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Fight to defend the universal rights of all workers!
Defeat the privatisation and liberalisation program!
Call of the Central Committee, Communist Ghadar Party of India, on the occasion of May Day 2012
May Day 2012 comes at a time when the capitalists of the world have launched the biggest offensive on our livelihood and rights. The worldwide anti-working class offensive that was launched by the capitalists and their governments in the eighties of the last century, has now been stepped up to even greater heights in the name of dealing with the global economic crisis.
Rights of workers are being trampled in the mud in the name of austerity and crisis management, on top of liberalisation and privatisation. At the same time, the resistance struggles of the workers are on the rise. The anger of workers is rising all over the world – from the United States to Korea, in Haiti, Puerto Rico, India and in many countries. There are reports of growing strike actions in recent months in Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, North Korea, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. In China there have been continuous strike waves; Indonesia has witnessed massive, widespread, militant protests against a proposed increase in fuel prices. Workers, unemployed youth and immigrants have joined hands in the US, targeting their anger at the “one percent”, the super-rich financial magnates.
May Day 2012 comes at a time when the clash of interests between capital and labour is extremely acute. Workers are mounting the barricades of class struggle, determined to defend our livelihood and rights. The struggle that is raging everywhere is over the question — why should governments be allowed to pursue the policy of bailing out the biggest monopolies and the financial oligarchy by attacking the livelihood and rights of the working class and other toiling people?
In our country, the prices of food and other essential consumption needs have been soaring. So have the rate of growth in profits and the private wealth of the Tatas, Ambanis and other monopoly business. The indebtedness of peasants and other small-scale family businesses, and the indebtedness of the central and state governments, have grown as rapidly as the clout of the big banks, insurance companies and various speculative fund.
The anger of workers has been rising against this system where the capitalist class amasses its wealth at the expense of the workers and peasants. It is a system where the producers of wealth are facing extreme insecurity of life and livelihood.
Everywhere, workers are very angry with this fact that those who are supposed to manage the economy – the Ministers, managers of public sector companies and officials have used their power and position to loot our natural resources and wealth created by the workers for filling the coffers of the capitalists and politicians and then declared that there is not enough money to provide for the families of workers and peasants.
The times are calling on the working class to come forward with the solution – the alternative to the existing political system and the economic program of liberalisation and privatisation.
The capitalist class and its spokesmen are spreading the idea that the only way for India to become a big power is by super-exploiting our labour and violating workers’ rights. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh claims that the existing policies are "unduly" protecting the interests of workers. This is what he said at the Indian Labour Conference in February.
“Trade unions that fight for workers’ rights are bad for the investment climate”. This is the mantra with which the capitalist class has been taking numerous measures to violate the rights of workers. Contract labour has become the norm. This is the case not only in private companies; about half the workers employed in the state sector are on contract.
While arguing that central labour laws need to be made more flexible, the central government has offered a separate set of benefits under a so-called Social Security Act 2008, for workers in the “unorganised sector”. The aim is to divide our class, destroy our identity as workers and trample in the mud the rights that belong to all of us, by virtue of being workers.
Every person of working age, who is willing to work, has the right to participate in the social labour process. If such a person cannot find productive and remunerative work it cannot be just the individual’s problem. It is the responsibility of the State to guarantee the right to work and to social security, including adequate compensation for the unemployed and adequate support after retirement age.
A wage-worker is not a slave. He or she does not belong to any employer full-time. A wage-worker sells labour-power for a fixed number of hours per day, for 5 or 6 days a week; the rest of the time is one’s own to spend with one’s family. Hence a strict legally enforced limit on the length of the working day is a right that belongs to all wage and salaried workers, without exception.
The wages paid for a day’s work, or a month’s work, must not be less than what is required to maintain the worker and dependents at home. Hence the right to receive a prescribed minimum wage, adjusted periodically to reflect cost of living and increase in minimum human living standards, is also a right that belongs to all workers, without exception. Every employed worker has the right to adequate breaks within the working day, to sick leave and annual leave, medical benefits and compensation for cost of living increase.
