REPORT OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL
TO THE XXIV CONFERENCE OF
CONFEDEATION OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES & WORKERS
TO BE HELD AT KOLKATA
ON 3, 4 AND 5 MAY 2013
On behalf of the National Executive of the Confederation it is my proud privilege to submit to the 24th Triennial Conference of the Confederation the Report and audited Statement of Accounts for the period between 2010-2013. It is after a long time we are back in the city of Kolkata to meet in the conference. The 23rd Conference was held at New Delhi in December, 2009. The three years that have passed by had been eventful in many respects. The Conference is an occasion and opportunity to ponder over our short comings, the difficulties we faced and also to rejoice over our successes that have come out of the struggles and endeavours. As is customary and necessary we shall touch upon briefly the international and National developments over the last three year period as our issues are closely interlinked to those happenings. During this intervening period Confederation has no doubt grown in strength in terms of its capacity to intervene in the matters concerning the civil servants. It has also grown as a strong trade union movement capable of organising militant struggles. Despite a fall in the number of employees for there had been a continuous ban on recruitment and creation of posts we could make some slight improvement in our membership. The three year period witnessed united struggles of the Indian Working class against the neo-liberal economic policies and the Central govt. Employees under the banner of Confederation could be integrated in to that historic struggles. Our endeavour in this regard had arisen from the understanding that it is part of our responsibility to fight against the neo-liberal policies and to end all forms of exploitation in the society. We are aware that our organisational strength is not enough to meet the challenges. We are meeting in Kolkata at a very critical juncture as the world capitalist economy has not been able to come out of the global financial crisis of 2008. The crisis has engulfed more and more nations including the West European countries. Even though the Working class had no role in shaping the present economic system in the world they are called upon to bear the brunt of the crisis. It is, therefore, mandatory for us to have a deeper understanding of the socio-political happening in the world to equip ourselves to formulate our approach.
While welcoming you all to this conference we expect to receive your suggestions and interventions during the discussion to enrich this Report.
Before we proceed further let us pay homage to our comrades who laid down their life for the emancipation of the working class. Our profound sympathy goes to those bereaved by the loss of their family members in the series of terror attacks that took place in various parts of the country. Let us also pay our respectful homage to all those innocent people who were killed in the dastardly attacks and those who were victim of the fury of nature. Number of countrymen lost their lives due to the uncontrolled natural calamities. We bow in memory of all of them.
During the period under report we lost the following comrades who contributed immensely to mould the trade union movement in the country and our own organization. We pay our respectful homage to all of them.
Com. M.K. Pandhe:
Com: MK Pandhe, Trade Union Stalwart, former President of CITU and Polit Bureau Member of CPI (M) expired on 21st August 2011. Com Pandhe died after suffering a heart attack in a hospital in New Delhi. He was 86 years old. Comrade Pandhe's nearly seven decades of public life began as an activist of the student movement and he rose to be one of the outstanding leaders of the working class of India. He was the secretary of the Sholapur Students Union in 1943. He joined the Communist Party in 1943. After completing his post-graduation from Pune University he earned his doctorate from the Gokhale Institute of Politics & Economics. As a Secretary of the AITUC working at the Centre in the 1960s,and then becoming one of the key leaders of the CITU, Pandhe made his mark as a skilled and dedicated leader of the working class movement. He was the General Secretary of the CITU from 1990 to 1999 and was its president till 2010. He was associated with all the major working class struggles in the country in the last three decades and played an important role in bringing about the unity of the central trade unions. He was a guiding force for the Confederation of Central Govt employees & Workers. His advises and guidance have immensely helped the Confederation in steering the trade Union activities and building it as a strong, militant, and fighting organisation.
Com Pandhe worked tirelessly till the end. He commanded respect in all trade union circles. He was a leader most accessible to any ordinary worker. He lived a life of utmost simplicity. His death is an irreparable loss for the Trade Union movement. Confederation pays its respectful homage to his memory. The working class movement will always cherish his memory and contributions.
Com. Jyoti Basu:
Com. Jyoti Basu, the tallest among the eminent Statesmen politicians of the country in the post independent era, who strode the Nation's politics as a colossus passed away on 17th January, 2010 at the age of 95. He was the Chief Minister of one of the largest States of the Country, West Bengal continuously for a record 23 years; could have been even longer had he not decided to voluntarily step down in 2000.
It was a sea of humanity that bid farewell to Com. Jyoti Basu at Kolkata. He had endeared himself so much to the common people of West Bengal that all of them felt the pain in his death. He was a man of immense charisma. He lived a full life of struggles and succesess. He had often stated that it was to the credit of the common struggling people of West Bengal that the left front Government came to occupy the seat of power in seven successive elections. He was the greatest political leader India produced after independence.
Com. Jyoti Basu was attracted to the Marxist ideology during his student days in Great Britain. He became an active member of the India league, an organisation of students of Indian origin formed under the leadership of Late V.K. Krishna Menon in 1930s to help India fight against the colonial rulers. During those days he came in close contact with the leaders like Harry Pollit, Rajni Palme Dutt, Ben Bradley of the Communist Party of Great Britain. On his return to India, he joined the Communist Party of India and rose to become its provincial Secretary. He was assigned with the task of organising the working class and thus became the first Secretary of the Bengal Assam Railroad workers Union. It was from the Railway Workers Constituency he was elected for the first time to the provincial assembly in 1946. He was the longest standing member of the legislative assembly continuously being elected since 1946 except in 1972 when the election in West Bengal was rigged. He was twice the Deputy Chief Minister of West Bengal and was the leader of Opposition in 1957 and 1967. After assuming as the Chief Minister of West Bengal in 1977, Com. Jyoti Basu declared that his Government would function from amongst the people and the West Bengal Police would not ever be used to suppress democratic struggles.
It was under his leadership as the Chief Minister, the greatly applauded land reforms in West Bengal took place; the share croppers and tenants and tillers became the land owners, a million acres of land was distributed to the landless; the three tier Panchayat Raj system was introduced; devolution of power to the elected representatives of the Panchayats was ensured even before the Government of India sought to introduce it through constitutional amendments. While various parts of the country witnessed the communal carnage both in 1984 when Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated and in 1992 when the Babri Masjid was demolished, West Bengal under Jyoti Basu remained calm. He provided a stable atmosphere of communal harmony throughout the LDF rule in the State and strengthened the ethos of secularism.
The discriminatory and partisan attitude of the successive Congress Governments at the Centre to the opposition ruled States, especially that of the left governed ones in the matter of sharing taxes, setting up of industrial units, other developmental projects, created a piquant situation. Com. Jyoti Basu pioneered the movement for a review of the Centre State relationship in a federal set up. He could mobilise the entire spectrum of Political opinion to raise the issue to an all India level. He could also galvanize the entire people of West Bengal to establish the Bakreswar Thermal Power Plant at Haldia by eliciting people's contribution in the face of the nugatory attitude of the Government of India.
Com. Jyoti Basu was one of the nine Polit Bureau members of the CPI (M) when the party was formed in 1964 parting away on ideological differences with the CPI. He devoted his whole life for the betterment of the common and working people, in upholding the rights of the working class. He stood with the working class in all their struggles. It is only the Government employees of West Bengal, who enjoys the right to strike amongst the Civil Servants of the country and the only State in the country which has made an enactment to regulate the service conditions of the Government employees as envisaged under Article 309 of the Constitution.
Com. Jyoti Basu was the most efficient leader of the working class, the most disciplined communist and the best administrator, the country had in recent times He was revered, liked and loved by both friends and foes alike.
We pay our respectful homage to this great comrade, who became a legend in his life time.
Com. G.S. Gnanam
G.S. Gnanam, former Secretary General of Confederation passed away on 2nd August, 2011 in a private nursing home at Chennai, where he had been undergoing treatment for heart ailment. He was 80 when he expired. Com. Gnanam was one of the architects of the Tax employees' movement. Committed to a progressive left ideology, he contributed immensely in the building up of ITEF and Confederation.
Com. Gnanam was a born leader. During early fifties, when the office atmosphere was stifling Com. Gnanam decided first to form the Income tax Recreation club. He became its founder General Secretary. That was a prologue to the building up of a strong trade union movement of tax employees in the city of Chennai, which was called Madras then. Being an active worker in the then Madras Income tax Employees Association, he was elected as its Auditor in 1956. He served MITA in various capacities before being elected as its General Secretary in 1958 and 1961. The Income Tax Employees Federation which came into existence in 1953 under the inspiring leadership of Com.D.S.Rajarathnam and others took note of the activities of this young comrade and in recognition of his abilities got him elected as its Joint Secretary. He naturally succeeded Com D.S. Rajarathnam in 1963. Assiduously he strived to make ITEF a strong institution both financially and organisationally.
Com. Gnanam was a versatile personality capable of planning meticulously and implementing the decisions with extreme finesse. He saw to it that the decision taken at the all India Conference of ITEF to have its own building at Delhi a reality during his tenure and Manishinath Bhawan at A-2/95 Rajouri Garden, New Delhi stands as a living testimony of the organizational ability and acumen of this great comrade.
Prakash Gupta known as OP for many Central Govt. employees breathed his last in
January, 2013. He was the legendary leader of P&T workers. In about 65
years of his trade union life he made a great impact in the P&T employees
movement as also of the Central govt. Employees. In the formative days of
Confederation he made great contribution in nurturing it. He was a man of
strong opinion and unconventional in his approach to finding resolution to
problems. He had very intimate friends in the movement and sharp critics too.
On many occasions especially during negotiations he had been taking extremely
pragmatic approach as he was fully knowledgeable about the pulse of the
members. He had many innovations to his credit and he has been hailed by his
followers for his novel ideas like the time bound promotions. He had a special
oratory style and was capable of quoting authentically from the ancient
mythological texts and from the modern philosophy of Marxism with the same
ease. He had been an affable person throughout his life. He maintained personal
relationship even with those who have differed with him politically and
ideologically. Upper most in his mind always had been the well- being of the
employees and members whom he represented. Born in a very big family with 2
sisters and 5 brothers on 8.4.1922 he had his primary education at Karnal and
went for higher studies to Multan and Lahore. He was initially employed in the
Army HQ. and was dismissed on the suspicion of his links with the independence
movement. He married com. Janak, a
telecom employee who became a leader of the telecom employees on her own
stride. Throughout his life he was associated with the Telecom employees
movement. With his passing away the Central Govt. employees and the Telecom
workers lost a great crusader. We pay our respectful homage to his memory.
Hugo Chavez, President, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, passed away on 5th March 2013 after two year battle with cancer. Hugo Chavez was the face of anti-imperialism. A staunch critic of the neo-liberal economic policies and US, he showed to the world that an alternative economic policy is available and possible. He survived all attempts to overthrow him undemocratically with the support of the people at large and the poor of Venezuela in particular. In his untimely death, the progressive forces all over the world lost a beacon of light in their fight against imperialism and imperialist-led globalisation. We dip our flag in his memory.
The working class movement also lost some of the most dynamic leaders in the death of Com Dipankar Mukherjee, Secretary, CITU and Com WR Varadarajan, former Secretary of CITU since the last Conference. We dip our flag in the memory of these comrades who spent their lives for the cause of the down trodden.
The nation lost some its illustrious sons and daughters like Dr Capt Lakshmi Sehgal, the last of Indian National Army under Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Shri IK Gujral, former Prime Minister, Dr KN Raj Economist, Dr PK Ayyankar, Scientist, Actors Dev Anand and Rajesh Khanna, Mani Kaul (Film Director), Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Ravishankar and MF Hussain. Great vocalist Shri Bhupen Hazarika also bid adieu to us during this period. Shri Binod Bihari Choudhury, the last surviving member of Chittagong armoury raid of 1930 breathed last at the age of 103. Shri S Bangarappa, K Karunakaran , MOH Farook, former Chief Ministers of Karnataka, Kerala and Puducheri respectively, Mahendra Singh Tikaiet, the leader of Kisan Union, Tamil Novelist Kamala sadagopan, Arjun Kumar Sen Gupta (Noted Economist), RS Sharma (Historian) Justice Ranganatha Mishra (former CJI), Milan Banerjee (Former Attorney General) V Kurien (Milkman of India), Vilas Rao Deshmukh, former Chief Minister of Maharastra and former Union Minister, NKP Salve (Union Ministers), Hargovind Khorana, Nobel laureate, Neil Armstrong, Shammi Kapoor Dara Singh, Sunil Gangopadhyaya, Bal Thackeray, KS Sudarsan (former Chief of RSS) also left us during period under reporting. We deeply mourn their passing away and convey our heartfelt condolences
When we met at New Delhi in December 2009, the world was still reeling under the global financial crisis of 2008. After five years of the outbreak of the financial crisis, the predictions that the global economic crisis is going to be severe, intense and long lasting are proved correct. The situation has not changed much even in 2013, rather it is spread far and wide today. Nation after nation in Europe is struggling to come to terms with the crisis in the economic front, causing widespread popular uprising in many a country.
The crisis spread to almost all European and Asian capitalist countries. It also impacted very adversely the economies of developing countries. Most of these governments had to contribute immensely from their national exchequer for the bail out of the transnational corporations. The remedial measures in simple term were transferring the savings of the poor people for the profligacy of corporate houses. It was said to be the sure and certain way of tiding over the crisis to have happy days to emerge soon. However, it did not happen and the crisis continued despite the huge bail out packages made out by the government of almost all countries. During this period almost all the advanced capitalist countries witnessed either sluggish or negative growth and increase in the number of unemployed. The rate of growth of unemployment in Euro Zone countries was 9.9% in mid 2011 and the corresponding figure for America was 9.2%. America witnessed one of the worst debt crisis during this period. The Republicans who have the majority in the Senate demanded that the President must order for a huge cut on welfare expenses. President Barack Obama had to succumb to this pressure which resulted in a cut in the public spending of the order of 1.5 trillion dollars. That deepened the crisis. The Republicans did not permit taxing the rich as a means to reduce the huge fiscal and revenue deficit in the American budget. All these and many other economic problems resulted in the down grading of the credit rating of the United States for the first time, perhaps in the history of credit rating exercise itself.
Most of the European countries are today deep in sovereign debt crisis driving them to impose huge cut on social security spending and public welfare expenses. Italy, France, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain are some of the Euro Zone countries that are facing serious financial and political turmoil. It is mostly because of the bail-out packages provided to the private banking industry that was responsible for the crisis and therefore the people at large are extremely angry over these developments. The working class opposition against the austerity measures took the shape of rebellion in many of these countries. Sovereign debt crisis, bankruptcy of banking and financial institutions, rising price of food articles, increase in the price of crude oil and petroleum products, migration of capital to developing countries, all went to accentuate the crisis. Greece faces the worst situation due to the crisis. Unemployment in that country has gone over 16% and the increase in unemployment in 2011 over 2010 was 40%. Despite the stringent opposition from the trade unions and the left parties of Greece the parliament had to give their seal of approval to the IMF suggested austerity measures.. The crisis in Greece and the revolt by people at large has compelled the Prime Minister Mr. George Papandreou to resign. Mr. Lucas Papademos, a former Vice President of the European Central Bank has taken over as the Prime Minister of the new Greek interim government on 11th November, 2011.
This crisis has a natural adverse impact on the employment scenario. Currently some 35% of all young unemployed have been out of job for six months or longer in advanced economies, up from 28.5 per cent in 2007. As a consequence, an increasing number of young people have become discouraged and have left the labour market. Among European countries where this problem is particularly severe, some 12.7 per cent of all young people are currently neither employed nor in education or training, a rate that is almost two percentage points higher than prior to the crisis.
Labour force participation has fallen dramatically, in particular in advanced economies, masking the true extent of the jobs crisis. The problem is particularly severe in the developed economies and the EU region where the labour force participation rate declined by close to one percentage point and is expected to recede further as long-term unemployment and a weak economic outlook discourages people from staying in the labour market. As a consequence, the employment- to-population ratio has fallen sharply – in some cases 4 percentage points or more – and has not yet recovered even in cases where the unemployment rate has started to decline.As it happened in Greece, Italy also had a new Prime Minister on November 16, 2011. The 68 year old Mr. Mario Monti, former European Commissioner has taken over as the new Prime Minister, considered to be the most suitable person to succeed Mr. Silvio Berlusconi, who had to resign due to the crisis. In France, the Government's decision to increase the retirement age triggered of fierce protests. The Government raised the sales tax from. 5.5 per cent to 7 per cent on non essential products, cut tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations, and reduced regional and local government budgets
One of the notable events that shook especially the oil rich Middle East was the debt crisis of Dubai World, an investment company which had to declare a virtual moratorium on its debt payments. But for the bail-out loan of 10 billion dollars from Abu Dabi, the company would have gone bankrupt. The company retrenched about 10000 workers to tide over the crisis.
