for building a democratic labour movement in India
Center for Workers Education (CWE) is working to evolve in to a strategic research, education, cultural and information resource center of the working class. CWE is working with various sections of labour movement for building a democratic labour movement in India. Idea and need for Centre for Workers education was conceived by some activists working in the labour movement in the year 2000. It was realized that all-round offensives of globalization and liberalization has resulted in an overall downfall of the labour movement. To a large extent it has destroyed the structural base on
which the pre-globalization labour movement was based. The old strategies of organizing and struggle have largely become ineffective. In these situations the economism of many established trade unions has degenerated to the extent that at the ground they look more like a legal consultancy shops and bargaining experts rather than the working class organization. In these situations, organizing the workers and to empower them to exercise their rights of collective bargaining has become a challenging task, and it requires a major effort both at conceptual and practical levels to work out qualitatively new strategies of organizing the workers in qualitatively new conditions.
The situations are pessimistic only if we believe that there is no alternative. But if we believe that this is not the end of battle, rather, we are entering in a new phase of struggle with new challenges and new opportunities, then there are reasons to believe that in long term perspective new situations are far more promising for labour movement than the earlier phase. For example, the scattering of the assembly lines and informalisation of labour has made shopfloor unionism difficult, but it has opened immense opportunities for organizing the workers in industry level unions and practice of collective bargaining at industry level, raising the consciousness of workers beyond shop-floor, building solidarity between informal and formal workers, building the base of workers organizations in society rather than only at shop-floor and therefore also expanding the base of union activities in society and developing concern for broader socio-economic (questioning the development strategies), cultural (caste and gender issues, issues related to social evils, rising individualism and consumerism etc) and political (broader issues of democracy) issues of working class rather than only on factory related issues. Building the broader solidarity of the working class is inbuilt in these strategies. These strategies will in turn increase the power of working class at shop-floor also. Moreover, unrestricted mobility of capital, scattering of global assembly lines and export oriented development based on FDI is increasing the risks for the workers to alarming levels, but it is also compelling and providing opportunities for workers to develop a international solidarity of workers. Global assembly line has also created opportunities to build solidarity of industrial workers with other sectors of workers including the self employed producers.
However, to address these challenges, the most important task is to develop conceptually sound, well informed, well exposed and well trained organizers, researchers and campaigners from among the working class, who are able to articulate and conceptualize the new dynamics of realities, educate the workers and lead a collective process at gross root level to evolve new strategies, new ways and new means to organize the workers in present conditions. This task cannot be addressed by few persons or few trade unions in isolation, but it needs a collective effort at national, regional and international level. The interdependence and interlinking of fate of the workers at regional and global level in this phase of globalization not only compels to widen our horizons of work and forge broader alliances both at grass-root level and nationalinternational level, but also provides opportunities for it.
Center for workers Education was formed by the activists (with many years of valuable experience in the labour movement) to work in the direction as articulated above. Initially it started working informally with coordinated efforts of activists. Lastly in 2014 it was registered as Trust and given a formal shape with a formal organizational structure and well defined programs.