Call of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, 16th May, 2015
On May 26, leaders of the trade union movement from different sectors of the economy will gather in New Delhi to deliberate on the course of action that trade unions must chart at this time. The working class of India expects that this Conference of the Joint Action Committee of Trade Unions will come out with a plan to inflict a decisive defeat on the thoroughly anti-national and anti-social program of liberalisation and privatisation.
Exactly one year ago, the NDA came to power promising "Achhe Din" to all, and "Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas". Today, these slogans have been revealed as cruel jokes on our workers and peasants and intermediate strata — that is 95% of the population.
The biggest monopolies of our country and internationally are ensuring Acche Din for themselves by ruthlessly stepping up the degree of exploitation of the working class. The Central government is acting as their trusted manager. It is legalising these attacks on the working class and toiling peasantry by modifying existing laws, and passing new ones. The Indian and foreign monopolies are demanding that in the conditions of the crisis, more avenues be opened up for extracting maximum profits through privatization, PPP, and FDI. The Central Government has opened the doors for 100 % FDI in strategic sectors like Defence and Railways, and 49 % in Insurance and Pension Funds. It has passed an ordinance to make Acquisition of land of peasants, tribals and forest peoples much easier.
The government has put forward a new Bill in place of three existing laws — The Trade Unions Act 1926, the Industrial Relations Act, 1947 and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. One of the aims of this Bill is to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for workers to organize themselves effectively into unions and fight for their rights. Towards this end, it makes it a condition that to form a union, at least 10% of the workers of the enterprise must declare themselves to be its members.
The new Bill declares that “outsiders” cannot be members of trade unions. However, this criterion is not applied to various policy making bodies set up by the state which includes “experts” from all across the world. For instance, the Debroy Committee set up by the government to develop the roadmap for privatisation of the Indian Railways has an advisory committee that includes Ratan Tata, who has nothing to do with the Railways! If an outsider like Tata can provide advice on how to implement privatisation of the Railways, why cannot working class leaders from outside a company advise and be part of a workers’ union?
The new bill meets another demand of the capitalists — to make retrenchment of workers and closure of factories easier. At present, a factory that employs over 100 workers needs the permission of the appropriate government before retrenching workers or closing down. This limit is being raised to 300 workers, which means that lakhs more of workers can be thrown out of their jobs without any question.
The government is also combining four laws relating to payment of wages into one Labour Code on Wages Bill 2015. The Minimum Wages Act 1948, the Payment of Wages Act 1936, the Payment of Bonus Act 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 are being combined into this one bill. In doing so, the demands of workers’ unions regarding minimum wages and bonus have been completely ignored.
Workers have been demanding a National Floor Minimum wage below which no state government can fix minimum wages, and that this floor level wage should be computed on the basis of the recommendations of the Indian Labour Conference and the rulings of the Supreme Court. Ignoring this, the NDA government is even removing the power of the Central Government to fix minimum wages in certain industries, leaving it to state governments. In other words, various state governments will start competng with each other to push the minimum wage down to the lowest poosible level to make it attractive to capitalists to invest in their state.
The new Bill is an attack on the rights of women to oppose discrimination in wages and working conditions. It exempts more industries from the necessity to pay bonus to workers. In the name of eliminating “Inspector Raj”, it eliminates all mechanisms for enforcing penalties on companies violating the law.
Workers across all sectors are opposing the proposed amendments to the labour laws, which are designed to make it easier for capitalists to intensify the degree of exploitation of labour. Financial sector workers have organized numerous strikes against privatization. So have coal workers. Railway workers have opposed the Debroy Committee recommendations as well as the move to permit 100% FDI in railways. Defence Sector workers are opposing 100% FDI in Defence. Government employees have declared that they will go on indefinite strike in November. Railway unions and defence sector unions will take a strike ballot in October to decide on participating in the all-India strike. There was a countrywide strike on 30th April by transport workers against the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill.
The struggle that is raging is between two classes. On one side is the bourgeoisie, headed by the biggest monopolies, which is using control of state power to amass the lion’s share of the social product, in collusion with the imperialists. Privatization and liberalization, and the amendment to labour laws are tools to achieve this. On the other side stand the working class at the head of all the exploited and oppressed. The working class is fighting to preserve and expand its share in the social wealth created through its labour. It is fighting in defence of the interests of the peasantry and other sections of exploited people.