Mr. David Cameroon's government in United Kingdom had to witness the biggest strike action of British workers involving about 20 lakhs workers against the pension fund manipulation indulged in by his government. The conservative led coalition government introduced the biggest cuts in State spending since the II world war. 490,000 public sector jobs have been declared redundant and are awaiting its abolition. There had been strong response from the workers and people in as much as 25000 people demonstrated in London in March, 2011.
Similarly, the corporate greed for profit, the support extended to the Trans National Corporation (TNC) by the successive government of USA; the decision to effect the social spending cut, the growing inequality in income in the society, unemployment, marginalization of large number of American people and the consequent discontent it generated contributed heavily to the public fury, manifested in the continuing agitation named the occupation of Wall Street in America. The Obama government tried its best to quell the agitation but miserably failed. It gathered momentum and spread to many US cities.It is reported to have spread to 82 countries covering about 950 cities.
Public debt was identified as the culprit by the IMF for the crisis in Eurozone countries. In order to cut down the public debt, the IMF prescribed cuts in Governmental spending. In other words to abandon all social security and welfare measure. The fallacy of the said theory has now been acknowledged by the IMF itself. It has now advised the U.K. to change course on austerity. Its Chief Economist, Oliver Blanchard warned the U.K.Chanellor, George Osborne, that he was "playing with fire". The IMF's change of mind came about late 2012 when it acknowledged that its own estimates of a crucial variable, fiscal multiplier had been incorrect . Commenting on this volte face of the IMF, T.T. Ram Mohan wrote in the Hindu:
"Before the East Asian crisis and for several years thereafter, the IMF was a strong votary of free flows of capital. During the East Asian Crisis, many economists had pointed out that the case for free flows of capital position lacked a strong economic foundation, unlike the case for free trade. This did not prevent the IMF from peddling its prescription to the developing world."
The IMF's realisation was a little late in the day for the East Asian economies and others whose banking systems had been disrupted by volatile capital flows.
The major developing countries have sustained a relatively higher growth rate during the past four years compared to the developed capitalist economies.. These 'emerging economies' were invited into the G20 after the G8 proved unequal to the task. With the continuance of the economic crisis these countries are also witnessing a slowdown in the pace of economic growth due to reduced exports, decline of primary commodity prices and reversal of capital inflows. The relative strength of the 'emerging economies' particularly that of the BRICS countries indicates shifts in the balance of economic power. The growing strength of the 'emerging economies' will intensify the contradiction between the developed and developing Nations in the years to come.
The global financial crisis which had impacted not only the advanced capitalist countries but also most of the developing countries created political turmoil in almost all these nations. The three year period which this report seeks to cover had been beset with important political developments in the world. All these developments (some of them even effecting change of regime) had impacted the working class movements. There had been great many initiatives taken by the trade unions in the world as also NGOs to fight against the neo liberal economic policies which have been imposed by the IMF in most of the countries. In some countries, these policies were willingly put into operation by the ruling class. In others, it had been due to sheer compulsion brought about on them by threat of sanctions, etc. This is not to say that all political changes had been the result of the crisis. The imperialist hegemony of the USA and the former European colonizers has contributed quite significantly to many political developments. The USA's desire to dominate, especially after the breaking up of the Soviet Union has been the motivating force in very many decisions taken by it in world affairs. We shall briefly touch upon these developments in this report to enable our comrade delegates to understand its impact.
Globalization has come to mean free and unfettered right of movement of capital, especially the finance capital. The IMF, World Bank and the WTO imposed economic reforms on the borrowing countries in the name of structural adjustments. The national media is engineered to laud the scheme of mobility of capital despite its disastrous impact on the indigenous industrial growth. Most of the third world countries have now realized through sheer experience that the promised prosperity that is supposed to have been brought about through globalization had been nothing but a "polemical untruth".
Globalization had been impervious to human development concerns and insensitive to human rights. This had been eventually the root cause for resistance from the people . The withdrawal of subsidies, the retreat of state from social services activities established in the field of health and education, decontrol of prices of essential commodities, closure of public distribution system which were the most important ingredients of the mechanism so vital for the poor to survive had accentuated the struggle and resistance movements. In the scheme of things globalization of market became more important than human beings; the corporate profit became synonym for development and thus leading to the governance providing contrary impact on universal happiness of people. Globalization had been a concept evolved for the purpose of informer colonization. It is this realization that had been responsible for very many political upheavals in the world.
With the crisis in Europe showing no signs of abatement, the anti-capitalist protests are bound to intensify in the coming days. The social democratic governments got discredited for adopting the neo-liberal austerity measures. While these mass protest actions are going on, utilizing the effects of the crisis, growing joblessness and cuts in social benefits, the rightwing forces are seeking to exploit the discontent among the people by targeting immigrant workers, arousing racial feelings and Islamophobia. The danger of rightwing authoritarian forces has been growing. The current protests and struggles are taking place in the absence of an effective political alternative force. It is this absence which enables the ruling classes to carry on with minor adjustments and shifting the burdens on to the people. The emergence of a strong Left alternative alone can assure any substantive changes.
World Political developments.
Election in France
Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy became the eleventh European Leader to be ejected since the global economic crisis. At his triumphal victory in 2007, he had promised to transform France to its core. He had vowed to be the President who restored the values of work and reward but left the Presidency with one million more unemployed people and millions who struggled to make both ends meet. The pre- election polls had shown that 64 per cent of the French people were unhappy with Sarkozy. It is after 17 years that a Socialist, Fracois Hollande enters Elysee Palace, as the President of France. He has taken over as President in May, 2012 in a country that is presently crippled with public debt, high unemployment, stuttering growth, decimated industry, low competitiveness, high public spending and the impending doom of the euro-zone sovereign debt crisis.
President Barack Obama firmly believed that the US action in Afghanistan was to counter the terrorism and that the war on Iraq was misplaced. On this understanding, he sent in 20,000 more American troops to Afghanistan immediately after assuming office. This was to add to the 63,000 strong US troops already in Afghanistan. The American ambition of strengthening the Afghan armed forces and provide an effective government under Hamid Karzai has not become successful yet.. The presidential election that was held in August, 2009 was perceived to be a product of wide spread fraud. The US which now runs a surrogate government in Afghanistan continued with its domination and intervention in its affairs. Despite the reluctance expressed by its allies the USA and Nato increased their troop deployment in Afghanistan but this could not subjugate Thaliban which has gained much more ground level support of Afghanistan people. The US tried its level best to get a section of Taliban to join the Hamid Karzai government but without success so far.
In order to keep up his poll promise Barack Obama had to take the decision to withdraw the troops from Iraq. America having attained its objective of taking over the oil fields in Iraq it has left that country with unabating civil disturbances. Iraq is in shambles in as much as no government which has the backing of people could be brought about even after election. The people of Iraq do believe that the present government in Iraq is a puppet regime propelled by the military might of United States of America.
In 1956 Tunisia became a free country from the colonial power, France. Habeeb Bourgiva became the President. He declared himself as the President for life. The most under developed Muslim country Tunisia was made into a modern nation with pro western life style by the President. It was from him the Zine-el-Abidne Ben Ali took over as the President in 1987. Ben Ali was liked by most of the western countries. He made tourism as one of the major revenue source of Tunisia. Over the years he became a dictator. 23 years of iron fisted rule of Ben Ali came to an end through a people's revolt which triggered similar movements in many other Arabian countries. The immediate spark for the rebellion was provided by the suicide committed by a young man, who by the sheer agony of unemployment, despite being well educated, decided to sell vegetables in the streets. Since he did not have a license to sell vegetables his goods were confiscated, which led to his suicide. The youth, the students and the common people who had suffered immensely at the hands of the policies of the President Ben Ali revolted. The President tried in vain to hold on in power but had to ultimately quit seeking asylum in Saudi Arabia. The large majority of the Tunisian people suffered under the regime as the economic policies were meant to create a microscopic minority as the rich and the powerful. The Tunisian upsurgence had its impact on many other Arabian countries.
The Tunisian rebellion had its salutary impact on Egyptian people. The condition and living standards of poor people of Egypt was no different to Tunisia. The Mubarak regime had been as tyrannical as that of Ben Ali. From January 25, 2011 the people assembled at Tahrir Square, Cairo. The agitation continued un-abated for 17 days. The police repressions led to 300 deaths. All appeals made by President Mubarak could not calm down the people and ultimately he had to resign. What is to be noted in this episode is the attitude of USA towards the Egyptian agitators. While Obama's administration had no hesitation in extending its support to Tunisians they took an entirely different attitude towards the Egyptian revolt. This was because of the fact that Egypt had been an ally of USA ever since Anwar Sadat signed peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Despite the drastic support extended by USA, Mubarak had to ultimately resign. One of the notable features of the revolt in Tunisia and in Egypt is that in both the cases the Islamic fundamentalist forces were not the initiators even though they became part of the popular movements later. It was mostly led by the educated youth, the middle class in the society and trade union workers.
The Muslim brother hood has consolidated its position in Egypt. The drafting of the Constitution was done without the participation of the secular and liberal forces. The approval of the Constitution through a referendum has triggered of agitation and street demonstrations.
The Egyptian agitation created ripples in other Arab nations. People in various Arab countries have started believing that popular movements are capable of dethroning the despotic regimes.
One another country in the Middle East which had to face the impact of the revolt in Tunisia was Bahrain. The Shia community, a sub section of Muslims in Bahrain is at the receiving end of despotic regime of Khalifa family. The Shia community which forms a sizable number of population in Baharin started a peaceful agitation against the oppressive rule of Khalifa family. At the instance of Saudi Arabia the USA had taken sides with the ruling class and has intervened in favour of the rulers.
Yemen is yet another country which followed the people's revolt of Tunisia. It was also against the oppressive rule of Ali Abdulla Sale. In Yemen both Saudi Arabia and USA helped the agitators against Ali Abdulla. The USA intervened in support of the agitators on the belief that Ali Abdulla Sale was a supporter of Al-quida. Ali Abdulla has now announced that he is not the candidate for the Presidential elections.
The Sad-Ali-Harrari Government of Lebanon had to resign when the Hizbulla members withdrew from the Ministry. This was considered an act to preempt to the UN indiction of Hizbolla leaders in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The formation of Najib Mikati government in Lebanon is not of liking to the US.
Col. Gadaffi came to power in Libya in 1961 through a military coup against the king. Gaddaffi's government took very many progressive actions to ameliorate the living conditions of the poor people in Libya. Col. Gadaffi nationalized the oil industry and supported all nationalist movements in Africa. He was a staunch opponent of USA and western imperialism and was thus liked by the Libyan people. However, over the years, he became an autocrat and his regime became authoritarian in every respect. He began to rule Libya with a coterie of his friends and relatives. The Libyan people resented this change of attitude of Gadaffi. After 2001 terrorist attack in the US, Gadaffi began to be friendly with the United States of America. The USA taking full advantage of the popular discontentment against Gaddaffi helped the group of people who were up in arms against Gaddaffi regime. The USA and Great Britain deployed the NATO forces to Libya to directly support rebellious insurgence of Libyan people. Gadaffi was killed and a Transitional National Council (TNC) took over the governance of the country. The TNC is fully under the command of NATO and the oil rich country of Libya has almost became an informal colony of USA.
Sudan is the largest country in Africa. Both Christians and Muslims share the country's population. It was under a civil war. Ultimately, a referendum was decided to be held. Southern Sudan is inhabited by Christians. Most of the oil wells in Sudan are situated in southern parts. USA was supporting the partition of Sudan and the creation of Southern Sudan.
The developments in Egypt had its impact in Syria. There had been wide spread protest against Baathist party regime of President Assad. The President has been compelled to announce certain political reforms including a multi party system. Both France and USA are supporting the opposition parties. Syrian administration has been close to Iran and had been supporting the Palestinian cause which has been irking the USA and France. Syria has got a strong Christian minority and the majority are Sunni Muslim.
Despite all efforts of the NATO, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, the rebels fighting within Syria have not been able to make any major advance in the last three months except for some places in the north. On the US initiative, all rebel groups were brought together in Doha in November. They were told to set up a unified front if they wanted Western support. A National Council of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition forces was set up in place of the Syrian National Council. The fighting has led to 60,000 dead by end December and there are half a million refugees in the neighbouring countries.
The UN Special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has been trying to get the United States and Russia to come to some common understanding but it has failed. Despite the Islamic fighters being sent in from Libya, Tunisia and other countries and the weaponry provided through Qatar and Turkey, hopes of overthrowing the Assad regime militarily have not materialized. President Obama has recognized the new Syrian opposition body as the sole representative of the Syrian people. The Islamist forces have openly proclaimed that their goal is to set up an Islamic emirate in the region.
In Russia, popular discontent has been rising against the ruling regime and the rapacity of the capitalist order which fattens on the plunder of the oil and gas resources of the country. In the parliament elections in December 2011 and in the Presidential election in March 2012, unfair means were adopted to prop up the ruling party, United Russia. There have been big protests against these undemocratic methods. Despite these malpractices, the Russian Communist Party got 19 per cent of the vote and 92 seats in parliament, emerging as the main opposition party, thus indicating its growing popularity.
Developments in Latin American Countries
Latin American countries had been for centuries under the domain of the USA. USA had treated many of these countries as their backyard colonies. Whenever there had been a popular resistance against the right wing governments the intervention of USA had been in favour of the government. The scenario underwent a change in the last decade. One by one, Latin American Countries asserted themselves and most of the elected governments stood for socialist ideals and against the colonial attitude of USA.
In Bolivia, a left wing government came to power through elections. Evo Morales, the Presidential candidate got 62% of the popular votes. In the last election in Uruguay, the Frente Ampilo, a left wing coalition emerged as the winner. However, Chile elected a right wing candidate Sebastian Perera as President. In Venezuela, HUGO Chavez won his fourth straight electoral victory in the Presidential elections in Octrober, 2012. He polled more than 54% votes against a stiff and combined opposition challenge. The voter turn out at 81 per cent was the highest in Venezuelan history. Hugo Chavez contested the election under the banner of United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) formed after the 2006 election. Most of the left wing parties supporting Chavez hadmerged into the PSUV. In the two years preceding the election, the US Embassy in Caracas has been propping up a credible challenger to Chavez. Secret Cables have showed opposition politician lining up at the US Embassy seeking help and funding. Chavez ultimately succumbed to his illness in 2013 inflicting a sense of loss and deprivation not only amongst the Venezuelan people but all in the world who cherish Socialism. His successor, Nicolas Maduro won the recent election but with a narrow margin. Brazil, the biggest Latin American Country elected the workers party candidate Lula Da Silva some time back. Lula Da Silva brought the country as one of the growing economies of the world. Under his regime Brazilian workers were benefited quite immensely. Because of constitutional amendments Lula Da Silva had to step down and his nominee, the workers party candidate Dileni Rouseff won the Presidential election. Peru, another important Latin American Country elected Ollata Humala, a left wing leader in the last election. Ecuador witnessed a coup attempt by police officers recently. The coup had the support of imperialist forces and was aimed to defeat the socialist policies but it could not succeed and Correa has bounced back.
The Latin American Countries have realized the necessity of coming together for economic co-operation. At the initiative of Cuba, a summit was convened in Havana city under the name of Latin American and Caribbean integration called ALBA. The summit decided to have a common currency for all Latin American and Caribbean countries called SUCRE in the pattern of Euro. The principal countries who participated in the summit were Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, St. Vincent, Grenadines, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda. The formation of the CELAC, the Community of 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations in December 2011 in the Venezuelan capital is a significant development. While all the Latin American countries have joined together. The US and Canada have been kept out of this regional grouping. This marks a clear break from US hegemony in the region.
The advance of the Left forces in Latin America and the policies adopted by the Left-oriented governments have challenged the neo-liberal agenda and the traditional US imperialist influence in the region. Venezuela and Bolivia have been in the forefront in implementing policies which have reversed privatization, established state control over oil and gas resources, implemented extensive land reforms, promoted collective enterprises and ushered in democratization of the political system. Along with the governments in Ecuador and Nicaragua, they have focused on improving health care and education, and redistribution of wealth to reduce income inequalities.
The existence of Left governments is a result of the prolonged struggles of the working people and the popular movements against neo-liberalism and privatization. The series of electoral victories and election or reelection of Presidents in Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, Peru and El Salvador are an affirmation of the political trend in Latin America which is posing an alternative to neo-liberal globalization.
