for building a democratic labour movement in India
Indian working class will be on a historic 48 hours General Strike on 20th and 21st February 2013. The call for the strike is given by Eleven Central T.Us and supported by various National Federations, independent trade unions and other workers’ organizations.
The series of general strikes in last few years as a joint action of major trade unions is one of the most important developments in the labour movement in the phase of globalization. With an all round attack on the working class, decreasing strength of the trade unions, emergence of a wave of independent trade unionism, and rising discontent among the working class not only against the state and capital but also against the social, political forces including the trade unions for not being able to represent their voice, the central trade unions were compelled to come together to maintain their relevance in terms of representing the voice of the working class. The initiative was taken by the left trade unions in the form of developing a common platform of central trade unions for uniting the voice of working class to build a united labour struggle at national level against the anti-labour policies of corporate led globalization. It was the 13th General Strike of the Indian working class since 1991 on 7th September 2010, which reflected that common platform of all central trade unions may soon be a reality. The platform got further widened with INTUC joining the common platform and general strike of 7th September 2010. About 100 million workers all over India participated in this general strike making it a historic event and also strongly reflected on the growing discontent among the working classes against the corporate led globalization. Soon the two other central trade unions Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) affiliated to far right political party Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), and Labour Progressive Front (LPF) affiliated to a regional political party in Tamil Nadu- Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) were also compelled to join the common platform. A National Convention of Central Trade Unions and Industrial Federations was held in New Delhi on 7th September, 2011 for planning and preparation of the next general strike. Finally all the Central Trade unions, as recognized by the Government of India were on a joint platform for the first time in the history of independent India to declare a day’s General Strike. A central coordination committee of central trade unions was formed in the leadership of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) represented by its president Sanjeeva Reddy. Sanjeeva Reddy is also the president of the SAARC Trade Union Council (SARTUC). 28th February 2012 strike was the biggest ever, the countrywide general strike in post colonial India precisely because it was called by all eleven Central Trade Unions (CTUs), including AITUC, CITU, INTUC, BMS, TUCC, UTUC, AICCTU, HMS, AIUTUC, LPF and SEWA and independent federations supported by more than 5,000 smaller unions across the country. Key sectors of the Indian economy such as banking, insurance, telecom, transport, mining, postal and manufacturing was massively represented in the strike. The unprecedented unity shown by trade unions evoked massive response from the workers. As per initial estimates, more than 100 million workers all over the country – from Jammu & Kashmir in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south, from Assam in the east to Gujarat in the west participated in the strike opposing the anti worker and anti people policies of the government. Besides, joint campaigns in all major states were also conducted on a wider scale.
The strike of February 20-21, 2013 is expected to be at a wider scale than that of 2012.
This time, sectoral level united conventions and campaign programmes have reached a new high. The National Convention of Central Public Sector Unions on 15the December in Chennai, had participants from all the central undertakings belonging to BMS, INTUC, CITU, AITUC, HMS and LPF along with independent unions and their Joint Action Committees from Bangalore and Hyderabad. Joint Conventions were then held at Sectoral level – Steel, Coal, Petroleum, NTPC, Power Grid and also State Electricity Boards, Public and Private Transports. In all these conventions and joint meetings we could see unprecedented unity and also energetic participation of many new organizations even from the North-Eastern States. In the central PSUs, all the participative unions are conducting joint campaigns and have served strike notices jointly. In the Banking Sector, which had seen a countrywide strike on 20th December against the Banking Law Amendment Bill, all in Unity for the 48 hours strike is ensured by the call given by United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) which has all unions of employees and officers as its constituents. Telecom Sector also will see a complete strike with 13 unions of workers coming together to participate in the strike. Insurance Sector, will, as usual, have full participation in the strike. All the major Ports in the county will come to a grinding halt on these two days, with all the National Federations giving a joint call. Various organizations of State and Central Govt. Employees and also Teachers have come forward to participate in the struggle and has taken lead in the campaign in many states. In the Defence Sector, Civilian employees in all production centres and offices will join the 2 day strike. All the three federations, AIDEF, BPMS and INDWF have jointly decided to go on strike. Millions of scheme workers like Anganwadi, Asha, Mid Day Meal Workers will participate in the strike. In Anganwadi, National level organizations affiliated to CITU, AITUC, INTUC, HMS and BMS has served the strike notice on Central Government jointly. In all the major industrial centres in the country, Private Sector industries will see complete participation in strike. Even in centres like Gurgaon, Manesar, Ghaziabad and also in Sriperumpudur in Tamilnadu, Bangalore and surrounding areas in Karnataka and in Greater Hyderabad area, full scale preparations have been done. Unorganized Sector Workers like Construction, Beedi, Handloom-Powerloom, Head load workers in the forefront of campaigns. In addition to the conventions, largely attended public meetings are being held in various states in which top level leaders are addressing the workers. Various regional trade unions organizations in Maharashtra, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala and Tamilnadu and Traders Organizations in different parts of the country have decided to support the struggle and make the general strike a success. The positive impact of the campaign and the increased support was reflected in the country wide Rasta-Roko and Court Arrest programmes of 18th/19th December 2012 and the March to Parliament on 20th December, with massive participation of men and women from nearby states.
 Resurgence of the working class movement: Hopes and challenges reflected in the recent struggles; http://workerscentre.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/resurgence-of-the-working-class-movement-hopes-and-challenges-reflected-in-the-recent-struggles.pdf
 Nation gets ready for the historic General Strike; http://ganashakti.com/comments/comments-single-view/article/nation-gets-ready-for-the-historic-general-strike.html
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In the new global politico-economic regime with new international division of labour, informalization of labour, free mobility of capital, alarming expansion of reserve army of labour and creation of global reserve army of labour for capital, and a system of regulating at international level and deregulating at national level, the pre-globalization strategies of organizing and collective bargaining have largely become ineffective and irrelevant. Therefore the labour movements and the social, political movements in general need to develop and implement new strategies of organizing and collective bargaining effective in new global politico-economic regime.
Divide, isolate and rule is the most important aspect of the capitalism to control the labour by not letting the working class emerging as a unified force. Dividing the working class in different sectional interests, and intensifying social conflicts (caste, gender, religion, regionality and nationality conflicts etc) are important strategies of capitalism. On the other hand, by its various institutions and propaganda, the capitalism blurs the link between various sectional problems and their linkage with the capitalist system and therefore the movements appear detached from each other and focused on their sectional issues rather than challenging the capitalist system that produces and reproduces these problems.
The fate of social, political movements in India depends on their attitude towards learning and building unity in diversity at various levels to defeat the capital’s attempts to divide, isolate and rule. The revival of labour movement also depends on this factor.
Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures,”
Social progress depends not upon the ennoblement of the few but on the enrichment of democracy; universal brotherhood can be achieved only when there is an equality of opportunity - of opportunity in the social, political and individual life.