Towards May Day - Call of the Central Committee of Communist Ghadar Party of India, 2nd April, 2017
We are approaching May Day this year in the midst of growing mass protests against the draconian sentence of life imprisonment imposed on 13 Maruti-Suzuki workers, whose only crime is that they stood up for the rights of workers and dared to form a fighting union.
Since 18th March, when the Gurgaon Sessions court pronounced the sentence, mass protests have been growing in size. On 23rd March, the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Shaheed Sukhdev, and Shaheed Rajguru, thousands of workers of the Gurgaon-Manesar-Bawal industrial belt held a rally under the banner of the Trade Union Council, Gurgaon. Workers of all sectors united and resolved to fight until the court decision is reversed and those thrown out of their jobs on trumped up charges are reinstated. Following this, the central federations of trade unions have jointly decided to organise protest actions of the working class all across the country on 5th April.
The attack on Maruti-Suzuki workers is an attack on the entire working class, carried out at the behest of the biggest Indian and foreign capitalist monopolies. It is an attack aimed at spreading fear among all workers, that “This will be your fate if you dare to fight for your rights!”
The response to this attack shows that the working class is determined to fight for its rights and is not cowed down by the threats of the capitalist class. From tens of thousands of workers protesting in Gurgaon to lakhs and crores of workers demonstrating all over the country, the united voice of the working class is growing louder and louder. Workers of all sectors and from all parts of the country are demanding the immediate release of the jailed workers and reinstatement of all Maruti-Suzuki workers.
The struggle of the Indian working class is part and parcel of the international movement against the inhuman capitalist system. The number and scale of protests of the working class and people have visibly increased in recent years, in our country and on the world scale. There is growing opposition to the attacks on workers’ rights in order to fulfill monopoly capitalist greed. There is widespread resistance to trade and investment treaties which subordinate the governments of sovereign states to the dictates of capitalist corporations.
A fierce struggle is raging between two classes with opposing interests. On one side stands the capitalist class, headed by the monopoly houses, who want to terrorise and force workers to submit to more and more intense exploitation, so as to reap maximum profits. On the other side stands the working class. We workers are demanding the rights that belong to us by virtue of being human, and by virtue of being the creators of India’s wealth along with the toiling peasants.
Three years ago, the biggest Indian and foreign monopolies organized the installation of a BJP-led government in New Delhi with an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. The monopoly capitalists have mandated the Modi government to more rapidly implement their anti worker, anti peasant, anti national and anti-social agenda of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation. Under the slogans “Make in India”, “Start-up India” and improving the “ease of doing business”, the Government of India is trampling upon workers’ rights.
The Factories act and the Contract Labour Act are being amended to deprive crores of workers of their basic rights. Young workers are being super exploited by hiring them as apprentices or trainees. The practice of fixed-term contracts is becoming the norm in the garment industry, a method of denying job security and using insecurity to make workers submit to more intense exploitation.
First May Day in India
May Day celebrations in India have been an integral part of the International Working Class Day celebrations that are organised throughout the world every year on May 1.
The first May Day celebration in India was organised in Chennai (formerly Madras) by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan on May 1, 1923. This was also the first time the red flag was flown in India. The party leader Comrade Singaravelu Chettiar made arrangements to celebrate May Day in two places in 1923. One meeting was held at the beach opposite to the Madras High Court; the other meeting was held at the Triplicane beach.
The May Day celebration organized in Chennai reflected the rise of socialist consciousness amongst the working class. The Indian working class had already shown its revolutionary potential in the anti colonial struggle through the great strike movement that followed the arrest of Lokmanya Tilak on sedition charges.
Following the end of the First World War, a massive strike movement swept India in the period 1918-1921. The end of 1918 saw the entire Mumbai cotton mill industry shut down as a result of workers strike for better wages and working and living conditions. Railway workers and textile mill workers throughout India were in the forefront of powerful struggles against the fascist Rowlatt Act. In November 1921, millions of workers participated in a countrywide general strike to protest the visit of the Prince of Wales, with the workers of Mumbai textile mills bringing the city to a grinding halt.
Trade unions were being formed in large numbers in this period. The All India Trade Union Congress was founded as the first center for Indian trade unions on October 31, 1920.
India’s working class was inspired by the heroic deeds of the Ghadar revolutionaries during and after the First World War, and the triumph of the Great October Socialist Revolution in the Soviet Union in 1917.
Singaravelu chettiar was one of the founder members of the Communist Party of India in 1925.
The Triumph of Labour statue on Marina Beach in Chennai marks the country’s first May Day celebrations.
The ruling capitalist class is incapable of ruling without intensifying exploitation and plunder, without spreading death and destruction all round. Successive governments run by rival parties of the capitalist class talk about defending the nation. In fact, they collaborate with the imperialists to exploit our labour, rob our peasant brothers and plunder our natural resources to the maximum possible degree. They brand workers and all those who demand human rights and oppose exploitation, oppression and discrimination as being “anti-national”.
Of all the exploited and oppressed masses of people, the working class is the class which has the strength and capacity to halt and change the course of our society, by dislodging the capitalist class from power. We must wage all our immediate struggles with the perspective and aim of gathering enough strength to replace capitalist rule with workers' and peasants' rule. Political unity of the working class and strengthening of a worker-peasant alliance is the path forward.
Life experience has repeatedly shown that we cannot rely on the courts of the existing State to defend our rights. We cannot rely on the existing parliamentary democracy and its political process either. They are all organs in the service of the capitalist class. We need to build our own organs of united struggle, and strengthen them to become the organs of a new political power in the future.
An important and immediate task facing us is to build and strengthen workers’ unity committees in factories and industrial areas. Such committees have already sprung up in many places. Workers from different factories, leaders of different unions and communists owing allegiance to different parties are all coming together in defence of workers’ rights. Workers’ unity committees and councils are helping to provide collective leadership to the struggle of all workers of entire industrial belts.
The key to build and strengthen workers’ unity committees is the constant struggle in defence of the rights that belong to all wage and salaried workers. We workers have rights both as human beings and as wage workers. These include the right to a dignified human existence, the right to form unions of our choice, right to an 8-hour limit on the working day, right to rest and recreation, health care, pension, and social security. The demand for constitutional guarantees for such rights must be placed at the top of the Charter of Demands of the united working class opposition.
We must wage the struggle in defence of our rights with the perspective of carrying out the Navnirman of India – that is, reconstitution of the State and reorientation of the economic system. The aim of social production must be to fulfill the ever growing needs of the workers and peasants, not to fulfill the insatiable greed of monopoly capitalists as is the case now. With political power in our hands, we workers and peasants must take the principal means of social production out of private hands and place them under social control. We must establish a new State and adopt a new Constitution which guarantees the inviolability of all rights that belong to workers, to peasants, to women, youth and to all human beings.
Come, let us organise to make May Day 2017 an unprecedented show of strength and unity of the Indian working class! Let us organize with the aim of building a new India in which prosperity and protection are guaranteed for all!