In a smooth transition, at the 18th Party Congress of the Communist Party of India, at the great hall of people in Beijing on 14th November, 2012, Com. Xi Jinping took charge as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. The18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China opened on November, 8 in Beijing with 2300 delegates including representatives from provincial people congress and retired party leaders. The Party congress elected the New Central Committee with 205 full members and 171 alternates. The Central Committee chose the Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee. The Politburo and the Politburo Standing Committee is entrusted with the task of leading the world's second largest economy in the next decade. Com. Xi Jinping will head the seven member Communist Party of China Poilitburo Standing Committee. The newly elected General Secretary had in an earlier speech emphasized that "öur people yearn for better education, more stable, jobs, more income, greater social security, better medical and health care, improved housing conditions, and a a better environment. The people's desire for a better life is what we shall fight for". He also spoke of the severe challenges highlighting the problems of corruption, taking bribes being out of touch with the people and an undue emphasis on goring through formalities and bureaucratism Among the problems highlighted in the work report of the Congress were unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development; weak capacity for scientific and technological innovation; serious resource and environmental constraints, a marked increase in social problems, widening gaps between urban and rural areas and disparities in incomes, and problems affecting people's interest in social security, health care, housing and the environment. Stressing the danger of corruption, he said it would even cause the collapse of the party and fall of the state.
Israel launched a full-scale aerial bombardment and artillery attacks on the Gaza strip in mid-November. The bombardment continued for eight days in which 140 Palestinians including 44 children lost their lives. Many government and residential buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged. The rightwing government of Netanyahu provoked the fighting by assassinating Hamas military Chief Ahmad Jaabari. Rockets were fired into Israel and for the first time some of them reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The intense bombing of Gaza could not suppress the resistance put up by the Palestinian forces. A ceasefire was arranged by the United States and Egypt's President Morsi. The Hamas is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel could not gain anything from this latest aggression. This action took place in the beginning of the forthcoming parliament election in Israel in January and it was seen as an effort by Netanyahu to refurbish his image. The Gaza people were not cowed by this attack and there were celebrations when the ceasefire was announced.
Soon after the Gaza attack the UN General Assembly voted on a resolution to recognize Palestine as a non-member State. This resolution was moved despite stiff opposition from the United States. There was overwhelming support for the recognition of Palestine as a state. 133 out of 193 members of the General Assembly voted in favour, 19 against with 41 abstentions. The United States and Israel voted against the motion. Many of the European countries voted in support of the resolution while Germany and Britain abstained. The new status for Palestine will give it access to all UN bodies and will also entitle it to UN assistance in various fields. In retaliation, the Israeli government has announced building of apartments in the occupied territory of East Jerusalem.
On the question of development of nuclear energy, United States of America had been exerting pressure on world Nations to introduce economic blockades and sanctions against Iran. Like the invisible WMD in Iraq, which provided the weapon for US to destroy that country, the baseless allegations have been made against Iran on storage of Nuclear weapons. Iran which depends upon its oil reserve for the economic prosperity of its people has been incapacitated to market it in the international arena. At the insistence of US, India had to back out of the Gas pipe line venture earlier. The Oil import from Iran has to be drastically reduced for commercial payment has been blocked by America. Israel at the behest of USA has threatened to attack the atomic plants of Iran. The resolution adopted at the Non aligned countries held in Iraq was however a jolt for the intrusion designs of USA.
The neighbouring countries.
The assassination of the Punjab Governor Salan Taseer who opposed the blasphemy law by fundamentalist forces created a turmoil in PPP. The killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA convert operators strained the US Pak relationship. The Pak stand on Taliban has also angered USA. The killing of Osama Bin Laden by US troops in Pak territory without even the knowledge of the Pakistan Government has virtually threatened Pakistan's sovereignty. . There has been a deterioration in the living conditions of the people who have been suffering from price rise and growing unemployment. The present Government of Pakistan holds the records of being the first Government who could complete its full term and go in for another democratic election. The Pakistan society is gripped with the influence of fundamentalist forces. It can establish a democratic system responsive to the people's aspirations only when it could rid the influence of the fundamentalist-extremist forces and when its subordinate relationship to the US is dispensed with.
After a prolonged period of stalemate which lasted for two years, since the resignation of Maoist leader Prachanda from the Prime Ministership, there has been an agreement to break the deadlock. After the assumption of office of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai the three major parties arrived at an agreement on integration of sections of the Maoist combatants into the armed forces and the rehabilitation of others. This opened the way for the completion of the framing of the new Constitution but this requires the cooperation of all the three major parties. It is essential that the peace process be completed so that Nepal can have a republican and democratic system which is in tune with the people's aspirations.
Sri Lanka :
Mahindra Rajpakse won a landslide victory in the Presidential election in Sri Lanka on the popular wave of victory over LTTE. However, despite promises made out on several occasions, the political settlement of Tamil speaking population is yet to come about in Sri Lanka. There must be a credible investigation into the atrocities committed in the last phase of the war and those responsible should be held accountable. The Sri Lankan government has also to expedite the political discussions and adopt specific measures for the devolution of powers and provision of autonomy for the Tamil-speaking areas of the North and Eastern regions. It is in this manner that the Tamil people can be assured of their rights within a united Sri Lanka.
The NLD, the popular political party in Myanmar was proscribed in the last election. The army supported parties alone could contest the election and have reported to have secured 80% seats.. With the assumption of office of the President by Thein Sein, some steps were taken to relax the military autocratic rule and restore certain democratic rights and release of political prisoners. This was responded to by Aung San Suu Kyi. She and her party, the National League for Democracy, won 43 out of the 44 seats they contested in the by-elections. The thaw in the relations between the democratic opposition and the government after decades of authoritarian rule is a positive step. India, which has good relations with the Myanmar government, should help promote further measures which can usher in a democratic system.
Fakushima Nuclear disaster in Japan:
It was the biggest nuclear disaster, triggered by the natural calamity, Tsunami. As per the report, water, food, milk, meat and vegetable all are contaminated. Immediately thereafter, Germany announced the dismantling of their nuclear plants within a time schedule. However, the Govt. of India has decided to go ahead with the nuclear agreement it has reached with USA and set up a plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra despite the continuing protest of the local population. Kudamkulam in Tamil Nadu which is awaiting commissioning has also witnessed local agitations against the Plant.
Ecological problems have become so acute all over the world and all right thinking persons have to join the efforts to save the earth from perishing. Developmental activities unmindful of maintaining the ecological balance as well as attacks on various resources of the mother earth motivated solely by profit mongering are questioning even the existence of living organisms.. In the city of Qatar in Doha an international conference of nations was held for 13 days from November 26 to December 7 to discuss on the gruesome climate changes taking place all over the globe and to find out some solution to the burning problem. The meeting found that as a result of devastations perpetrated on the ecological balance of the earth, the atmospheric temperature may rise drastically. If it rises above 2oC the sea level is apprehended to rise by four meters causing havocs like floods, whirlwinds, storms, etc all over the world and submerging several islands and coastal regions including the cities of New York and Mumbai. The meeting also found that rise in atmospheric temperature is aided by the "developmental activities" pursued by developed nations like USA. However, as a result of the obdurate stand taken by USA, no agreement could be reached in the conference in applying a break on such activities
According to the declaration adopted in the world summit on food security held at Rome on 16-18 Nov 2009, the number of people suffering from hunger and poverty now exceeds 1 billion. This is about one-sixth of the world's population. The effects of longstanding under-investment in food security agriculture , and rural development have recently been further compounded by food, financial and economic crises, among other factors. The overall efforts in this direction so far have fallen short of achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the commitments of the World Food Summits.
NATIONAL ECONOMIC SITUATION
When we met in the last Conference in New Delhi the UPA II Govt. had been voted back to power by the Indian electorate The media in the country propagated that the people have punished the left for taking consistent stand against the neoliberal economic policies and its opposition to the nuclear deal. Having relieved of the dependence on the left the UPA Govt. decided to accentuate the reform agenda. Various policy decisions were taken during this period by the Govt. which resulted in the heaping of burden on the common man. Unprecedented inflation and price rise occurred during this period making the wage earners desperate. The three General strikes that took place during this period elicited the largest number of workers' participation. During this period we also saw the active participation of the BMS and INTUC in the struggles of the workers against these policies. In subsequent paragraphs we will deal with some of the aspects of national economy which adversely impacted the working conditions of the working people.
The annual Budget normally presented in the month of February is considered to be the the policy statement of the Govt. While it gives an account of the resources and utilisation thereof it also gives an insight into the performance, priorities, and direction of the political party in power.
The 2010-11 Budget was presented by Shri Pranab Kumar Mukherjee. Shri Pranab Mukherjee being an old stalwart of Indian National Congress though not an adherent to the socialist ideals had worked in various capacities in the Govt. under the leadership of Mrs. India Gandhi. The budget, he presented in 2010 was to accentuate the pursuance of the neo-liberal economic policies which his Prime Minister wanted. In the budget the Finance Minister had given concessions to the extent of Rs.26, 000 crores in direct taxes and garnered a sum of Rs.46, 500 crores in indirect taxation. While making such huge increase in the indirect taxation which the common man is to bear he made the specious plea that the global recession had turned the corner and the Indian economy was to grow at 8%. According to him to sustain the growth of economy at such level the poor is to be taxed and rich spared. Even though the direct taxes component has decreased there had been no concession to the wage earners who can neither evade nor avoid paying taxes in as much as there had been no increase in the non-taxable maximum of individual tax payers despite the high rate of inflation registered in the economy. The taxpayers in the income bracket of 3 & 8 lakhs were given several concessions. The Confederation had submitted a memorandum prior to the presentation of the budget to request the FM to restore the Standard Deduction taken away by his predecessor. The Finance Minister thought it fit not to accede to the demand.
The 2011-12 budget was no different from the one presented by the FM in 2010. There was no proposal from the Govt. in the budget to combat the ever increasing inflation in the economy and the rise in prices of essential commodities. The budget proposal to increase taxes on fuel, fertiliser and food, a reduction of Rs.20000 crores on account of subsidy from the last fiscal. Rs.11500 crore were given as concession to the direct tax payers. Out of the 5 lakh crore of rupees estimated to be the revenue forgone due to various exemptions deductions etc., the share of the corporate sector was Rs. 88000 crores. There was reduction in the provision for agriculture development. When the farmers were facing severe crisis this was an insensitive approach. The budget indicated increased outsourcing of the Govt. functions and further financial sector 'reforms'. The Finance Minister did not take note of the huge demonstration of workers that was held on 23.2.2011 to bring to the notice of the rulers of the country the plight of the working class. The Budget was a loud statement of the Govt.'s intention to pursue the right wing policies.
The 2012-13 budget was nothing but a continuation of the process commenced in 2010. The rise in the indirect taxation was of the order of 'Rs. 45940 crores and the concession in direct taxation resulted in revenue loss of RS. 4500 crores. Rs. 25000 crores of rupees was the cut effected in subsidies for fuel and another Rs. 60000 crores for fertilisers. The revenue forgone in 2011-12 was Rs. 5.3 lakh crores of which corporate garnered Rs. 50000 crores. While the Govt. slashed the interest rate on EPF from 9% to 8.5% it introduced a reduction by 25% on Security Transaction Tax and a new tax exemption for retail stock market investors. Taking in to account the fact that the speculative business in the stock market has increased phenomenally since 1991 the Govt. ought to have taken some corrective steps to arrest the casino effect on the Indian economy in the form of tax on Capital Gains on Stock transactions. This budget also saw another gross reduction (over Rs. 9000 crores) in outlay on the flag ship scheme of the UPA Govt. i.e. NREGA. Had the FM really wanted to introduce a catalyst to propel the growth rate he should have increased the public expenditure. In the end, the budget 2012-13 only helped to increase the rate of inflation in the economy.
The 2013-14 budget presented by Shri Chidambaram who became again the Finance Minister of UPA Govt. was as media reported, lacklustre in all respects. Nobody expected him to give any relief to common Indian people who were suffering from the extreme inflationary impact of the economy. The price of the food commodities had been constantly on rise. Despite having large amount of food grains stocked in the FCI go-downs the Govt. had been reluctant to release it for BPL consumers in the public Distribution system. The high rate of growth of economy had come down. The global financial crisis had started impacting the Indian economy due to the austerity measures adopted by the European Nations to come out of the crisis.
The budget was presented immediately after the tumultuous two day strike action by the Indian working class in which 12 crore workers is reported to have taken part. Even though every aspect of the Indian economy indicated the slowing down of its growth the FM announced in the budget that India continues to be one of the fast growing economies. The give away to the corporate sector continued in this budget also as the revenue foregone in direct taxes was Rs. 1.13 lakh crores. The fiscal deficit was less than the revenue foregone. The obsession with the neoliberal economic policy was writ at large in this budget also.
The various policy decisions taken by the UPA Govt. during the period under report namely the deregulation of administered price mechanism, forward trading of food article, the indiscriminate import and increase of indirect taxes budget after budget, the tacit permission for the big corporate houses to maximise profit, exports of food grains when the domestic market was reeling under the pressure of high prices, drastic curtailment of subsidy on fuel and fertiliser, deregulation of electricity tariff and other public services, the deliberate weakening of the PDS, entering of the corporate houses in the commodity market were responsible for the unabated inflation in the Indian economy. While there had been increase in the prices of all commodities, the inflation in the food articles were maximum. Earlier the Indian Govt. divided the Indian population in to two classes –APL & BPL. Quite a number of items were withdrawn from the Public Distribution outlets. The argument advanced by the govt. that the higher prices are due to the shortage in the products is not born out of facts. Between 2006-07 & 2007-08 the food production registered increase of 9.3 crore tonnes to 9.6 crore tonnes. In 2008-09 it was 9.9 crore tonne. Govt. did nothing in the form of investment in agriculture to increase production. Hardly 2% of GDP was the allocation for agriculture in budget. The FCI go-downs had 4.75 lakh tonnes food grain stock where-as the statutory requirement was 2 crore tonnes. The very purpose of FCI and Ware Housing Corporation in various parts of the country was to enable the Govt. to intervene in the market while the unscrupulous traders jack up prices artificially. The permission to indulge in Forward Trading had been the significant factor in the escalation in the prices of food article.
The Global Financial crisis did not impact the Indian economy to the same extent as it affected the developed countries only because of the fact that UPA I Govt. could not dismantle the regulatory mechanism and privatise public sector enterprises. Having committed to an export oriented growth trajectory the growth rate has presently suffered due to the inability of the Indian goods going in to the International market resulting in the escalation of current account deficit. Viewed from the angle that there had been no significant downfall in food production and despite the escalation of prices of these commodities the Govt. thought it fit to export food grains which makes us to believe that price rise has been promoted for the corporate houses to benefit. The deregulation of the price mechanism of petroleum products on the specious plea to bail out the petroleum companies from the so called under recovery was nothing but a fraud perpetuated. The fact that all petroleum companies in India had been making enormous profit as can be seen from the fact that the Indian Oil Corporation in 2009-10 made a net profit of Rs.1099 crores, HPCL – Rs. 544 crores and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Rs. 874 crores and the Govt. of India in the process making a neat additional tax revenue of Rs.86, 000 crores.
Agriculture being the top most component of Indian economy crisis in this sector will have a cascading effect. Under the liberalisation, the Govt. pursued an anti-farmer policy.The per capita production of many food items got reduced during this period due to the increased cost of inputs. The future Trading permitted by the govt. in agriculture production while immensely helping the middleman, the farmers suffered. The decreasing purchasing power of common people created another agonising situation by which the stock went on piling up in go-downs. The ASEAN agreement and the proposed treaty with European Union will affect the diary and animal husbandry sector. The unbearable debt burden has driven many of them to commit suicide. Inspite of clear evidence of extreme distress in the farming community nothing tangible is being done by the Govt. to reverse the trend. Thousands of farmers have committed suicide. The picture is dismal and no prescription is forthcoming.
