension for all workers; and compulsory registration of trade unions within 45 days.
The Convention called upon all the trade unions, federations across different sectors to strengthen unity at the base and prepare for the following actions
- Joint conventions and campaigns during June-July 2016 in states, districts and industry level and take initiative to involve peasants, agricultural workers and mass of people in the campaign
- Mass dharna in state capitals and industrial centers on August 9, 2016.
- All India General Strike on September 2, 2016.
Resolutions condemning the decision of the Haryana government to push anti worker labour law changes was adopted, Other resolutions condemned the lathi charge on Honda workers in Rajasthan, and the two life term sentence awarded to workers of Pricol factory in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu.