Friday, September 02, 2016

“Bharat Bandh 2016”

Almost all prominent trade unions have joined this strike call – with the exception of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, allied to the prominent right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).  In fact, 14 prominent trade unions from across the nation have come together to form an umbrella known as the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyaan (MASA), which includes workers across sectors like cotton, automotive, agriculture, and manufacturing. They believe that the current Central Trade Union Organizations (CTUOs) have largely failed the worker by not being strong enough and compromising more than they need to. In the wake of the upcoming strike, the MASA has banded and will certainly join the strike, but will also aim for stronger mobilisation on the agendas of higher minimum wage, abolition of contract labor, and ending arbitrary labour law reforms. Perhaps 150 million trade unionists will participate in this strike.

Gathering against what they call the “anti-worker and anti-people” policies of the Modi government, the demands of those participating have been put forward in a 12-point charter. They include an increase in the minimum wage to $270 per month, an assured enhanced pension of not less than $45 per month and universal social security coverage for all workers. They have also asked for strict enforcement of basic labor laws and no unilateral amendment of the same, as well as a refusal to allow foreign direct investment in strategic sectors like railways and defense.

The strike will include workers from multiple prominent public sector organizations like Coal India Limited, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The broad sector count includes electricity, transportation, mining, telecom, banking (including Reserve Bank of India employees), and insurance – in varying degrees across the states. Domestic workers’ unions are increasingly joining the count, and in some states, autorickshaw drivers have joined the call.

Workers organised resistance against exploitation is a must; and for that matter, their resistance struggles must have to be freed from the infamy of remaining divided and subservient to various capitalist political parties. This they can achieve by organising themselves in fully integrated and independent trade unions of their own.

All workers are able, rather abler than the “leaders” to understand their own class-interests only if they are fully informed of their circumstances from local to global. And to be informed of what is happening around, and what has happened earlier, what they require is to meet in regular general assemblies, discuss and debate all that matters keeping ears and minds open and decide to take such steps as deemed useful. In case a strike is to be declared, they would need a strike committee to be formed of recallable delegates elected and mandated in the general assembly – thus retaining the ultimate control in their own hands.
Where there are many rival trade union shops in a single factory or workplace operated by many capitalist political parties, a socialist worker can neither keep on supporting the one he or she is in, nor go on seeking membership of one after another or all at the same time, nor can he or she open his or her own “socialist” trade union instead. What he or she can, and should, do as immediate perspective, is to try to form a “political group” with like-minded fellow workers and campaign for a class-wide democratic unity as stated above. Whenever an opportunity arrives the group must use the assemblies as a forum for political propaganda to expose the uselessness of the “leaders” and show that the trade union movement is unable to solve the problems of crises, insecurity, poverty, unemployment, hunger, and wars.

If you wish to go further than defensive strikes contact:

The World Socialist Party (India):
257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086,
Tel: 2425-0208,

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