FDI in retail/Pension/Insurance
In order to placate the giant transnationals like Wal-Mart, Tesco and Carrefour and due tothe persistent pressure exerted by the US administration , the UPA II Govt. decided to allow FDI in retail trade despite knowing fully well that it will destroy the livelihood of millions of small retailers in the country. The ostensible reason advanced at that point was to curb inflation which was received by derision from the public at large. When the matter came up for heated discussions in Parliament the govt. had to face the furry of many Members irrespective of political affiliation. Due to stubborn resistance of the opposition the Govt. temporarily shelved the move. The Govt. also moved to increase the FDI in Insurance then. These reforms could not be carried forward by the govt. for some time there after even though the US administration had been exerting extreme pressure covertly. The US media went to the extent of characterising the Indian Prime Minister as an indecisive personality. Stung by such accusations which was provocative in character the Union Cabinet took the decision to introduce FDI in retail, Insurance and Pension Sectors. It was expected that those political parties who were opposing the FDI in retail and had been organising demonstrative action in the streets will respond by voting against the bill. The Indian National Congress which now mastered the art of manufacturing majority in Parliament without obtaining mandate from the people did indeed produce majority with the help of Samajvadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in Parliament. The BJP being ardent supporters of neoliberal economic policies did not however support this bill for it had a clientele to protect. Despite all the skills the support for the bills was below the half way mark. With 43 members walking out the UPA Govt. could defeat the opposition motion. But of the 471 MPs present and voting in Lok Sabha only 253 voted in favour of Govt. motion and 218 against it. It is clear from the voting pattern that some of the ruling party MPs have also opposed the Bill. The Govt.'s announcement was welcomed by the large corporate houses of the country. The spokesman of the Reliance Retail explained that the "decision would give over a boost to the entire sector. The policy and regulation frame work will enhance support infrastructure for organised retail in areas such as supply chain management and could be a win-win situation for all segments of industry including small scale suppliers, farmers, consumers and retailers. Neither the small retailers nor the small producers will gain from this venture. They will be simply wiped out. "FDI in multi brand retail trade is going to be a key issue for us in the 2014 General Election. It will be a game changer like the MGNREGA, the farm loan waver and the RTI". This was what Shakil Ahmed the senior leader of Indian National Congress spoke on the intention in introducing the FDI in retail.
Another important decision the Govt. took to please the masters in Washington was increasing the Foreign equity ownership from 29% to 49% in the Insurance sector, and from 0 to 49% in the Pension Fund investment. The decision was contrary to the recommendations of the Parliamentary standing Committee. The decision was said to be taken to (1) permit the Public Sector Insurance companies to raise capital from the market (2) to allow foreign investors to conduct re-insurance business in India and third to reducing minimum capital requirement for a stand-alone company health insurance to 50 crore from 100 crore. The real purpose of the decision was however to win the approval of international rating agency and foreign investors. This was also aimed at establishing that the Manmohan Singh Govt. was committed to reform. The insurance business was nationalised in 1956 in the case of Life Insurance and 1972 in the case of General Insurance. The 245 Indian and foreign Insurance companies were consolidated and formed the Life Insurance Corporation of India. In the case of General Insurance there were 107 companies which in 1973 was grouped in to 4 different entities. Nationalisation had 4 (four) different objectives viz. 1. To reach large proportion of people 2. Protect the interest of the public 3. to encourage and develop the insurance habit 4. to make available the large volume of resources so collected for developmental purposes. 5. To ensure the stability of Insurance industry. Public ownership was to achieve the objective which was to keep the Premium rates low, Cross subsidisation etc. The Govt. decision speaks to reverse these laudable objectives.
The decision to allow FDI in Pension Fund industry was a step taken to allow the flow of FDI in reverse direction. The Fund managers will be entitled to invest anywhere in the world. Naturally the Funds have to go where profit is maximum. Elsewhere in this report we have written about the dangers of the decision of privatisation of Pension Fund and contributory Pension scheme which will replace the age old defined Pension scheme. True to its ideology BJP did support the PFRDA bill when it was re-introduced by the FM in Parliament. During the NDA Govt. the bill was first introduced in Parliament. Like the insurance sector the new pension scheme will garner the savings of common multitude of the country in the hope of getting a decent return in the evening of their life which is going to be belied by the flight of funds and bad investments. A Govt. which is supposed to protect the interest of the countryman against such machinations of the business enterprises is actually paving the way for enacting such a fraud.
Banking Sector Reforms
The Banking sector amendment bill was passed by Parliament in its winter session in 2012. The Indian National Congress has gone a long way since 1971 when Mrs. Indira Gandhi came to power and became Prime Minister with 3/4th Majority in the Lok Sabha with a mandate given by large majority of the population to her. It was an unprecedented victory for the Congress Party headed by Mrs. Gandhi after its split in 1969. It was the decision taken by her to nationalise the banks and abolish the privy-purse that swung the election in her favour. Manmohan Singh Govt. and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi's Congress Party decided to reverse this decision in 2012 by making the enactment of Banking Regulation amendment bill. It provides permission for the private giant corporation to enter in to banking industry, amass the saving of common people of country. The bill will also enable the private entrepreneur to enter in to the existing Banks to be the share holders. The bill allows private sector players a bigger role in banking industry. The Govt.'s argument in favour of the amendment is that it would increase the efficiency and capital mobilisation in the banking sector. The efficiency of the foreign banks in USA was the prime reason why it has became bankrupt in 2008 and as to why the USA had to bail them out. The foreign banks will bring in their new products and the Govt. of India will be constrained to bail them out in the name of protecting the Indian investors. The deregulation that will be brought about through this reform will certainly ensure that the country will have no fund for its infrastructure development.
Even while the country's economy was growing at a faster phase in the liberalisation era the unemployment situation has worsened. The rate of unemployment in India as per the survey conducted by NSSO was indicated at 9.4% while the job creation in the country between 2000-2005 was 2.7% it got reduced to 0.8% between 2005 and 2010. While the rate of unemployment grew generally the unemployment in the organised sector grew much more profoundly. The industrial growth registered in the country was -5.6 which accounts for the larger employment in the organised sector. Contractorisation and casualisation of workforce in the public sector Units, Govt. organisations has intensified during the period under report. Industrial performance index shows our country at 42nd position both in 2005 and 2009. Thailand, Mexico and Philippines which were far behind India now ranks 25th, 30th and 32nd respectively. Singapore ranks first, US the 2nd, Japan 3rd, Germany 4th and China the 5th.
The disinvestment of PSUs
When the Govt. became free from the left support they embarked upon various measures to divest the Govt. shares of Public Sector enterprises. Rs.40000 rupees crores was decided to be garnered by such disinvestment of which it could collect Rs. 25000 crores in the initial year. In 2012-13 the govt. expected to collect Rs. 30000 crores rupees, Most of the PSUs which are highly profit making like SAIL, NNC, BHEL, IOC, NALCO, RINL, OIL, NMDC, Power Grid Corporation, Power finance Corporation, NTPC have been earmarked for such disinvestment. The shares of these companies are being sold without having any proper evaluation of the value of the assets. It is the transfer of Public property in to private hands for pittance and must be viewed as nothing but a corrupt practice. It is now an admitted fact that the foreign investors are in a position to demand and obtain the control and management of the public sector companies despite they being minority share holders on the basis of the guarantee provided by the Govt. The process of disinvestment in effect accentuates the transfer of the core sector of economy in to the hands of the private entrepreneur.
Impact of Global Financial Crisis on Indian Economy In the report we have presented before the 2009 conference a detailed note on the course and character of the Global Financial Crisis had been incorporated. Due to the crisis the GDP of most of the OECD countries had decreased. The unemployment increased. Speculative business enormously increased. The main item of speculation trade had been the food product. The oil prices were abnormally raised from 40 Dollar per barrel to 147 Dollar per barrel.
The Indian rulers were to admit that but for the regulatory mechanism especially in the financial sector which was in existence in India the crisis would have invaded our country impacting it with serious difficulties. Still the bailout packages were provided to the entrepreneurs and the corporate houses leaving the common man in jittery. In fact whatever burden of crisis was to be borne by the capitalist class was transferred to the common people.
The West European countries which are reeling under the financial crisis have been asked by the IMF to take remedial measures to resort to austerity to rescue the economy from collapse. These measures have hurt the people at large paving way for incessant agitation and upsurgence. The rulers of these countries had to step down and face elections where they lost power. Whoever comes to govern the country is compelled to accept the prescriptions of the IMF.
The austerity measures prevent import of goods from developing countries. India having attained its fastest economic growth through exports now faces a tough situation. The exports have dried down and the balance of payment position has become precarious. During the period under report the growth of economy had been around 5% only. Despite the tall claims made by the Finance Minister the scenario has not undergone any change. It is also reported that the current balance of payment position is almost identical of what it was in 1991 i.e. the year in which we had the worst financial crisis.
Changing Employment Profile
In the early 60s the employment had three important classifications namely 1. Permanent and regular employees 2. Temporary employees and 3. Casual/Contingent/Daily rated or part time workers. The Casual workers were employed mainly for housekeeping jobs like Sweeper, Farash, Mali, Watchman etc. There was an acknowledged system of regularisation of Casual workers who have put in certain number of years of service. They were to be absorbed in a few such positions which are required to be kept on a permanent basis. Quite often the casual worker will remain as such for many years. The employees who are recruited from the market to man positions which are of perennial nature but not made permanent as the Govt. had not evaluated the requirement of permanent post. The temporary employee used to continue as such for years together waiting for confirmation on the basis of arising of vacancy of permanent post. In 1960s and 70s most of the struggles of Central govt. Employees centred around the demand for conversion of temporary post as regular post and regularisation of contingent paid employees. The system of quasi permanency was introduced as result of this struggle. And regularisation of Casual workers took place some times on negotiation and on other occasions by judicial pronouncements. By the end of the decade of 1980 many changes were brought about through struggles with the result the job security in Govt. sector was ensured to everybody once recruited. It was also ensured that nobody losses job except when the disciplinary proceedings are initiated. A scheme was brought about in 1993 whereby all contingent/casual workers were given temporary status and regularised as and when permanent vacancy arose.
The neo liberal economic policy changed the profile of employment in Govt. sector drastically. Computerisation helped in outsourcing even skilled functions. Housekeeping jobs in all organisations have been now handed over to contract labour. The number of casual employees has increased enormously. The service condition of Gramin Dak Sevaks who were called the Extra Departmental Agents was subject matter of serious agitation and struggle of the postal employees in the 1970s and 80s. As a product of these struggles the postal department had to recognise them as civil servants for certain limited purposes. The strenuous efforts of NFPE had its reflection when the Supreme Court decided that the Extra Departmental Agents were indeed the holders of civil post. The Talwar Committee which was appointed in the wake of setting up of 5th CPC made salutary recommendations to integrate the Gramin Dak Sevaks as full-fledged Govt. employees. But these recommendations were not fully accepted by the Govt. with the result the integration of GDS as civil servants did not take place fully. On the advent of the neo-liberal regime the service conditions of the GDS were attacked with vehemence and every effort has been made to casualise their service. It is the heroic struggle organised by the postal employees during this period that could bring about a halt to the re-casualisation process of GDS. About 1/3 of the work force in Govt. sector presently are non-regular employees. Their number is increasing in alarming proportions. Confederation has to undertake serious efforts to organise these sections of the employees and bring about a powerful movement to ensure that contract workers, casual workers and with whatever name assigned to them are given the same amount of wages as is provided to the regular employees. Annexed to this report is a letter the Confederation has prepared to be submitted to the MPs wherein we have detailed the precarious condition of employment imposed upon them.
It is reported that the number of working women both in the organised and unorganised sector came down during the period under report. In Govt. employment too there had been a reflection of this phenomenon. In the batch of persons who were recruited in this period the percentage of women employees had been very less. Despite the issuance of various instructions and setting up of committees the complaint of sexual harassment at work place has been on increase. It is an admitted fact that the decision to have women subcommittee functioning in every state has not been implemented. The fact that we had only one meeting of the sub-committee during this period is indicative of weakness in this regard. In the absence of a forum to discuss discreetly it must be construed that the harassment is often silently suffered. In the background of the enormous increase of sexual violence against women and children in the society it is necessary to take initiative to empowering women workers so as to embolden them to take up issues of sexual harassment. One of the important points made out by the women workers is the need for an independent forum in all offices were the complaint of sexual harassment could be looked into with objectivity and impartiality. The present set up is capable of getting influenced by the senior bureaucrats in the offices. The next meeting of the women's subcommittee after reconstitution must address this matter seriously.
Indian Labour Conference
The 43rd session of Indian Labour Conference was held on 23rd and 24th November, 2010 and the 44th on 14th and 15th February, 2012. One of the important issue on which concensus was reached on the 43rd session was on the need to amend the provisions of Contract Labour (regularisation and abolition) Act 1970. The amendment has been sought to provide same wages and benefits to the contract workers for the same and similar nature of work carried out by the regular workers in the concerned organisation. The labour Ministry's proposal in this regard is still awaiting clearance from the cabinet presumably due to the pressure exerted by the corporate lobby on the Govt. The consensus reached in the 44th conference was to grant the minimum wage to all workers as per the 15th ILC norms supplemented by the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Raptacos Co. Vs. Workers Union -1992. Action on this proposal is also pending before the Govt.
Attack on Trade Unions in West Bengal
In the state assembly elections of West Bengal Trinamool Congress became victorious and assumed the power of Governance. For the left front Govt. it was an exit after 35 years. It was unfortunate that the victory was celebrated by the TMC cadres by unleashing violent physical attacks on Trade Union cadres. During the period under report West Bengal comrades reported innumerable number of incidents where even peaceful demonstrations were attacked. Quite a number of organisations sprang up in Govt. offices to give impression that the existing Unions have no support of the mass of the employees. The top bureaucrats in some of the departments initially believed in this canard. The latter developments however proved that the traditional organisations which were in existence for years together did command the respect and support of the common employees. In all the general strike actions that took place during the period efforts were made by these disruptive elements to indulge in violence and terrorise the employees. Though some sporadic incidents did take place they could not succeed in ensuring the presence of even a few employees in the offices on this action day.
NATIONAL POLITICAL SITUATION
The General Elections to the 15th Lok Sabha was held in April/May 2009. In our report to the last Conference we had reported the outcome of this election. 714 million were the electorate of which 60% participated in the election process. The UPA combination formed the Govt. having obtained majority in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Dr. Manmohan Singh again became the Prime Minister. He became the 2nd Prime Minister of the country who sought re-election after the full term of 5 years and became victorious. The election results were contrary to the general perception of a hung Parliament. The Indian electorate seems to have genuinely felt that only Indian National Congress could provide a stable Govt. The NREGS introduced by the UPA I Govt. on the insistence of the Left parties did wonder to them in so far as electoral gains are concerned. The left parties which wielded great amount of influence in UPA I Govt. and which was instrumental in raising many pro-people issues and resisting the onslaught of neoliberal policy however fared badly both in West Bengal and Kerala.
Closely following the election in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh, five major states went to polls in April/May 2011. i.e. West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducheri. Barring Assam there had been change of Govt. in all other states. After 34 years of continuous rule the Left Front suffered an electoral defeat in West Bengal. The LDF also lost in Kerala but very narrowly. While the UDF could net 72 seats and became the ruling party in Kerala the LDF won only 68 seats. In TN the AIADMK swept the polls winning 85% of the total seats. Both the Congress and DMK suffered a major debacle. In Puducheri the Congress was split on the eve of election. The NR Congress which had an electoral alliance with AIADMK formed the govt. In Assam, Congress came back to power for the third time. In 2012 UP, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Goa and Manipur went to polls. Unlike the 2011 Lok Sabha election results of the 2012 verdict was in favour of regional parties. SP in UP won 224 of 403 seats. Congress scraped through in Uttarakhand winning 32 of the 70 seats. Akali Dal in Punjab with its partner BJP could muster 68 seats of the 117. Goa was won by BJP by winning 21 of the 40 seats and Manipur by Congress with42 seats out of 60. The stunning reverses suffered by the Congress Party in UP and Punjab resulted in the shrinkage of its political authority. The Indian National Congress has been looked upon by the people as the fulcrum of inefficiency, inflation and corruption. BJP won Goa with a narrow margin, but it lost out in UP very heavily, a state in which they were the ruling party once upon a time. It must be an admitted fact that the victory of SP in UP and SAD in Punjab signified a resurgence of core identity and subaltern politics by the regional forces. The assembly elections in 2012 January have left the two main line parties particularly the Indian National Congress in a muddled situation having no clear option ahead. The groupings of the regional parties have emerged powerful after these elections. The two states that went to polls in the end of 2012 were Gujarat and HP. Narendra Modi produced a hat-trick victory though the BJP under him got 2 seats lesser than its tally of the earlier election. The victory of Narendra Modi in Gujarat election has brought him to the centre stage of the National politics. He is now considered the potential candidate for the post of Prime Minister in the NDA regime. His third victory has also paved the way for a generational change in the leadership of BJP. He himself characterised his victory as one for the Indian people who cherished faster development of the country. The Congress could win 36 of the 68 seats in Himachal Pradesh state assembly where as the BJP tally was 26. There was a massive electoral turnout - 74.7%. Congress had to deploy its old and 5 time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh for campaigning. The Himachal Pradesh electorate will expect the Congress Govt. to live up to their manifesto which had promised recruitment to the vacant posts in Govt. departments, regularisation of contract workers, setting up of Pay Commission to look in to wage revision and anomalies and grant of unemployment allowance to youth who are unemployed. The assembly elections in Tripura saw a spectacular victory for the CPI (M)and the left front. Of the 60 seats CPI (M) won 50, One seat more than they had in the last assembly. The Left Front in Tripura took over the reins of Government of the tiny state for the 7th time. The people of Tripura reposed their faith and confidence in the CPI (M) leaving very little for opposition parties.
