for building a democratic labour movement in India
A meeting on Sustainable Organizing Strategies for Informal Sector Workers was jointly organized by Centre for Workers Education, Environics Trust and Asia Monitor Resource Centre on July 5-6, 2013 at USO House, Jeet Singh Marg, New Delhi. More than 25 representative from more than 10 organizations participated in the meeting including Odisha ShramJeevi Sangh, Talcher, Odisha, PTS, Chennai, Domestic Workers Union, Bangalore, Delhi Shramik Sangathan, Delhi, Binodini, Kolkatta, VAMP, Sangli, All India Kabadi Majdoor Mahasangha, Delhi, Asangathit Majdoor Morcha, Bareily, Environics trust, New Delhi, Centre for Workers Education, New Delhi and Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong.
First day, in the first session of the meeting the participants introduced themselves and their organization and the sectors and regions they are working. The participants included from Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Delhi, and West Bengal.
In the second session, the problems of each and every sector, the organizing strategies and challenges faced were discussed in detail. The discussions were focused on problems of construction workers, domestic workers, sex workers, agriculture workers, Kite thred (Majha) workers, Kabadi workers, forest workers, and mine workers etc.
Second day in the first session participants were divided in to three groups to discuss on following issues:
In the end of the session, each group made its presentation and then whole house participated in the discussion.
In the last session there was a summing up of the discussion and exploring possibilities for sharing, exchange and working together. It was decided that we will form an e-group to connect with each other, so that we can share the developments in the organizations and movements with each other.
The sessions were addressed by Amulya Kumar Nayak from Odisha ShramJeevi Sangh, Sujata Modi from PTS, Chennai, Geeta Menon from Domestic Workers Union, Bangalore, Ramendra and Anita Juneja from Delhi Shramik Sangathan, Shashi Pandit from All India Kabadi Majdoor Mahasangha, Harish Patel from Asangathit Majdoor Morcha, Sreedhar Ramamurthi and Mohit Gupta from Environics trust, Surendra Pratap from Centre for Workers Education, Sanjiv Pandita and Apoorva from Asia Monitor Resource Centre etc.
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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.
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 emerge 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 machinery, 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 the working class movement also depends on this factor.