The Communist Ghadar Party of India congratulates the workers of our country for their magnificent response to the call of the Central Trade Unions for a General Strike on September 2, 2015
In the weeks running up to the general strike, activists of the working class organized thousands of street corner and factory gate meetings in which they explained to the mass of workers the aim of the strike. In these actions, communist activists worked to bring together trade union activists belonging to different trade unions under one banner in the different industrial districts, to provide united leadership to the struggle. State level trade union conventions were held in all the state capitals of the country in the weeks preceding the strike. Simultaneously, employees’ organizations in large scale industries and services also organised their conventions and put forth their specific charter of demands as part of the strike.
The bourgeoisie tried to break the strike through various machinations and manipulations, intimidation, back door deals and through disinformation. Just a few days before the strike, the government made an attempt to talk the unions out of the strike by promising to meet some of the demands. The BJP government gave a directive to its affiliated union, the BMS, to not participate in the strike. In West Bengal, the TMC government threatened “to smash the strike at any cost”. The Essential Services Maintenance Act was invoked to prevent transport workers and employees of public sector undertakings from participating in the strike, while the police were called out in large numbers on the eve of the strike. The government media went all out to paint the striking workers as anti-national!
Despite all this the strike was a success. Over 15 crore workers all across the country participated in this General Strike. The strike had its impact in literally every tehsil and taluka of the country because hundreds of other trade unions and workers organizations not affiliated to the Central Trade Unions took up the call as their own and organized for its success. Among these were the Mazdoor Ekta Committee in Delhi, the Indian Federation of Trade Unions - Delhi, Kamgar Ekta Committee in Mumbai-Thane, Workers’ Council in Lucknow, Workers’ Unity Movement in Tamilnadu, and others. The participation of lakhs of non unionized workers in the strike action was the outcome of the unrelenting struggle for minimum wages, registration of all workers, regularisation of all contract workers and so on, over the last few years led by the organised sections of workers.
Many workers and activists belonging to unions that officially boycotted the strike participated actively in the strike. The strike was widespread and covered all sectors because, everywhere, workers are extremely angry. For the same reason, the strike had overwhelming support of all working people in the cities. Through this strike, workers revealed the fire burning in their hearts against the thoroughly unjust exploitative and oppressive capitalist system and the anti-worker, anti-national and anti-social program of the bourgeoisie and the government.
The CGPI congratulates the thousands of trade union activists who, cutting across union and party affiliation, worked indefatigably to make this strike a success.
The striking unions had put forward a12-point charter of demands (see Box). It is possible to fullfll this charter of demands of the trade unions. Any government that fulfills these demands will be acting not only in the interests of the working class, but in the interests of whole of society. These demands are not new. The Trade Unions have been raising them for over twenty-five years, ever since the program of globalisation through privatisation and liberalisation was launched. Why is it that no government has thought fit to fulfill these demands?
The answer to this lies in the fact that the orientation of economy is capital centred and set to fulfill the claims of capital. The biggest monopolies control the principal means of production. These monopoly capitalists control the state and therefore the orientation of the economy, which is aimed at ensuring maximum profits for this minority. The Indian State is the state of the biggest monopoly capitalists and it has been so since independence. The political parties which form the government and opposition at any time, play their respective roles in the interest of the capitalists. They act as the managers of these monopoly capitalists, while at the same time, they keep alive the illusion that this system can serve both the biggest capitalists on the one hand and the working people on the other.
The programme of globalisation through privatisation and liberalisation which was initiated by the Congress government in the early ‘90s set the course of the economy decisively in the direction of fulfilling the claims of the monopolies both Indian and foreign. This programme was implemented by the Congress led UPA government when it was in power. The BJP-led government is spearheading this programme today. It’s “make in India” programme is nothing but selling off the country to the biggest monopolies, both Indian and foreign. So we have witnessed both the parties – the Congress and the BJP committed to the same anti-worker and anti-social programme of the bourgeoisie. When one of them is in opposition, it sheds crocodile tears for the poor and marginalised working population, but when it is in government it carries out the same programme.
At the behest of the monopoly capitalist class, the present BJP government has further intensified its anti-social onslaught by opening up various sectors like defence, insurance and railways to foreign direct investment (FDI). It is ensuring that the slightest hindrance to profit maximisation by the monopolies is removed. It is talking now of privatisating of forests in the name of afforestation and is laying the ground for privatisation of urban water distribution, health care and education. Public hospitals and educational institutions are being systematically wrecked.
Both the BJP and Congres are united on the labour “reforms” that are being implemented. These “reforms” will curb the rights of workers and intensify their exploitation. This attack on labour will make it even more difficult for workers to form their unions, it will further legitimise hiring of workers on contract who can be hired and fired at the will of the capitalists without any social security, it will legalise the increase in the length of the working day, make closure of workplaces and retrenchment easier and remove lakhs of workers from the purview of the Factories Act and Industrial Disputes Act. Doctors, nurses and teachers are under attack as “irresponsible” and “anti-social” when they protest against their deteriorating working conditions and the destruction of public wealth. All this is in the interest of the capitalists, and this is what the BJP means when it declares that its aim is to ensure that “ease of business” is increased.
This is the program of the bourgeoisie in the interests of the claims of the biggest monopolies at the cost of working class rights and social progress – totally contrary to the demands of the workers.
The working class must respond to these attacks with a united stand in defence of workers’ rights and in the interests of the majority in society. Towards this, we must ensure that in the different industrial areas, meetings of trade union activists cutting across all party and union lines are organised on a regular basis. We must build workers’ committees in workplaces and mohallas to discuss the concerns of the workers of that sector or area. We must unite in action against an attack on any section of the working class. The General Strike has set the ground for a new and higher level of activity for all political activists in the working class. What is needed is to build on the level of unity already achieved in the course of the struggle.
Immediate demands of the Striking Workers
- Reducing prices and bringing them under control
- National Floor Level Minimum wage of Rs 15,000
- No to anti-worker changes in labour laws, Strict implementation of existing labour laws
- End contract system, and practice of outsourcing and hiring of daily wage labour,
- Pension for all workers
- Equal wages for same work
- Social Security for agricultural workers and other unorganized sector workers
- Halt and reversal of privatization
- Withdrawal of the Road Transport and Safety Bill
- Regularization of Scheme workers such as Anganwadi and ASHA workers
- No to FDI in Defence, Railways, Financial Sector and Retail Trade
- Withdrawal of the Land Acquisition Bill.