The Govt. of India succumbing to the pressure exerted by the Telangana Regional party decided to grant statehood to Telangana in 2009. This triggered a counter movement for a united Andhra Pradesh with large scale people's participation. The Govt. had to retrace and set up a Commission to go in to the various aspects of the Statehood. The Commission headed by Justice Srikrishna submitted its report in December, 2010. It had suggested six alternatives but preferred to have the sixth one whereby the state, Andhra Pradesh could remain united and Telangana region to have the status of an autonomous Regional Council. The agitation had been going on and off for some time. Political expediency is the motivating force of the UPA Govt. in the matter and may shift stand according to the situation.
Corruption & Scams
The period under report witnessed major corruption charges being levelled against persons in higher positions, i.e. the Ministers, Senior Bureaucrats and high ranking politicians. Despite receiving a mandate from the people after the Parliamentary Elections, the Manmohan Singh Government could not increase effectively the pace of reforms because of the charges of corruption, some raised by the Central Vigilance Commission, some by the Comptroller and Audit General and some other in the media. The telecom 2G Spectrum Scam that surfaced both in the floor of the Parliament and later in the report of the C&AG had been by far the biggest in terms of money swindled. The CBI which inquired into this scam, albeit under compulsion, had to charge the Minister for Communications Shri A. Raja with criminal conspiracy. He had to be jailed as part of the criminal proceedings.
Another important scam that surfaced during the period under report is in connection with the Common Wealth Games. The Chairman of the Games Committee Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, a Rajya Sabha member from Congress and former Minister under Narasimha Rao had to be arrested and jailed. The exposure of this blatant and massive corruption not only shocked the people but dented the image of the country itself. Innumerable number of bureaucrats and politicians are reported to have been involved in this wrong doing.
The exposure of the Adarsh Housing Scam in which the defence land was handed over to a promoter of a housing project, on the plea that flats will be built for Kargil Widows and war veterans has led to the resignation of Shri Ashok Chavan, the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The proceedings in the Parliament was disrupted for several days since the UPA II refused to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee to go into the corruption charges in the 2G Spectrum case where the C&AG has indicted the Government with a loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crores to the exchequer. The corruption charges were not only against the UPA and its partners but also were levelled against BJP. The Chief Minister of Karnataka Mr. Yedyurappa and two of his Ministers had to resign. Prosecution has been launched against them and they have been jailed.
Both in the Parliament and outside allegations were levelled against the Government for misusing the CBI for partisan political gains. The ISRO-Antrix deal with Devas for 70 Mhz. S-band Spectrum, the K G Basin Gas Contract to Reliance were the other major charges hurled at the Government based on the C&AG report. It is alleged that the Government had been acting at the behest of the big corporate houses and the Prime Minister himself had been involved to resolve the dispute between the Ambani brothers. It must be in this context that one should look at the movement organized by Mr. Anna Hazare which received the greatest support of the common people especially the youth. The Supreme Court had to direct the Government to take immediate action to bring back the black money stashed away in tax heavens by the rich people. The Government employed the undesirable methodology to silence the upheaval generated through Mr. Anna Hazare's agitation. Even though the issue for a strong Lok Pal Bill was raised by Mr. Anna Hazare and his team it must be sadly mentioned that none of them at any point of time criticized the neo-liberal policies which had been the root cause of all these scams.
In the monsoon session of Parliament in 2012 the C&AG Report on allocation of coal blocks Ultra Mega power projects and Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the Delhi Indira Gandhi Air Port were tabled. As expected there had been hue and cry, allegation and counter allegations, demand for the resignation of Prime Minister and protests especially from BJP Parliamentarians erupted in the House. The Coal Gate scam prominently figured in the media. Allocation of coal blocks palpably as an act of nepotism was the subject matter of controversy. As in the case of 2G spectrum the allocation of coal blocks were considered an act resulting in the huge revenue loss to the Government. The fact that the Prime Minister himself was the coal Minister at that point of time materially altered the situation in as much as the Mr. clean personal image of the PM was questioned with force and substance. The institution of C&AG was criticised by none other than the Prime Minister himself terming the report on coal block allocation as "flawed and disputable". The Report of the C&AG on the Ultra Mega power project was a severe indictment for the undue benefit given to the private players in the sector amounting to squandering away precious natural resources. The Civil Aviation ministry was accused of favouring the promoters of the Delhi airport to levy development fees. In the report the C&AG suggested that all Public-Private arrangements must be linked to certain basic triggers like traffic volume, tariff, return on investment, breakeven period etc. The Report has identified that only 10% of the Capital expenditure of Rs.12857 crores has come from the promoter DIAL where as the development fees accrued was Rs.3415.35 crores. The allegations of corruption against this Government had been coming one after the other in every session of Parliament, the latest being the Helicopter deal on which the middleman had been allowed to gain huge amount of kickback.
Atrocities against Women
The rape and murder of a 23 year old girl in a moving bus in the capital city of Delhi triggered violent agitations by the people throughout the country. Stung by the agonising helplessness of a college girl in the face of the inhuman brutality the people rose in rebellion against those in power who were insensitive to the happenings. For the first time young people, school and college students poured out in to the streets and the entire media supported the cause. The UPA Govt.'s handling of the situation created anger and outrage of an unprecedented nature. The brutalisation of the Society had been the primary cause for such inhuman action carried out with a sense of impunity. Of late such incidents have become galore in Indian Society. There is no part of the country from where such incidents are not reported. Despite several suggestions that were made for reforming the police administration in the country nothing tangible was done by rulers of free India. However, the popular upsurge has generated the sanctions required to make the Govt. act, act decisively. The ordinance that has been issued on the basis of the recommendations of JS Verma Commission has been the result of voluntary and violent reaction of the young people. The Parliament has passed 2 legislations i.e. (1) Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at work place Act, 2012 (2) Protection of children from sexual offence Act, 2012. It will be incorrect to state that the atrocities have happened only because of law protecting agencies have been brutalised. If it has to be prevented effectively a serious campaign on social ethos is necessary. The commoditisation of women which has been increased in the neo-liberal regime has to be stopped.
On July, 19, 2012 the country elected a new President. The UPAs Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee became the President. Mr. P.A. Sangma who contested against Shri Pranab Mukherjee as opposition candidate was the candidate sponsored by BJP and some of its allies. Had there been unanimity among opposition parties, Shri Pranab Mukherjee would have been defeated. Unlike in the past there had been serious campaigning followed up by allegations and counter allegations before the election took place. In fact the validity of the candidature of Shri Pranab Mukherjee itself was questioned as it was alleged that he had not resigned his office of profit as Chairman of Indian Statistical Institute. His action in favour of emergency, the active support rendered by him for the attrocious actions in those days, his reluctance to appear before Shah Commission, his long association and support rendered to a big monopoly house when he was the Finance Minister, removal of the Chairman of SBI abruptly on instruction from Sanjay Gandhi and the number of raids conducted against political opponents when he was Minister of State for Revenue and the innumerable concessions given to Maruti Udyog Ltd were some of the issues, which came to the fore during the election campaign. As was the case on many occasions the Congress Party could ensure the support of many regional Parties in the Presidential election and ensure victory of Shri Pranab Mukherjee.
During the period under report, the efficacy of the organization in mobilizing the members for decisive action has obviously grown as could be seen from the increasing extent of participation of membership in various activities. In the last conference which was held at New Delhi in the year 2009, the various affiliated organisations who were present at the conference declared their membership. It was decided by the conference that the subscription payments will be made by all the affiliates on the basis of the so declared membership. No doubt, the membership declared by various organisations was less than the number which the CHQ had circulated earlier. It was also decided that we would start with a clean slate w. e. f. 1.4.2010 and the affiliates will try to make the payments of subscription periodically. Due to the continuous erosion of working strength in various departments the possibility of increasing the membership became dim. However, it was decided that the Confederation should expand from its traditional base to affiliate various organizations of employees working in the autonomous bodies. There had been little attempt on our part to carry out the directive of the conference in this regard. The major organisations of the employees of autonomous bodies like PF, ESI, etc. are presently not associated with the Confederation. In so far as the service conditions of these employees are concerned, they continue to be governed by the rules and regulations made by the Government of India. Even the wage revision in these organizations takes place on the basis of the recommendations of the Central Pay Commissions.
The conference adopted resolution on policy and programme, which inter-alia directed us to strive our best to organise the central government employees to induce them to participate in the common struggles of the Indian working class against the neo-liberal economy. The relevant portion of the resolution reads as under:
Throughout the world, workers rose in struggle. To combat this ongoing resistance, the Trade Union rights were denied. Enactments were made to abridge the labour welfare measures. In India we even witnessed brutal physical assaults with the active collaboration of the Police and state machinery as happened in Gurgaon, Rajasthan and Orissa. Thousands of peasants ended their life during the period. There had been incessant resistance to the policies from all sections of the working people. More and more people began to participate in the resistance movement. The strike actions, under the united platform of Sponsoring Committee of Trade Unions elicited more and more participation of the workers.
The Central Government employees, who were reluctant partners in the struggle in the beginning, realised the enormity and pernicious impact of these policies in the day to day life. The strike action of 30th t October, 2007 against the pension fund reforms was the manifestation of the growing realisation of the issues involved. It was only on the threat of an indefinite strike action the Government of India revised its stand and decided to set up the 6th CPC. The downsizing, contractorisation, privatisation, outsourcing etc were the various methodologies adopted to shed regular employment and usher in informalisation of workforce to carry on even the unavoidable perennial and permanent nature of functions. This has continued unabated and serious struggles are required to stem the rot. We are to take initiative in mobilising the entirety of Central Government employees.
There had been no bilateral discussions and negotiations with the Unions/Federations/Associations of the Central Government employees worth the name on the demands placed jointly by all these organisations to the Government on the recommendations of 6th CPC. What all in the name of discussions happened was to provide an audience to the Staff Side of JCM by the Committee of Secretaries. Most of the issues/demands in the charter were rejected without adducing any reasons whatsoever. This meeting calls upon the National Executive to strive to bring those issues to the centre stage of discussion, demand negotiation with the group of Ministers and organize programme of action including strike to bring about a satisfactory settlement support thereof.
The situation makes it binding on us to prepare for a long and sustained struggle. This conference exhorts its members to strive their best to bring about a much more united and militant movement to make it possible.
It is, therefore, necessary that we should review the organizational strength and weakness in the light of the decisions we have taken in the last conference.
In the scenario where the working strength of the various organisations of the Government of India has been constantly decreasing and the induction of informal workers being the order of the day, it can be well stated that it was impossible to increase the membership. All the major affiliates of the Confederation, viz. the National Federation of Postal Employees, the Income Tax Employees Federation, All India Audit and Accounts Association, Ground Water Board, GSI, Survey of India, Printing and Stationery, Civil Accounts, Atomic Energy and many others have reported lesser membership this time than what was available in our last conference in 2009. Steps were taken by a few organisations to unionise the informal workers, the achievement in this direction is not very encouraging. It is also a fact that while the number of regular workers has gone down, the number of informal workers has gone up. Unionisation of members other than in the Postal and Income Tax has suffered due to negligence. The deficiency has to be looked seriously from the point of view of the fact that presently no effort is needed to collect the subscription from the members after the new recognition rules came in to being. The check off system is mandatory and the subscription amount is deducted from the salary of the employees by the administrative machinery. Except in a few organisations the threat of disruption and emergence of rival organizations are few and far between. It is therefore to be concluded that necessary efforts are needed on the part of the affiliates to increase their membership.
2. State Committees and District Committees:
It was the decision of the last conference that unless the State and District Committees and its functioning are revived it would not be possible to channelise the efforts of the CHQ to the grass root level. Various attempts were made of the 3 year period to put into operation this decision. While, it may not be possible to make a firm comment that the efforts have been successful it could be certainly stated that improvement has been registered in this regard at least in the field of formation of the State Committees. The difficulties in organising District Committees and to bring about a cohesive functioning of the State Committees which can supervise and monitor and guide the District Committees in its endeavour to carry out various programme of action have been recognised. The fact that quite a distance has been covered in this regard has to be appreciated by this conference and the endeavour must be continued up till it becomes possible to have a live-wire contact with all the unions from the centre itself. Organisational initiative at widest possible levels is needed to reach out to the grass root level workers. The mechanism to make it possible have been evolved to a great extent both in West Bengal and in Kerala in as much as they could bring about the District Committees alive and functioning, thus developing a very strong organisational structure. So long as this objective is not achieved at all states, the efficacy of the Confederation is bound to suffer.
All major organisations affiliated to the Confederation have obtained recognition as the representative body or the major negotiating agents as the case may be. The verification of membership in all the organisations does take place periodically and our affiliates had been continuously obtaining the grant of recognition sometimes even increasing their membership compared to their rival organisations. However, the scenario that emerges in the case of smaller organisations is entirely different - (i) they suffer due to the fact that their headquarters is not stationed in Delhi, (ii) the infrequent contacts with the authorities at the Ministry level, (iii) the inappropriate understanding of the rules and procedures of recognition, (iv) the reluctance on the part of the authorities to grant recognition or to offer facilities for organizational functioning, (v) the reclassification and consequent categorisation of employees in certain departments, (vi) the non availability of the negotiating forum like JCM in many departments, (vii) the lack of initiative on the part of the leadership to pursue the grant of recognition with the concerned authorities, (viii) the reluctance to amend the constitution to conform to the requirements of recognition rules.
These are some of the problems we had faced while pursuing the question of grant of recognition of various smaller affiliated organisations of Confederation. There are yet another set of difficulties which we have encountered when the leadership of the concerned organisations failed to appreciate the seriousness of the issue. The CHQ had been taking up the issue both formally and informally with the Department of Personnel to have an expeditious decision on the question of recognition. The grant of recognition is often linked to the fate of the functioning of the JCM. While the administration prefers to take the excuse that in the absence of recognition they were not able to hold the meeting of the negotiating body, the organisations justifiably states that the recognition is delayed by the administration precisely to deny the access of the employees to the negotiating machinery. The CHQ also suffered due to non receipt of requisite information needed to take up the matter with the Department of Personnel authorities. Often the CHQ has found that there had been no unpardonable delay on the part of the authorities in the Department of Personnel whereas it had been the wanton inaction on the part of the departmental authorities that the recognition issue got prolonged. We should recognise the need and requirements of recognition to effectively intervene in redressing the grievances of the members. One of the reasons as to why the smaller affiliates are not in a position to command respect from their membership is the inefficacy of the organisation to address to the small but irritant problems of the members. This must be seen as a weakness which is surmountable.
4. Our Affiliates:
In this report we have not chosen to incorporate a detailed note on the functioning of various affiliates of Confederation. We have not elicited also such reports as we have done in 2009. The form of democratic functioning is now statutorily enshrined to be followed. The CHQ is aware of the fact that the increasing number of the members of the affiliated organizations are participating in the various programmes of action including strike. This apart, every strike action (except the 20th and 21st February, 2013 two days strike) that has been organised during this period (7th September, 2010, 28th February, 2012 and 12th December, 2012) has been subjected to review by the National Executive immediately thereafter. The strength and weakness of the respective organisations are noted in detail in those review report. This conference has to review the strike action of 20th and 21st February, 2013 which could not be done by the National Executive earlier. Suffice to say that the various activities which have been organised by the Confederation during the period under report have gone to energise the movement and enthuse the membership. It is also a fact that struggles have been organised for sectoral demands by the respective organisations on the basis of the decisions taken in their respective organisational forum. It has to be therefore concluded that both the sectoral struggles and various strike actions organised under the auspicious of the joint platform have immensely helped to vitalise the movement of various associations/Federations.