Thirty years ago, the bourgeoisie launched the "modernization" program with the slogan of taking India into the 21st century. This was further developed in the nineties into the program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation.. In the entire period of thirty years, the anti-worker, anti-national and anti-social character of this orientation has become extremely clear to every worker. The share of the working class in the social product has been steadily coming down, while the share of the monopolies in the social product has been steadily rising. Today, the Dollar billionaires of India control half the wealth of the country. On the other side, our country ranks amongst the lowest in the world in terms of health, literacy and other indices of human development.
In their desperation to become global players sitting on the high table with the biggest imperialists of the world, the Indian capitalists have pursued a reckless course. They are opening the doors of our country to maximum joint loot and plunder by domestic and foreign companies. They are militarizing the economy and joining the fascist warmongering imperialist alliance headed by US imperialism. This dangerous course can embroil us in a reactionary imperialist war against our people’s interests. It is a ruinous, dangerous, anti-national and anti-social course.
It is the conscious and organized working class that can transform this situation in favour of the people.
The immediate demands the working class agitates for cannot be limited to saying no to the attacks of the bourgeoisie. On the contrary, the working class must put forth demands that puts the bourgeoisie on the defensive and exposes its demagogy.
For instance, all the amendments to the labour laws, the merger of old laws into new ones, are being carried out in the name of “modernizing” these laws, many of which are decades old. However, under the guise of “modernising” the laws, the bourgeoisie is introducing retrogressive laws which deprive workers of hard won rights. These rights were secured as the result of a glorious struggle, waged internationally and in India in the 20th century inspired by the victory of socialism in the Soviet Union, by the working class for a modern definition of rights.
The working class must put forth an alternative law defining the rights of wage labor in today’s conditions, and agitate for it. The working class is the special product of modern society, with no social means of production in its hands. Its labour produces the wealth of society. All workers, by virtue of being workers, must be assured of the rights that belong to them. What these rights are must be concretely enumerated, and they must include an acceptable level of minimum wages, periodic compensation for consumer inflation, restriction on hours of work, protection against unemployment, health insurance, pension, education of the children, etc. It must be declared and accepted as the duty of the state to ensure that these rights belong to all workers and are inviolable, and constitutionally guaranteed with enforcing mechanisms. Women workers must be guaranteed rights as workers and as women.
A key demand should be that all wage and salaried employees are registered electronically as workers, with all the rights due to workers according to the modern definition of rights.
The aim of our struggle can be nothing less than overthrowing capitalism and reorienting the economy to ensure security and prosperity to all, by building socialism. Today, the principal means of social production and exchange are in the hands of the bourgeoisie. The working class needs to take over the means of production, bring it under social control, so as to be able to reorient the economy to ensure security and prosperity for all. For this, the first condition is that state power must be in the hands of workers and peasants.
The Communist Ghadar Party of India calls upon the workers to get organized to become the rulers, in alliance with the peasantry, and transform society from capitalism to socialism.
We workers constitute over half the population of town and country. We produce everything in society from needles to spacecraft, we build the skyscrapers, we mine under the earth for minerals, we run the financial institutions, we run the trains, the buses, and the planes. Together with our peasant brothers, we work on the land to produce precious food crops to feed society. No force on earth can stop us from becoming the rulers and transform society, once we determine to do so.
The present Party dominated system of democracy through which the bourgeoisie exercises its dictatorship needs to be replaced by proletarian democracy. Our struggle is not to replace one party of the bourgeoisie in power with another. Our struggle is to replace the rule of the bourgeoisie with the rule of the working class in alliance with the toiling peasantry. The bourgeoisie keeps smashing our unity and struggle by dividing our class, and lining us up behind different capitalist parties. We workers must fight for the independent program of the working class. We must refuse to get diverted by the parliamentary games of the bourgeoisie.
We need to get organised under one banner — the fighting banner of the working class. Let us build our united class organisations in factories and workplaces, residential areas and industrial centers around our program.
We workers must begin to think and act like rulers. The very act of framing alternate laws that define the rights of workers is a step in this direction.
The battle that is raging today in our country is between two classes and two diametrically opposite visions for India. The vision of the ruling class is a capitalist-imperialist India in which the land, labour and natural resources of our people are ruthlessly exploited in order to enable a tiny minority of big capitalists to be counted amongst the richest in the world. This is the aim of the “Make in India” program. In contrast is the vision of the working class — to build a strong and prosperous India in which decision-making power is wielded by the toiling majority of people, the means of production are under social control, and the economy is oriented to provide for all.
Let us fight with the aim of establishing worker-peasant rule so as to ensure security and prosperity for all!