for building a democratic labour movement in India
A convention of 11 Central Trade Unions (CTUs) has declared a nationwide strike on September 2 that will cover public and private sectors including banking and railways. The strike call is against the labour policy of the Union Government. It will also press a charter of demands that predates the Modi government.
“The government is aggressively bringing sweeping changes to push the overwhelming majority of workers out of the coverage of all labour laws and to drastically curb trade union rights,” a statement issued by representatives of the CTUs, said on Tuesday. The convention that coincided with the first anniversary of the Modi government said in the past year labour laws were being amended to empower the employers with unfettered rights to “hire and fire.” “Also, through changes in the existing land acquisition Act, farmers’ right to land and agriculture workers’ right to livelihood are being sought to be drastically curbed and curtailed,” the statement said.
Committee for negotiations
B.N. Rai, BMS president, said unless the government shows flexibility and addresses the demands raised by the unions, there can be no escape from the national strike even as the Prime Minister formed a ministerial committee for negotiations with the CTUs. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh are members of the panel.
The Indian National Trade Union Congress, the All India Trade Union Congress, the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, the All India United Trade Union Centre, the All India Central Council of Trade Unions, the Trade Union Coordination Committee, the United Trade Union Congress, the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India and the Labour Progressive Federation were also represented in the convention.
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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.