5. Casual Contingent Workers:
As has been indicated elsewhere in this report the number of employees per se in each department has gone up but the increase is mostly garnered by the informal sector workers. It is the segment of contingent, casual and contract workers whose number registered an increase during the period under report. In the present dispensation they cannot be unionised as the organisation which are recognised and functioning as the affiliates of the Confederation are not entitled to enroll these workers as their members. In most of the organisations their number being abysmally small, a separate organisation for the casual workers becomes difficult. Besides, these workers are young in age and have no experience in running a trade union organisation making it hardly possible for them to take any initiative in this regard. It was in this context that a decision was taken by the National Council of the Confederation that the organisation of the regular employees must take initiative in forming associations and federations of these workers. However, it has to be admitted that the endeavour in this regard has not picked up any discernible momentum. Suggestions were made in various meetings of the National Executive that help and assistance from the comrades who have retired from service, who have functioned in various capacities in the organisation might be solicited to form unions and associations of casual workers. Such an organisation has come into being in the Postal Department and an effective state wise organisation of informal workers does exist in the state of West Bengal. It is necessary that the state committees and those affiliates who have the presence of large number of such employees to take initiative in the matter. It would be better if we adopt a time frame to carry out this task. Annexed to this report is a letter drafted by the Confederation CHQ for submission to various Members of Parliament i.
6. Democratic Functioning:
It is said that democratic functioning is the corner stone of strengthening the trade union movement. Through democratic functioning only it is possible to involve the mass of the employees. Confederation was formed as an apex organisation to project the issues common to all central government employees. In our last conference held in 2009 taking in to account the need for a wider participation of the affiliated organisations and its leaders.
In the deliberations and decision making process decided to adopt a four tier system replacing the existing three tier system structure. Accordingly, the supreme decision making body became the National Conference which is to meet once in every three years. The National Council which will have the composition of the chief executive of the apex organisations, the National Executive Committee members and members of the secretariat shall have to meet once in a year. The National Executive is stipulated to meet once in four months and the National Secretariat as often as possible. During the period under report the National Council did meet once in a year. The National Executive, however, had been met only once in 6 months in spite of the stipulated period of 4 months. National Secretariat, especially the available members of the National Secretariat met according to requirement quite often. As reported elsewhere in this report the 3 year period had been exceptionally tumultuous because of the four strike actions the Confederation was called upon to organise. The National Secretariat members and the State Committee had to take strenuous efforts in building up an effective campaign programme. In the process there had been wider consultation and participation and it had its obvious impact in as much as it brought about close relationship amongst the various functionaries. In the report that describes the activities of the Confederation the various decisions and gist of the deliberations of these meetings are enumerated. This is to state only that during the period under report, the National Secretariat of the Confederation made all efforts to ensure democratic functioning at least in respect of convening various organisational forums within the specified period of time. Though the communication and interaction between the leadership and the rank and file and personal contact increased tremendously during this period during the periodical struggles, the Confederation could not bring about a journal which was considered very necessary by the last Conference. The Conference in 2009 had noted and rightly so the need of a journal not only to convey the status of the demands and problems taken up by the Confederation but also for the purpose of imparting an ideological education to the mass of the employees. The reason for the failure in this regard was the acute financial stringency experienced by the CHQ during this period. On quite a number of occasions in the National Secretariat and the Executive Committee metings this matter had been subjected to discussion but the fact remained that those decisions could not be translated into action. The weakness of not having a powerful journal no doubt has affected adversely the democratic functioning of this organisation. It is necessary that this deficiency must be overcome some way or other in the nearest future.
The financial stringency not only affected the publication of the journal but it also impacted the functioning of the CHQ. The work burden in the CHQ has tremendously increased due to the expectations both from the affiliates and the ordinary employees. The system developed by the CHQ for instant communication through the new technology, i.e. website and email had its desired impact. In the initial stages there was a resonated demand for continuing with the communication through letters. The letter system of communication has been time consuming and costly. E based system of communication was faster and cheap. Over the years we could make this system acceptable. We continued with both the system of communication on a quite number of occasions. The over-burdened CHQ could not elicit the requisite secretarial help. The enquiries that were coming from the ordinary employees and the requirements of the affiliate organisations could not be instantly responded. Having diagnosed the problem it will be necessary to find a plausible solution within the framework of our financial capability.
7. Our contact with International Organizations, viz. WFTU and SIGTUR:
The Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers is affiliated to TUI (Public and Allied Employees, i.e. PAE). it is also associated with SIGTUR (Southern Initiative Against Globalization and for Trade Union Rights). During the period under report, the WFTU conference was held at Athens, Greece, the conference of TUI (PAE) at Brazilia in Brazil and the meeting of SIGTUR in Perth in Australia. At the conference of the TUI (PAE) the Secretary General of Confederation was elected as Vice President. Com. Lula Mile Sotake became the President and Com. Sebastiao Sores of Brazil became the General Secretary. TUI (PAE) was brought into a very well functioning organization by the then General Secretary Com. Sukomal Sen. As was the case with WFTU, TUI (PAE) was also a defunct organisation after the collapse of Soviet Union. Credit must go to Com. Sukomal Sen for reviving the functioning of TUI (PAE) on his taking over the stewardship of that organisation. However, it is very unfortunate and sad to report that after the conference at Brazilia, when the mantle was handed over to Com. Sebastiao Sores as the General Secretary of TUI not even a letter was issued from the CHQ nor has he chosen to reply to the number of communications we have written to him. It must now be said without hesitation that TUI (PAE) has become effectively a non functioning unit of WFTU.
The 16th Conference of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) was held at Athens, national capital of Greece from 6th April, 2011 to 10th April, 2011. On behalf of the Confederation of Central Government Employees and workers, Com. K.K.N. Kutty, Secretary General and Com. M. Krishnan, Secretary General, National Federation of Postal Employees participated at the Conference as delegates.`A detailed report is annexed.
The Regional Co-ordination Committee of SIGTUR (Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights) met at Perth, Western Australia from 12th to 14th July, 2011. The RCC had the participation of delegates/nominees from Trade Unions in Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, Philippines, India, Argentina and Korea. India was represented by Com. KKN Kutty, Secretary General, Confederation. The agenda for discussions were:
(a) Crises of Global Capitalism (Finance/Work restructuring/Climatic Change) impact on the global south and the State of labour internationalism;
(b) Empowering SIGTUR organisationally- on the basis of the document tabled at the RCC meeting in Korea in November, 2010;
(c) Proposals for a futures commission. Report on the outcome of this meeting is annexed.
8. Trade Union Classes:
The National Executive of Confederation had rightly felt the need for organizing classes for the sake of imparting education especially to the younger comrades, who volunteer for being active in the movement. The affiliate organizations were requested to undertake conducting such classes. As per the information available at the CHQ, the National Federation of Postal Employees have conducted classes at various centres, which apart from raising the trade union consciousness amongst active workers helped to organize the struggles in a purposeful manner. The Income Tax Employees Federation, Tamil Nadu State Committee is reported to have conducted such classes during this period under report. The Himachal Pradesh/Shimla units of All India Audit & Accounts Association also conducted TU class. While the comrades who have taken this task seriously must be congratulated, it has to be noted with regret that no efforts were taken by the other affiliates. It must be the endeavour in the days to come of the Confederation and also its affiliates to address this vital task.
Report on Activities
The period between the last conference which was held in Delhi in December, 2009 and the 24th Conference being held at Calcutta had been a very eventful period in the trade union movement of our country. The strike of 7th September, 2010 had the participation of the INTUC. Even though efforts were made to bring about an all round unity at the central trade unions level it could not fructify on 7th September, 2010 as the BMS at the last moment decided not to take part in that strike action but the latter two strike actions on 28.2.2012 and on 20th and 21st February, 2013 the central trade unions could forge all round unity of the working class in the country. The 11 central trade unions came to form a joint platform to spearhead the movement against the neo economic policies of the government. The Coming together of all these organisations had a significant impact in all sectors. All round unity of all independent federations, associations and unions could be brought about. Hence the strike action elicited the largest participation of the Indian working class. The unity also brought about an enthusiasm amongst the workers and the resultant action on 20th and 21st February, 2013 became the strike action with the largest participation of the workers ever in the history of the trade union movement.
Our participation in the 3 General Strike Actions:
In 2003 the Confederation could take a resolution in its All India Conference to the effect that it will endeavour to ensure the participation of the central government employees in the joint action of the trade unions in the country against the neo liberal economic policies. Accordingly, the Confederation had been endorsing the decisions of the sponsoring committee and the joint platform of central trade unions. During the year under report Confederation carried out 3 strikes on 7th September, 2010, 28.2.2012 and 20th & 21st February, 2013.
7th September, 2010 Strike:
On 16th July, 2010 the central trade unions' joint platform organised a massive convention at Mavalankar Hall, New Delhi. INTUC participated in the convention which enthused the entire working class movement in the country for they have been shying away from the unity movement of working class all these years. The convention adopted a 5 point charter of demands and decided to call upon the working class to organize a general strike on 7th September, 2010. The demands were:
a) To contain the rise in the price of essential commodities.
b) Steps to protect jobs in recession heat arise.
c) Enforcement of all labour welfare legislations.
d) Social security measures for all
e) Stop disinvestment of shares of public sector undertakings.
The Confederation, in its National Executive Meeting decided to include, along with the 5 demands, the government employees' specific 5 demands in the charter to ensure the participation of central government employees in this historic strike action. Those demands so included to elicit the participation of central government employees were:
1) Fill up all existing vacancies.
2) Stop contractualisation, privatisation, etc.
3) Regularise all contingent, casual and contract workers.
4) Withdraw PFRDA Bill.
5) Guarantee right to strike as a fundamental right to the employees.
A joint campaign along with All India State Government Employees Federation was organised. On 11.08.2010 the National Executive of the Confederation again met to intensify campaign for the strike. It took note of the large scale victimisation in All India Audit and Accounts Association by the C&AG. It was noted that nearly 20000 employees were proceeded against under various provisions of CCS (CCA) Rules for having organised a mass casual leave campaign on 8th April, 2010. The meeting also decided to unleash intensive campaign for the success of the 7th September, 2010 strike.
The strike action elicited total participation of Central Government employees in the States of Kerala, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, and 70 to 80% in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand Karnataka, Rajasthan Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and partial in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Orissa etc. In Delhi the strike participation was restricted to the employees of the RMS division and a few other organizations belonging to the Postal Department.
The Strike was an impressive indication of the growing discontent of the Central Government employees over the Neo-liberal Economic Policies, which has threatened the job security of the workers, redundancy due to outsourcing, corporatisation and privatisation of Government departments, contractorisation of the functions of about 10 lakh employees belonging to the lower strata and the big erosion of the value of the wages due to the price rise.
28th February, 2012 Strike:
The amazing response of the workers for the strike action on 7th September, 2010 emboldened the central trade union leaders to widen the platform of struggle and successfully enlist BMS. In a statement issued on 2nd December, 2011 to which the BMS was a signatory the joint platform of trade unions called upon the masses of toiling people and their organizations irrespective of their affiliations to join the strike action on 28th February, 2012. The National Executive of the Confederation met and decided to make the strike much more successful than of 7th September, 2010. The participation of the BMS and the INTUC had its salutary impact amongst the central government employees too.
Having realised that the root cause of all the problems that they face in the work spot and in the society is the new economic policies pursued by the government most of the employees decided to take part in the strike action. In the press statement issued on 20th February, 2012 the Confederation noted that the central government employees throughout the county have responded the call admirably in as much as the strike was total in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur and about 80% in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The communiqué also noted that the large scale participation had been an admission of the discontent especially against the new pension scheme, outsourcing,contractorisation, privatisation, etc. which had threatened their job security. They have realised that despite the DA compensation it had become difficult for them to make the both ends meet in view of the rise in prices of essential commodities. The 28th February, 2012 strike action projected the following demands before the government:
a) No contractorisation
b) Equal pay for equal work.
c) Grant of minimum wage of not less than Rs.10,000/- per month.
d) Removal of ceiling on bonus entitlement.
e) Assured pension for all.
f) Mandatory registration of trade unions
g) Ratification of ILO Conventions.
As per the statement issued by the central trade unions about 10 crore workers had participated in that strike.
20th & 21st February, 2013 strike:
On 4th September, 2012 the central trade unions again met in a convention at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium, New Delhi. Besides the 11 central trade unions, representatives of independent federations and associations participated in the convention. After daylong deliberations the convention took a historic decision of organizing 2 days strike on 20th & 21st February, 2013. In order to prepare the workers for the eventual slow down the convention adopted the following action programme:
1. State/District/Sector level Joint Conventions during September, October and November, 2012.
2. Satyagraha/Jail Bharo/Court arrest on 18th/19th December, 2012 in all the states throughout the country.
3. March to Parliament on 20th December, 2012 (mobilisation by the unions from the states adjoining Delhi).
The decision to go for a 48 hour strike by all organisations created an apprehension over the response of the common members for such an action. The Secretariat of the Confederation had discussed this issue. It was noted with some anguish that the proposed 2 day strike was to follow our on one day strike on 12th December 2012 on sectoral demands. It was therefore decided that an intensive campaign programme has to be conducted by the Confederation. For continuously about 5-6 months the leaders of the Confederation both from the CHQ and from the State committees visited various stations of the country in order to mobilise the workers. The tremendous response from the mass of the employees on these two days was unprecedented. The Confederation in its communication on 25th February, 2013 conveyed the situation that has emerged after the strike as under:
"The two days strike, for which the call was given by the Joint Platform of Trade Unions in the country through the National Convention held at New Delhi on 4th September, 2012 was a tremendous success. Not only the workers in the country but also common people supported the strike action in many States. It is estimated by the Central Trade Unions that more than 10 crore workers might have participated in the strike. In other words more than 50 crore people of the country supported the action. The overwhelming response in the mightiest strike action ever of the Indian working Class is indicative of the growing anger against the economic policies pursued by the Government. There had been constant and continuous increase in the prices of basic needs of the common people i.e. food items, gas, diesel, gas, coal electricity etc. in the last two years. The inflation in the economy continued unabated despite the assurance held out by the rulers, as a matter of course. to contain it.
Every decision of the UPA II Government has fuelled the inflation in the economy and consequent rise in prices of all essential commodities. Despite the lathi charge and arrest of the workers in certain parts of the country, the strike had been by far peaceful. Leader of the Haryana Roadways Corporation affiliated to AITUC was killed in Ambala Transport Depot in a tragic incident when the Transport authorities decided to take a bus from the depot against the opposition of the workers. Most of the State Governments especially the TMC led West Bengal State Govt. did their best to suppress the strike action without success.
All vital sectors viz. Bank, Insurance, Central and State Government offices, Industrial Establishments, Ports and Docks, Surface Transport except Railways and Airlines, Power etc. remained paralysed. The Central Government employees on the call of the Confederation of CGE and workers responded magnificently. There had been apprehension of the extent of participation in the two day strike action especially after the one day strike on 12.12.2012 on the 15 point charter of demands. The report we have received at the CHQ proves that the apprehension was totally misplaced and the number of employees who participated in the 20th and 21st Feb. 2013 was more than we could elicit on 12th December. 2012. No doubt in some of the organisation, the strike participation in comparison with 12th December, was less. But this has been more than made up by the other organisations who could improve their position of participation on 20th and 21st.
The unprecedented participation of workers in the strike had been the manifestation of the people's resentment to the economic policies of the Government which has virtually made the poor poorer and the rich richer. They have asserted in no uncertain terms that these policies must be reversed at all cost for India to remain a sovereign republic. The recent decisions of the Government to allow FDI in Pension, and increase FDI foray in the Banking and Insurance Sector will bring back the country to serfdom. The struggle will have to continue and the campaign against the policies must pick up further momentum in the months to come.
There had been continuous propaganda by the Government through electronic media that the Government employees do not have the right to strike and not only "dies non" but disciplinary action will also be taken against the striking employees. It has been proved on a number of occasions that the vindictive actions will be resorted to by the Government when the unity is disrupted and the strike participation for one reason or other dwindle. The greatest safeguard against such barbarous and vindictive actions is to preserve our unity and determination and tread the path of struggle with cent per cent participation. Campaign amongst the mass of the employees to bring home the pernicious impact of the economic policies in the day to day life and standard of living is a pre-requisite for the success of the strike action. Wherever, this has been done, it has paid rich dividends.
