AITUC (All India Trade Union Congress) had its 41st national conference in Coimbatore from 25-29 February. While expressing solidarity with student struggles in various universities, the conference gave out a call for a united working class fight against the two-pronged attack of the government – the first a neoliberal onslaught, and second an attack of communal forces. The conference passed 28 resolutions covering a wide range of issues which included price rise, labour law amendments, resolving issues related to domestic workers and other issues related to various sectoral workers. The happenings of the conference are reported here as shared with us by AITUC National Secretary Vahidha Nizam.
The inaugural address was delivered by Comrade George Mavrikos, general Secretary of World Federation of Trade Unions, head-quartered at Athens. In this address, he emphasized that the struggles of the working class in India, were part of the global struggle against capitalist aggression. He said that with the current economic recession, unlike previous recessions, there was no recovery in sight. The recession is a result of a crisis in capitalism and thus presents a historic opportunity for the working class to bring down capitalism. He pointed out that in recent years, the working class have repeatedly come together with renewed vigour to struggle against capitalist oppression, some examples being the struggle against austerity in Greece (in which PAME, the largest trade Union federation in Greece, played a vital role), the protests in Paris against pension reform, the Arab spring etc. Comrade Mavrikos extended full support to the United Central Trade Unions protest planned for March 10th. Comrade Mavrikos’s address was followed by a welcome address by D. Pandian, Chair of Reception, Coimbatore. Representatives of various central trade unions were present in the congress: Sanjeev Reddy of INTUC, A R Padmanabhan of CITU, Comrade Shanmugam of LPF, Sonia Georege from SEWA and also members of AICCTU. The importance of a united trade union movement was repeatedly emphasized.
The conference was inaugurated by General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta and presided by National President Ramendra Kumar. In his address, Comrade Gurudas Dasgupta reported about the current political and economic scenario in India. He said that the current NDA government has speeded up the neoliberal agenda by proposing pro-corporate labour reforms, seeking banking sector reform and trying to increase FDI in insurance sector. The government policies have put the Indian economy on a path of jobless growth, with both manufacturing and agricultural sectors doing badly. The trade unions are fighting this onslaught together. BMS, which was not part of a one-day strike Central trade Union strike on 2nd September 2015, will now be part of the central trade union protest on 10th March. So far, the nationalized banking sector in India has protected the Indian economy from international economic crisis, but the banking sector reforms being proposed by the government move nationalized banks towards privatization. He took serious note of ongoing communal onslaught and casteist polarization, and dwelt at length about the incidents in FTII, JNU, the suicide of Rohith Vemula and APSC in IIT Madras. Together, these indicate an orchestrated effort by BJP and RSS, with Modi at the helm. He also took note of the alienation faced by the Muslim community. It was emphasized that the working class has to unite this fascist communal agenda.
On the sidelines of the conference, there were meetings of various unions – of bidi workers, construction workers, anganwadi workers, ASHA workers etc. The Congress gave out a call to make the March 10th protest a success, and work towards unity of working class and trade unions, which is a pre-requisite of change in society. The resolutions can be seen below.