Women workers have the right to be paid equally with men for equal work. They have the right to adequate maternity leave, child care facilities at the work place and security protection when working late hours.
All employed workers have the right to form their unions and associations, to engage in collective bargaining with their employer. They have the right to strike, as one of the weapons in their efforts to ensure that their employer fulfils his obligations.
These are all universal rights. Universal means no exceptions.
We must demand and fight for the recognition of our basic rights as being universal and inviolable. We must demand and fight for effective mechanisms to ensure that anyone who violates these rights is severely punished.
Whatever form it takes, privatisation is an offensive against the security of livelihood and other basic rights of the working class. It is based on giving primacy to “monopoly right” – that is, the illegitimate right claimed by big capitalist corporations to freely go after maximum profits wherever they please. It is an abrogation by the State of its responsibilities to provide essential public services.
The aim of privatisation is to convert every sphere of economic and social activity possible into a source of maximum private profits in the hands of the capitalist monopolies. Far from contributing to the solution of the problems plaguing society, privatisation leads to their further aggravation and creates the conditions for even deeper crises in the future. It is not only an anti-worker offensive but an assault on the general interests of society as a whole.
Parties and organisations of the working class must not accept any justification for privatisation of any form. To accept that “loss making” public sector units can be privatised means to compromise with the capitalist program. Such compromising lines of thought must not be permitted to spread in the working class movement.
We must demand nothing less than an immediate halt to all forms of privatisation, followed by a reversal of deals already done.
The system of plunder in our country is integrated with the global imperialist system, creating an unbearable burden on the backs of the toiling majority. Monopoly finance capital, Indian and international, extracts a tribute from the vast majority of people – from the wages of workers, incomes of peasants and from the natural resources of our country. Not only is the economic system destroying the human productive forces, through super-exploitation and unemployment, it is also destroying nature.
The solution to the problem of unaffordable food prices lies in reorienting the economy, from being geared to ensuring maximum profits for monopoly capital, to being geared to constantly enhance the standard of living and productive capacity of the working population. The first step towards this solution is the establishment of a universal Public Distribution System, covering all essential articles of mass consumption and accessible to all.
A universal PDS means that society and the State must take responsibility for procuring, storing, transporting and supplying essential consumption articles, especially basic food items. They must be available at affordable prices to the working population, while those who grow and produce the food must be assured stable and remunerative prices.
The key to a universal PDS is the establishment of social ownership and control over trade. The major share of physical stocks of essential commodities must not be left in the hands of private profiteers.
In order to reorient the economy we need political power in our hands. Life experience shows that we cannot get anywhere close to political power by merely voting out one party and replacing it by another. We need to change the political system itself. On this May Day, let us recall the teachings of Karl Marx that the proletariat is the grave-digger of this decaying capitalist society, and the first step towards socialism is for the working class to become the ruling class.
Our united struggle has suffered in the past as a result of the line of class conciliation, which takes various forms. One form of class conciliation is to preach that the Congress Party is a “lesser evil” and “secular alternative” to the BJP. Another form is to create illusions about a Third Front of parties that would allegedly serve both the capitalist class and the working class. We must not allow our struggle to become once again subordinated to parliamentary games.
We need to unite firmly around our own independent program, aimed at establishing the rule of workers and peasants. We need to champion the rights of all workers, and the rights of our peasant brothers who are being robbed and ruined by the capitalist offensive, including the corporate land grab. We must strive to strengthen our unions in every sector and industry so that we can militantly resist the capitalist programme.
Let us uncompromisingly fight for one common set of programmatic demands, with the aim of replacing the rule of monopoly capital with the rule of workers and peasants!
Down with capitalism and the rule of the capitalist class!
Unite around the aim of ushering in workers’ and peasants’ rule!