12th December, 2012 Strike:
The euphoria created by the 6th CPC recommendations and the resultant grant of arrears went out as a bubble as fast as it could be. The non settlement of any of the anomalies, the fiasco created by the MACP scheme, the discredited grade pay system, the enlargement of gap in the emoluments between the top level officers and bottom level employees and above all the pension privatisation, regularisation of casual, contingent workers including Gramin Dak Sevaks, the nugatory attitude of even listening to the genuine demands of the employees, the non functioning of the JCM and insensitiveness exhibited in making the JCA machinery workable were the main grievances of the central government employees. The common central government employees looked upon the Confederation to discharge its responsibility in channelising these grievances in a proper form of agitation and struggle. The state of affairs in the organisational set up of Confederation of 80s and 90s had weakened its structure. It was the considered opinion and firm belief of the Secretariat of the Confederation that we must overcome the weakness of the movement . This conviction made them to subject this issue to discussion at various organisational forum on different occasions. The National Executive which met during the period between 2009 and 2013 subjected this issue for discussion. The Secretariat tried its level best to convey in unequivocal terms to masses of the employees that only through a collective action a fruitful negotiation will become possible. It was towards this end that it ultimately decided to organise a one day strike action on 12th December, 2012. strenuous efforts were made by the Secretariat, the leaders of the organisations, the state and district level comrades to make an intensive campaign amongst the mass of the employees. The Secretariat also felt that this action was needed to rejuvenate the movement of central government employees and to increase the very efficacy of the Confederation as a trade union organisation.
The efforts, no doubt were stupendous and and the response of the employees was exhilerating. It proved once again that as in the past, Confederation is to take the initiative in the manner as was done in 1960 and 1968. The response from the mass of the employees proved beyond an iota of doubt that the apprehension and anxiety the Secretariat had at the beginning emanating from the inherent weakness of the organisation was rather misplaced. The press communiqué issued by the Secretariat on 12th December, 2012 has noted:
Nearly Ten lakh Central Government employees took part in the one day token strike today, the 12th December, 2012 on the call of the Confederation of Central Government employees and workers, paralysing the governmental functions in various departments throughout the country. The strike was to protest against the continued efforts of the Government to enact the PFRDA Bill, whereby the existing defined benefit pension of Government employees is sought to be converted into a defined contributory pension scheme. Every reason, the Government advanced at the time of the introduction of the new scheme is found to be incorrect and misleading by the Experts Committee set up by the Government itself.
Besides, the employees had been demanding wage revision by setting up the 7th Central Pay Commission, filling up large number of vacant posts, regularisation of the service of Grameen Dak Sewaks/Casual/daily-rated workers, revival of the negotiating machinery i.e. JCM, removal of restrictions on compassionate appointments, introduction of Public Distribution system to arrest the ever increasing prices of essential commodities, stoppage of outsourcing, contractorisation, privatization etc.
As per the report received the strike was total in Assam, Tripura, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and beyond 80% in Maharashtra, Karnataka, U.P. Bihar, and about 60% in other States. The Postal, Income tax, Groundwater Board departments came to a grinding halt in all States, as the offices could not be opened at all. In Income tax Department, the promotee officers also joined the strike paving way of a complete closure. Many establishments of Atomic Energy, Printing and Stationery, Defence accounts, Medical Depots, Audit and Accounts Departments, Civil Accounts, CGHS, Indian Bureau of Mines, Directorate of Marketing Inspection, Geological Survey of India, Archaeological and Botanical Survey of India etc. remained closed.
Under the caption of the glorious strike call the Secretariat described the action in the following words:
During the three months long campaign and mobilisation programmes undertaken by our leaders, we could convincingly bring to the understanding of the rank and file of our membership the pernicious impact of the neo-liberal economic policies pursued by the Government since 1991. The employees could realise more than ever before the need for united, organised and sustained struggles and responded admirably to the call.
We were no doubt apprehensive of our decision to organise a day's strike sans the major section of the CGEs i.e. Railways and Defence Federations. We were also aware of the erosion of the efficacy of the Confederation came about in the background of prolonged confabulations and negotiations in the JCM sans struggles. It, therefore, goes to the credit of the leaders of the affiliates and members of the State Committees that we could successfully overcome our weakness and bring about vibrancy and cohesiveness and enthuse our members for a decisive action. The crowning success in our endeavour which was considered by many as adventurously risky in the beginning will embolden us to go ahead and chalk out much more intensive struggles in the days to come.
The issues which we have projected through this highly successful strike action are of paramount importance and require to be settled without delay. We firmly believe that in the action programmes that will unfold in the coming months, those who did not have the courage to walk along with us on 12th December, 2012 will join and this Government will be compelled to reverse its policies or perish. We will ensure through sustained struggles and with unwavering determination that the PFRDA bill is withdrawn, the outsourcing, privatisation, contractorisation is ended; there are no informal, daily rated workers, the Grameen Dak Sewaks enjoy the status, privileges , perks and salary of a regular employee; discrimination on various matters like the compassionate appointment, overtime allowance, Bonus entitlement etc., is removed; that the Government employees enjoy the trade union rights, i.e. right to collective bargaining and strike,; that posts are created as per the work requirement; a decent career advancement scheme is evolved to all employees and above all revision of wages is effected through the setting up of the 7th CPC together with the merger of 50% DA with Basic Pay for all purposes.
Not only the period had been eventful as stated elsewhere in this report but it was also a period of continuous action. During this period Confederation organised various programmes on some occasions unitedly with the sister organisations like AIRF, AIDEF and the All India State Government Employees Federation especially in the matter of opposing the ill-advised privatisation of pension fund and the consequent introduction of PFRDA Bill in the Parliament and series of programmes were organised during this period. Mentioned hereunder are some of the programmes undertaken and events organised. This created a proper image in the minds of the members of the fighting character of Confederation. It may be well said that the expectation of the comrades from the Confederation has risen so high giving the impression that they have begun to repose confidence in the efficacy of Confederation to deliver. Through these programmes Confederation has tried to reach out to each and every employee irrespective of the fact whether he is working in an urban agglomeration or a remote unconnectable station. It is also a fact that the message of Confederation not only reached the masses of the employees in bigger organisations where efficient system of interaction and communication exist but also in smaller organisations where members are scattered in large geographical area. The electronic communication system has come a long way in maintaining the communication possible.
Our Struggle against PFRDA Bill:
In the budget session of Parliament in 2011, the government reintroduced the Pension Fund Bill with certain modifications. Com. Basudeb Acharya, the leader of CPI (M) in the Lok Sabha objected the introduction of the bill and demanded division in the house. The government could get the support of BJP for the reintroduction of the Bill. Confederation took the initiative in bringing about unity of all sections of the government employees. Accordingly, a convention was decided to be organised at New Delhi on 22nd July, 2011 in association with All India State Government Employees Federation, All India Defence Employees Federation, All India Railwaymen Federation, School and University Teachers Federation, Dakshin Railway Employees Union and BSNL Employees Union. The convention adopted a declaration demanding the government to withdraw the Bill. The convention had the participation of more than 800 representatives from various parts of the country. The convention decided to organise a massive march to Parliament on 25th November, 2011 and ensure that massive signature campaign was organised amongst the central government employees on a petition addressed to the Prime Minister.
Thousands of employees participated in the rally organised at Jantr Mantr on 25th November, 2011. A seven member delegation consisting of Coms. S.K. Vyas (Convenor, Steering Committee), Shiv Gopal Mishra (General Secretary, AIRF), KKN Kutty (Secretary General, Confederation of Central Government Employees & Workers), S.N. Pathak (President, AIDEF), P. Abimanyu (General Secretary, BSNLEU), Rajendran (General Secretary, STFI) and Sukomal Sen (Senior Vice President, AISGEF) met the Prime Minister along with Com. Basudeb Acharya MP and Com. Tapan Sen MP and General Secretary CITU. Even though the hon'ble Prime Minister assured the delegation of the consideration of the petition and the feasibility of providing a guarantee for a minimum pension which the Standing Committee had recommended earlier, the final version presented in the Parliament had no reflection of that assurance. The Pensioners Association also participated in this programme
The Steering Committee's ambitious aim of obtaining ten million signatures however did not come about. Kerala and West Bengal state committees collected maximum number of signatures both from the employees and others. There had been inaction or lethargy on the part of our cadres in other States in carrying out the mass signature campaign. Confederation rightly noted that the 10 million signatures was not an unachievable target if a little importance could have been given. In all, we could collect 20,79,018 signature, organisation wise figures were as under:
AISGEF- 10,64,071, AIRF- 2,37,312, CONFDN.- 3,25,022. TEACHERS- 2,74,123. PENSIONERS, 97,864, AIDEF- 69,020, BSNLEU. 10,180. OTHERS- 1841. TOTAL- 20,79,018.
March to Parliament:
Besides participating in various rallies and marches in front of the Parliament organised by the joint platform of central trade unions and the one on the PFRDA Bill Confederation independently organised a massive mach to Parliament on 26th July, 2012. This programme was as per the decision taken at the National Council meeting of the Confederation. The Confederation had adopted a 15 point charter of demands, the programme of March to Parliament was to popularise the issues and present a memorandum to the Prime Minister on these issues. Serious campaign programme was undertaken throughout the country to make the 26th July programme a grant success. It was for the first time that such a campaign was organised for carrying out a massive march before the Parliament. Taking into account the huge amounts of expenditure involved in travelling, etc. the states neighbouring to the city of Delhi were given larger quota of participation. The national leaders visited all satellite towns near the national capital during the campaign. Every State Committee adhered to the quota fixed for. Some of the State Committees had exceeded the quota. More than 20000 comrades participated in this programme. The Confederation noted with extreme satisfaction that the leaders who were entrusted to undertake the country wide campaign had done an excellent job. The rally was addressed, inter-alia by Com. Basudeb Acharya, MP (CPI(M) ), Com. Amarjith Kaur, Secretary, AITUC, Com. Tapan Sen, General Secretary, CITU. The Secretary General of Confederation announced the decision to go for a strike action on 12th December, 2012 which was received by thunderous uploads from the members who participated in the march.
The memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister on 26th July, 2012 in culmination to the March to Parliament programme is annexed to this report.
National Council: During the period under report the National Council met twice at Mumbai and Cochin on 1st December, 2010 and 16th December,. The Council meeting at Kochi had the following agenda for discussion:
1. Review of the 7th September Strike (The State Committee will place written report).
2. Finalisation of Charter of Demands. (Members may send in item for inclusion in the Charter well before the National Council Meeting).
3. Reporting on issues pending at the National Anomaly and MACP Committee meetings.
4. Issues taken up before the National Council (Members may send fresh item with explanatory memorandum, the problem faced by various states in respect of CGHS facilities may be submitted separately).
5. Steps to be taken to improve the participation of Central Government Employees in the common struggles of the working class.
6. Finalisation of programmes of action.
7. Organisational review (State Committees and applications for affiliations).
8. Any other matter with the permission of the Chair.
The meetings provided an insight on the various campaign programme undertaken by the State Committee to reach out the ordinary members and explain to them the need for the struggle. While the Chennai COC organised meetings and distributed pamphlets in residential colonies, vehicle jathas were the medium adopted by the Kerala State Committee to achieve the objective. The West Bengal State Committee's methodology of campaign was to organise state-wide, office-wise meetings and distribution of pamphlets and leaflets through mass action. Most of the other states approached the members in the traditional way. One of the important decisions taken by the National Council was to demand wage revision in every 5 years and t the setting up of the 7th Central Pay Commission. The meeting also discussed the disruption in the functioning of the JCM at all levels. Many comrades have expressed anxiety over the non functioning of the JCM councils. The meeting therefore decided to take up this issue and adopted a resolution demanding the government to revive its functions. The meeting also decided to hold a National Women Convention and to elect a Women Sub Committee from that convention. It took special note of the situation arising from large scale victimisation of the Audit comrades. It also adopted a resolution to provide solidarity support to the BSNL employees who had decided to go for the strike action.
The subsequent meeting of the National Council was held on 16th December, 2011 to consider a 7 point agenda. The meeting reiterated the necessity to pursue the line of struggle. The Secretary General had submitted a report explaining the economic and political developments both at the national and international level. The meeting discussed significantly on the organizational problems especially the formation of State Committees and need for remittance of subscription. The meeting took note of the continuous impasse in the National Anomaly Committee.
National Executive and National Secretariat Meeting: During the period under report the National Executive met only twice, one at Delhi and another at Kolkata. As per the provisions of the constitution we should have met in the National Executive many more times. It had been our experience that the National Executive which include the State Committee members and the Chief Executives of all the affiliates of the organisations besides the National Secretariat members had been difficult to be convened for the State Secretaries and the Chief Executives of smaller organisations were finding it difficult to attend frequent meetings. This apart unlike the National Secretariat, the meeting of the National Executive required some organisation to take the responsibility of hosting the meeting and bearing its expenses. The smaller states were finding it difficult to bear the financial burden.
The National Secretariat met during the period under report as frequently as needed both formally and informally. Formally the Secretariat met on 16.01.2010, 16.07.2010, 03.10.2010, 30.10.2010, 24.02.2011, 30.07.2011, 28.02.2012, 27.04.2012, 25.07.2012, 04.09.2012 and 02.01.2013.
The National Executive met at Kolkata on 28.04.2012, 20 comrades from the Secretariat and 18 National Executive members representing affiliate associations/federations attended the meeting. Of the 18 State Committees Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh did not attend the National Executive meeting. The National Executive decided 26th July, 2012 as the date for March to Parliament and intensive campaign programme between April and July. The Secretariat members were asked to tour all over the country to ensure larger participation of the comrades in the March to Parliament programme. Every state was asked to organise meetings in three important places where the national leaders will attend. The State Committees were also asked to organise tour programmes in all the district capital and other important towns. The meeting also reviewed the strength and weakness of participation in the 28th February, 2012 strike action. It noted the organisational weakness in North-West Region, i.e. Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. It was noted by the committee that the State Committees have been formed in Uttaranchal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The meeting also noted that the despite having a functioning State Committee in Himachal Pradesh there had been little participation of the employees in the general strike action in Shimla. The National Executive also decided to direct the State Secretary of Rajasthan to immediately convene the state conference as the election was overdue. All State Committees were also asked to ensure that the conference do takes place in the respective states within the constitutionally stipulated time. The committee discussed the issue of injustice meted out to the cadre of LDCs and UDCs and their MACP scheme thoroughly. The Secretariat was asked to ensure that these matters were taken up with the government with urgency. The non functioning of the JCM at the departmental level and the exclusion of members whose grade pay is Rs. 4200/- was also subject matter of discussion in the Committee. The question of exclusion of the cadre carrying Rs. 4200/- as grade pay from the scheme of JCM on the pretext that those cadres have been classified as 'Group B Non Gazetted' was raised and discussed in detail. The resolution adopted in this regard was asked to be taken up with the government. The National Executive opined that as and when decisions are taken by the Confederation it should be ensured that the affiliates endorse these decisions and conveys the same to the mass of the employees. The Committee also decided that the national leadership of the affiliated associations must pay visit periodically to the states to have an interaction with the state leadership and grass root level members. The National Secretariat was asked to monitor and ensure that the state conferences are held within the time schedule prescribed. The meeting also discussed the probability of the PFRDA Bill coming for consideration and approval of the Parliament and authorised the Secretariat to decide upon the programme of 2 hour demonstration either on the day the bill is taken up in the Parliament for discussion or on the next day.
The National Secretariat which has met on quite a number of occasions during this period occasionaly had the participation of the entirety of its members and sometimes only those who have stationed at Delhi. The Secretariat meeting had been mostly convened to chalk out the details of implementation of the decisions taken at the National Council and National Executive. During this period efforts were taken to bring about collective functioning of the Confederation.
The earlier meeting of the National Executive was held on 11th August, 2010 at Gandhi Peace Foundation Hall (near ITO) at New Delhi. The important issues that came up for consideration and discussion at the meeting was the proposed one day strike on 7th September, 2010, review of joint campaign with All India State Government Employees Federation and AIDEF, the National Anomaly Committee Meeting, the MACP Committee Meetings, victimisation in the IAAD and the financial position of the Confederation CHQ. The resolution adopted on the victimization in the IAAD and the notes prepared and circulated are annexed to this report.
National Women Convention:
The first National Women's Convention of central government employees was held at Maulali Yuba Kendra, Kolkata on 7th & 8th February, 2011. The convention commenced with an impressive procession taken out from K.G. Bose Bhawan, the Headquarters of the COC West Bengal to the venue of the convention hall. Com. Sudha Sundararaman, General Secretary, All India Democratic Women Association, New Delhi inaugurated the convention. The COC, West Bengal had organised reception committee for holding the convention with Prof. Jasodhara Bagchi as Chairperson. The subject session of the convention was conducted by a presidium consisting of the following members:
1. Com.Gita Ghoshal – ITEF(W.B)
2. Com.C P.Shobhana – NFPE (Kerala)
3. Com.Pushpeswari Devi – NFPE (AP)
4. Com.Neena Kumari Kujur – Audit (Odisha)
5. Com M Durga – Civil Accounts (Chennai)
22 comrades participated in the deliberation. 7 resolutions were adopted in the convention on the following subject.
A. To observe the International Women's day on 08.03.2011 at all State Capitals by organizing meetings/convention etc. to explain the significance of the women's movement and the need for organizing working women.
