On January 31, 2013, a very important meeting was organized by the Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) in Mumbai on the theme, “What should be the response of the working class to the capitalist class’s program of globalisation through privatisation and liberalisation?” This conference was held in the backdrop of preparations of the working class for the All India Two Day General Strike of February 20th and 21st, for which all the constituents of KEC are organising actively.
The meeting was attended by representatives of All India Loco Running Staff Association, All India Guards Council, Voltas Employees’ Union, Hindustan Lever Employees’ Union, Western Railway Motormen’s Association, Mumbai Municipal Karmachari Mahasangh, Mumbai Municipal Purogami Teachers’ Union, National Railway Mazdoor Union, Lok Raj Sangathan, and Ladaku Garment Kamgar Union. Representatives of the BSNL Employees’ Union, National Federation of Postal Employees and Air India Service Engineers Association sent their messages of solidarity and expressed their inability to attend due to ongoing preparations for the All India General Strike.
Comrade Mathew, a leader of Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC), delivered the main speech. He presented many facts to prove that in the past 20 years of the implementation of the liberalization and privatization, the capitalists have multiplied their wealth by increasing the working hours, large scale employment of contract labour, privatisation of people’s assets, robbery through innumerable scams, etc. Today the combined wealth of the three biggest Indian Corporate houses, the Tatas, Ambanis and Birlas is Rs. 10 Lakh crores or 10% of the combined product of the entire Indian economy. The Indian capitalists are investing abroad and have made a road map to be in the league of imperialist powers like the US and China. On the other hand, the miserable condition of the working people has worsened greatly. The capitalist class is united in their associations like the CII, ASSOCHAM, FICCI, etc. Irrespective of their beliefs, religion, region, caste or language, they are united around their class aim of preserving their rule and increasing the exploitation of the people. To this end it promotes all sorts of divisions amongst the workers on the basis of religion, language, caste, political affiliations, etc. As leaders of the working class it is our duty to foil the plan of the capitalists and build our unity. The struggle to demand our rightful share of the wealth that is produced with our toil is the basis of building the unity.
Com Mathew said that KEC is a broad group of Unions and activists of the working class committed to building this unity based on the principle that “An attack on one is an attack on all”. It has mobilized support from different unions for the ongoing struggle of Voltas Employees, Engine Drivers of Indian Railways, Motormen of Western Railway, Postmen, Resident Doctors, Air India Pilots, Indian Airlines Pilots, against hiving off of Engineering Services of Air India, etc.
He said the working class needs to formulate its own response to the liberalisation and privatisation program. It must put forward an alternative program which protects the interests of the working people. For example it must demand strict enforcement of limits of working day, abolition of contract labour, equal wages for equal work for the woman worker and other benefits to take care of her special needs as a mother, right to strike to be guaranteed, abolishment of all black laws such as MESMA, a comprehensive and universal PDS scheme, moratorium on debt payments, an end to militarization and seizing of all black money, etc. The program has to emerge as the joint effort of the organizations of the working class. While working hard for the success of the two day strike, we should work with a long term perspective.
Com Ramesh Nair, General Secretary, Voltas Employees’ Union said that the government, judiciary and other arms of the state are trying to crush the workers and their struggle. There is a need for unity of the working class and Voltas Employees’ Union fully supports the initiative of the Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) to build the unity of the class. He also pledged the support of his union to all the activities of the KEC in building this unity. He exhorted everyone to make the two day All India general strike a success. Declaring that it is necessary to make the workers the rulers of this country, he stressed that those who have to sell their labour power to the maaliks in order to earn a living, whether, they work in the factories, offices, shops or fields, are all workers. We have to unite them and make them conscious.
Com Franklin De Souza, veteran Trade Union leader and Advisor to Hotel, Tea Plantation, Sugar Cooperative, Mathadi (head load workers), Dairy workers, etc. attacked the government’s policies which have resulted in exclusive growth for a few. He demanded that growth should be inclusive. He cited many instances exposing the anti-worker nature of the governments as well as of many political parties. He said this Azaadi is false and the working class must register its protest by participating in the All India General Strike.
Com B.S.Rath, leader of Western Railway Motormen’s Association, asserted that all those who sell their labour power, mental and physical, are workers. Giving many examples to illustrate the anti-worker nature of the entire parliamentary system, the Constitution and the State apparatus, he asserted that all these have to be changed to ensure that working people get justice.
Com Bharadwaj, National Vice President, All India Loco Running Staff Association, said that the working class needs to unite to make the ruling capitalist class fall flat on its face.
Dr. Sanjeewani, Vice President, Lok Raj Sangathan, congratulated the constituents of the KEC. She explained that we have to work with the perspective of making people – and the working class constitutes the majority of the people - the real rulers of the country. It is necessary to build nonpartisan committees to unite all the people wherever we work and live, as the seeds of the future people’s power.
Com S.Kapure, the leader of Ladaku Garment Mazdoor Sangh, said that we the working people who create all the wealth of the country are given only a miniscule fraction of what we produce. We need to unite to get what rightfully belongs to us.
The meeting ended on a highly positive note, with everyone resolving to work with renewed vigour for the victory of the working class and its alternative program aimed at ensuring prosperity for those who toil.