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A year of militant struggles by the working class and peoples in defence of their rights
The year that has gone by has been characterised by militant struggles of workers, peasants and all the exploited and oppressed in defence of their rights.
The bourgeoisie has launched a massive all sided offensive on the rights of the toilers and tillers. It has been carrying forward the anti-worker, anti peasant and anti national program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation which it launched 20 years ago to realise its aims of becoming a world class imperialist power. It has ridden roughshod over the opposition of the people to this program. It has unleashed state terrorism including state organised communal genocides to further its aims. It is in this situation that the resistance struggles of the working masses are mounting.
The result of the two decades of “economic reform” since 1991 has been the highly uneven and lopsided economic growth. Contradictions between the exploiters and the exploited have been growing acute on the most basic question of feeding the population. Wage and salary earners have been hit hard by the steep rise in food prices, while the peasants have continued to face rising prices of inputs and insecure market for their produce. Contradictions have also intensified on the question of rights of tribal peoples and peasants over their land, the right of every adult to work and earn a secure livelihood, right to education, health care, drinking water and electric power supply, etc.
Bank employees, auto plant workers, pilots and locomotive drivers, cement factory workers, oil refinery workers, construction workers, agricultural workers, anganwadi workers, teachers and doctors, have all been out on the streets in recent months. They have repeatedly expressed their anger at the rising prices of the most essential goods; they have struck work demanding their claim of the value their labour has produced, demonstrated against unfair labour practices. Peasants and tribal people facing threat of eviction from their lands, the people living near the sites of the nuclear power plants, have waged major struggles this past year. Peasants in various regions have fought for remunerative prices for their produce.
The resistance struggle of our people against state terrorism including state organised communal genocides, and fascist laws, has continued.
Our people have expressed their solidarity with the peoples of other countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya who are the victims of unjust wars of occupation launched by US imperialism and its allies.
The mass participation of workers in various actions in recent months, against the bourgeoisie’s reform program, is clear evidence that they are no longer willing to put up with all-sided measures to intensify their exploitation. The most recent expression of this was when lakhs of workers from all sectors of the economy participated in an All-India Protest on November 8, 2011. Earlier lakhs of workers participated in a march to Parliament on February 23 2011 to protest against the anti-working class policies of the UPA government.
Workers in diverse sectors, from automobiles and auto parts to airlines and mobile phone services, are struggling to establish their unions. Workers of Maruti Suzuki in Manesar and Hyundai plant in Sriperumbudur near Chennai have waged militant actions against increased work load and for the right to form their unions. Workers from across several auto components plants in Manesar joined the strikes of the Maruti-Suzuki workers in a show of solidarity. Workers of General Motors plant at Halol-Gujarat, in Volvo, Ford and Mahindra plants have gone on strike demanding new wage agreements and for permanent employment as against being trainees. All-India loco workers and Mumbai suburban train motormen have organised various actions to protest their exploitative working conditions.
Air India workers, workers of nationalised banks and BSNL workers have been in the forefront of the struggle against privatisation. The Air India pilots have, in the course of their struggle, exposed the nefarious designs of the Government to liquidate and privatize the airline. In June 2011, 10 unions representing the different sections of the employees of Air India, including pilots, aircraft technicians, ground staff and cabin crew, aircraft engineers, radio officers and flight officers and service engineers came together to collectively take the struggle forward.
Bank workers have been agitating against mergers of branches and retrenchment, against the pressure to compete with private multinational banks and financial institutions, as well as for better wages and working conditions. Bank employees all over the country went on strike on August 5, 2011 at the call of the United Forum of Bank Employees. With one voice they declared—No to privatization of banks, No to loans from the World Bank, No to unregulated entry of foreign capital, reject Khandelwal Committee’s recommendations.
Postal workers all over the country have been agitating against the decision of the Department of Posts to shut down nearly 5000 post offices in the rural areas, for regularisation of over 2 lakh part time extra departmental workers working in rural areas with very low wages, and their intense exploitation.
There are lessons to be learnt from the experience of the class over the past decades. The most crucial lesson is that there cannot be an end to the exploitation and misery of working people in any circumstances under capitalism. The working class must not have illusions that capitalism can have a “human face”. We cannot look for solutions within this system to any of the problems that are facing the working people. We cannot be diverted by anyone to support one bourgeois Party in order to keep the other out. Our fight is not merely against this or that party but against this corrupt and parasitic capitalist system.
We must take up the work of building the political unity of the class around immediate and strategic measures aimed at a fundamental reorientation of the economy. We demand that the procurement and distribution of food and other essential items of mass consumption be brought under social control. There must be no place for private corporates in foreign trade and wholesale internal trade. We demand that the government invest in cold storage facilities, guarantee remunerative prices to peasants for all crops, and organise large scale retail under social control. We demand constitutional guarantee for the right to work and to social security, with effective mechanisms to enforce compliance as the concrete measure to protect workers from unemployment. We demand a halt to privatisation, to the transfer of public assets to private hands, in any form and under any name, and the reversal of the privatisation of public services like electricity, water, education, healthcare, municipal services and transport.
Communists have to lead this work of agitating for these and other measures with the aim of building unity of the workers with the peasants, and all those who are oppressed by the present system, around the program to ensure that our claims are fulfilled and our rights are protected. This struggle must be advanced with the perspective of taking political power from the capitalist class so as to reorient the economy to provide for all our needs, in place of its present orientation of enriching a parasitic class at the expense of the toiling majority.