B. To demand that the Govt. take steps to pass the Women's Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha.
C. To set up committees in all offices to prevent sexual harassment as per the guidelines issued by the Govt.of India in this regard and ensure that such committees are headed by judicial officers of appropriate levels. To demand for an enactment in the Parliament to give the guidelines a statutory status.
D. To demand that the Govt. accepts all recommendations made by the 6th CPC in respect of women issues and orders issued thereon.
E. The orders presently issued by the Govt. in the matter of Child care leave has stipulated that the said leave has to be treated like Earned Leave. Since this has afforded discretion for the controlling officers to either grant, reject or reduce the period of leave. The house had decided to demand that such discretionary powers are not given to the sanctioning authorities.
F. To support and popularise the issues on which working class would be organising march to Parliament on 23rd Feb.'11.
G. To ensure larger participation of women employees in all struggles against the neo-liberal economic policies.
The convention elected 23 member committee. The list of members elected is placed in the annexure. The convention was attended by 109 delegates representing 22 organisations and 13 State Committees. 373 observers also attended the conference.
Women Sub-Committee Meeting at Chennai:
The Women Sub Committee met at Chennai on 30th July, 2011. Com. Geeta Ghoshal presided over the meeting and Com. C.P. Shobhana was the Convenor. The Chennai meeting took the following decisions:
1. To organise the International women's day on 8th March, 2012 at all State Capitals by organising a seminar on the subject "impact of the neo-liberal economic policies on women and women workers in particular"
2. To organise a State level Convention of women employees of the Central Government during September/October, 2011. The State Committees of the Confederation will take necessary steps to hold the convention.
3. To hold a demonstration in a prominent Central Government office by women workers in all State Capitals against the unabated price rise of essential commodities. The date will be finalised and intimated later. Steps will be taken to have massive participation of all women employees of Central Government in this programme by the State Committees.
Conventions and Seminars Organised:
During the period under report the central trade unions as a prologue to the strike actions convened three conventions, the first on 12th July, 2010, the second on 7th September, 2011 and the third one on 4th September, 2012. The convention noted the governments inaction in taking effective steps to curb price rise, the uninterrupted violation of labour laws, the increasing job loss phenomenon, rampant corruption, contractorisation of work force, disinvestment, inaction on implementation of social security measures of the unorganised sectors of workers, etc. etc. The convention also took note of the fact that despite the various protest action of the workers, the Govt. was going ahead with t the discredited economic policies. It adopted a 5 point charter of demands and decided to go in for a strike action on 7th September, 2011.
The National convention of workers held on 7th September, 2011 at New Delhi noted its serious concerns that despite several rounds of united protest action by the entire trade union movement the government had been totally unresponsive to the concerns of the working people. The convention noted that the government was going ahead with the frequent increase in the price of petrol, diesel, kerosene, etc. it therefore called upon the working people of the country to widen the unity and agitate for projecting the following demands:
1) Concrete measures to contain price rise,
2) Measures for linkage of employment protection with the concession/incentive package offered to the entrepreneurs,
3) Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measures for violation of labour laws,
4)Universal social security cover for the unorganized sector workers without any restriction and creation of a National Social Security Fund with adequate resources in line with the recommendation of NCEUS and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and
5) Stoppage of disinvestment in central and state PSUs.
The convention decided to hold countrywide multiple forms of action such as satyagraha, jail Bharo, mass squatting etc. in all the state capitals and industrial centres on 8th November, 2011. It also authorised central trade unions to fix the date for the general strike. The central trade unions accordingly decided to organise a one day strike on 28th February, 2012.
The National Workers Convention was held on 4th September, 2012 again at New Delhi. Besides the delegates from CITU, AITUC, INTUC, BMS, HMS, AIUTUC, TUCC, AICCTU, UTUC, ADF and SEWA, thousands of delegates representing various independent federations including the Confederation participated in that convention. A copy of the declaration adopted at the convention is reproduced as annexure to this report. The convention adopted a series of programme that was to culminate in a country-wide 2 days strike on 20th & 21st February, 2013.
The National Convention to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 12th July, 1960 All India indefinite strike action of the Central Government employees was held at Mavalankar hall, Rafi Marg, New Delhi on 16th July, 2010. The convention was jointly organised by the All India Railway men Federation, All India Defence Employees Federation and the Confederation of Central Govt. employees and workers. The convention was presided over by a presidium consisting of Com. Umraomal Purohit, President, AIRF, Com. S.K.Vyas, President, Confederation of Central Government employees and workers, Com. Sailo Bhattacharya, General Secretary, All India Defence Employees Federation. More than 1000 delegates participated in the convention. On behalf of the Presidium, Com. Umraomal Purohit made the introductory speech, followed by the presentation of the Declaration by Com. K.K.N. Kutty, Secretary General, Confederation. In his presentation, Com. Kutty highlighted the issue of Minimum wage, the concept of DA and the extreme brutality with which the Government suppressed the strike. Com. Srikumar, Secretary General, AIDEF seconded the declaration. Com. Pathak, President, AIDEF presented the Hindi version of the declaration. Com. Shiv Gopal Mishra, General Secretary, AIRF, Com. Harbhajan Singh, from AIRF, Com. V.A.N. Namboodiri, President, BSNLEU, Com. M.S. Raja, Secretary, Confederation, Com. Parashar, Officiating Secretary General, National Federation of Postal Employees addressed the convention. Thereafter the following veterans were honoured.
Com. J.D. Suryawanshi, AIDEF, Com. Sadashiv Mishra, AIDEF, Com. U.M. Purohit (AIRF), Com. Rakhal Das Gupta (AIRF), Com.S.K. Vyas (Confdn.), Com. K.L. Gupta (AIRF), Com. V.A.N. Namboodiri (BSNLEU), Com. R.L. Bhattacharya. (NFPE), Com. Diwakar (NFPE), Com. Rajnath Srivastava, (Confdn) and Com. Pabitra Ranjan Chakraborty (BSNLEU)
The convention unanimously adopted the enclosed declaration and decided to observe the year commencing from 16th July, 2010 to 15th July, 2011 as the commemorative year of 1960 strike.
Negotiation through JCM:
The National Council of the JCM is the forum to discuss common issues of the central government employees at the highest level. The Council is presided over by the Cabinet Secretary being its Chairman. As per the provisions of the constitution of JCM the National Council is to meet twice in a year. Over the years the government has been systematically desrupting the very functioning of the JCM consequent upon which the negotiations had become procrastinated and fruitless. Despite several attempts made by the Staff Side the National Council had met very rarely. The Standing Committee which is chaired by the Secretary (Personnel) is supposed to meet to discuss the follow up action on issues which are discussed at the National Council. During the period under report there had been Standing Committee meetings only twice while the National Council met once. The Staff Side of the Standing Committee constituted the Staff Side in the National Anomaly Committee which was set up after the 6th CPC recommendations were implemented. The very definition of Anomaly was diluted by the Official Side while issuing relevant orders. Though the Secretary (Personnel) agreed that such unilateral change in the definition would not be acted upon the fact remained that the definition was the guiding factor even in the admission of case as Anomaly at the departmental level. It appeared to be a methodology engineered to ensure that no Anomaly is set right even when the Staff Side could establish that there had been indeed an Anomaly.
Com. S.K. Vyas, President and Com. KKN Kutty, Secretary General are the members of the Standing Committee of JCM. The views of the Confederation in the Staff Side had been articulated by these two comrades. Elsewhere in this report, in the annexure, the items proposed in the National Anomaly Committee and the course of discussions as reflected from the minutes of those meetings are given. It could be seen there from that the Anomaly Committee which met on four occasions during the period under report had been a painful effort. There are instances where the government has refused to issue orders even on matters on which agreement had been reached between the Official Side and the Staff Side.
No negotiation can become fruitful unless it is backed up by struggles. It has to be admitted with pain that the central government employees in a joint platform could not or did not organise any struggles since 1974. Even in 1974 there had been no serious efforts on the part of the Railway leadership, who spearheaded the movement, to enlist the participation of all central government employees in that struggle. The last occasion when such a united movement could be built up was in 1968. The erosion in the efficacy of the negotiation forum must be directly attributed to the weakness in the joint functioning.
It is, therefore, necessary to enable the revival of the functioning of the JCM as powerful negotiating machinery and to make the government not to tinker with the awards given through the Board of Arbitration. The Confederation must takes initiative in forging unity and united movement with the Railways and Defence Federations. This initiative will not be possible if Confederation itself as an organisation does not become capable of organising struggles. The 12th December, 2012 strike was decided and implemented with this significant objective. Expectation from the rank and file of a settlement of the demands and issues as and when the National Council or the Standing Committee or any other committees of the JCM meets are quite high. After long deliberations in the National Council the government had agreed for setting up of a permanent committee to discuss the pension related issues and the health related issues. These committees are chaired by the Secretary (Pension) and Secretary (Health) respectively. Despite being such high level committees the track record in getting settlement through these committees had been dismal. In both the Committees the Confederation has representation. It is mostly the representatives of the Confederation who takes the pains to prepare the agenda, present the issue on behalf of the staff side and convincingly meet the arguments from the Official Side. But as mentioned earlier settlement being not a product of deliberations and discussions but purely of the capacity to struggle must not be forgotten. Annexed to this report is a list of items proposed to the various meetings of the JCM and the record of discussions.
Revival of the JCM has become a must for the survival of the central government employees as a movement. The negotiating body with all its inherent weakness can be made effective for settling issues which are not of fundamental character like wage revision, etc. The forum will also provide a platform for wider unity amongst the central government employees. The smaller organisations will have the facility to take up their sectional/sectoral demands with the highest authority of the concerned department. Presently, there are about 15 awards given in favour of the Board of Arbitration but pending implementation with the government. The government has no intention to graciously accept the decisions of the Arbitrator. This unethical and even illegal stand of the government is going unchallenged. Quite a number of occasions the government has knocked at the doors of the Parliament to get these Awards rejected invoking the sovereign authority of the legislature. But for the effective intervention of the Members of Parliament belonging to the left parties the government's resolutions for rejection of these awards could have been carried the day. It must be our endeavour that the unethical decisions taken by the government must be exposed effectively. Though we have taken up this issue and included it in our charter for struggle it has to be admitted that it has not received the requisite attention.
The accompanying statement of accounts will reveal the enormous expenditure incurred during this period for carrying out various programmes. The programmes were necessary for the revival of the effective functioning of the Confederation.
Both at the National Executive Committee meeting and at the Council meeting it had been reiterated and appealed to all affiliated organisations to make payments of the subscription to carry on the functions. It must however be admitted that the promises made were not adhered to. During the three year period the total subscription we have received amounted to only Rs.102612/- working out an average receipt of Rs. 34204/- per annum. This is an area where we have lagged behind significantly in our performance during this period. Taking in to account the fact that the rate of subscription is abysmally low this conference should address and bring home the necessity of payment of subscription in time by all the affiliates. At the last conference of the Confederation held at New Delhi after detailed discussion on this aspect decision was taken to start with a clean slate in 2010-11 in so far as subscription dues are concerned. The outstanding arrears of Rs.15, 37,662/- is to be looked at it from the point of view of that decision and endeavour must be made to collect these outstanding arrears.
Setting up of VII CPC and Merger of DA:
The National Council meeting held at Mumbai deliberated upon the necessity for raising the demand of setting up the VII CPC. It came to the conclusion that the residency period of the Commission's recommendation should not exceed 5 years. Even as per the JCM scheme the issue on which the government has accepted the recommendations of a commission cannot be subjected to alterations or revision before the expiry of the period of 3 years only. This apart the government had to, under pressure from the organised movement of public undertaking workers, accede to the demand that wage revision in public sector must be after every 5 years. The council also took note to the fact that the erosion in the real value of wages determined by the VI CPC had been phenomenal. The computation presented at the council in this regard gave a picture of the erosion being more than 170%.
The council also noted the fact that the euphoria created by the media and by certain leaders of the central government organisations, coupled with the grant of huge amount of arrears obliterated a sensible and critical evaluation over the VI CPC recommendations.
For the first time in the history of movement of the central government employees the proposal of the VI CPC was allowed to be implemented sans any meaningful negotiations. This was contrary to the historic decision taken by the central government employees as back as in 1960 when the government took the decision that the commission's recommendations were to be treated as Awards of Arbitration. On all earlier occasions the recommendations of the Pay Commissions had been subjected to negotiations, of course the outcome having the bearings of the collective bargaining capacity exhibited. It is an admitted fact that the pay commissions, having been entrusted with the task of looking into varied type of functions in the government involving large number of cadres and grades make some times sweeping recommendations which give rise to various anomalies. In the case of VI CPC this problem was compounded due to the constraints or paucity of time at its disposal as they were asked to submit their report within 18 months. Even though the National Anomaly Committee was set up (and such committees at the departmental levels too) the very definition assigned to the Anomaly by the Official Side nullified the functioning of the committee right at the outset. The high power Committee of Secretaries headed by the Cabinet Secretary which went into various objections raised including that of the Staff Side in the JCM however addressed only those issues which were of concern to the higher echelons of the bureaucracy.
The procrastinated discussions at the meetings of the National Anomaly Committee made it a talking shok. The National Council articulated these feelings of the common employees when it took a decision to raise the two demands, i.e. the setting up of the 7th CPC and the merger of the dearness allowance with pay. It was in this background the National Council decide to project the two issues viz., wage revision and merger of DA a significally important demands, the settlement of which must not brook any delay.
The perspective and Task
The political scenario that emerged after the Parliament and assembly elections in our country was rather disappointing for the Indian working class as it brought UPA back to power and the the strength of Left parties got reduced considerabily. The UPA became free to intensify and pursue the neo-liberal policies without hindrance or hurdle. The Budgets presented by UPA during the period were to accentuate and accelerate the pace of reforms. The economy was thrown open further for transnational corporations by allowing increased percentage of FDI in all core sectors viz. Banking, Insurance and Pension. During this period we witnessed increased informalisation of work force in India. The entire house-keeping job in Govt. sector was contracted out and very many functions hitherto done by Gr. C employees were outsourced. Systematic efforts were made to reduce labour cost.
We had been successful in enlisting the participation of a large majority of Central govt. Employees in the three General Strike actions that took place during this period. For making it possible we had carried out a prolonged campaign programme to mobilize our members not only for strike action but various rallies and demonstrations held before Parliament. We could organise a days token strike on 12.12.2012 with the largest participation of Central Govt. Employees in pursuance of the 15-point Charter of Demands. It was a historic action we were emboldened to take after several months' of preparation. While we shall continue with our independent initiative of projecting and pursuing the 15-point Charter of demands we must endeavour to create a wider platform including the Railways and Defence workers. in order to enable us to take steps effectively in the direction we must make our organization strong and militant. To discharge that responsibility we must consider the following to be the immediate task to accomplished within a time frame.
1.To ensure democratic functioning at all levels i.e. National, State and District levels.
2.To modulate and streamline the functioning of the Women Sub Committee.
3.To ensure financial stability by making the affiliates to pay the dues in time.
4.To organize Trade Union education class;
5.To widen the unity of Central Government employees and formation of JCA with Railway and Defence Federations;
6.To Chalk out programmes of actions to culminate in strike action in pursuance of the 15 point charter of demands.
7.To bring out a journal for effective communication;
8.To undertake intensive campaign to popularise the 15 point charter of demands.
9.To enlarge the participation of Central Government employees in the common Trade Union struggles of the country.
10.To campaign amongst the new comers on the pernicious impact of the PFRDA bill and contributory pension scheme.
11.To organise the daily rated/Contingent/Contract workers;
12.To seek and obtain affiliation of Associations/Federations of Autonomous organization employees;
13.To organise the working women and energise the women sub- committee.
In the days to come our struggle against various manifestations of the economic policies of the govt. must be sharpened. We must be in the forefront of all actions and struggles. We must endeavour to defeat the attempts to privatise pension fund nad make PFRDA bill in to a valied inactment. The struggle against globalisation has now spread to greater part of the world and greater segments of population. As stated elsewhere in this report these struggles have brought about regime changes in lot many countries and nations. These struggles had been successful in reducing if not arresting the intensity of exploitation and the onward surge of the fundamentalism and divisive forces. People have begun to realize that the Globalisation is an instrument for brutal exploitation. The struggle against it makes transformation of society possible. We must strive hard to raise the level of consciousness of our members to bring about Confederation capable of organising such struggles. With that perspective let us work together and accomplish the tasks.
On behalf of the National executive I once again convey my greetings to all of you who are here in Kolkata to deliberate upon our issues and problems with a view to make the Confederation a militant Organisation.