A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 47, 15 – 21 NOVEMBER 2011
No Bailouts And Back-Door Aid for Corporations!
Mallya, known for his luxurious lifestyle, flaunts his yachts, jets, private islands, villas in several countries, an IPL cricket team and a Formula One racing team. Why should a government which says it cannot afford to feed all its hungry mouths, consider bailing out a tycoon with so many assets? Why can't Mallya sell some of his other assets to keep Kingfisher in the air?
Realising that it can ill afford the political embarrassment of justifying a bailout package to Mallya, the UPA Government has shifted its stance. Mallya now claims he never asked for a bailout and Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi has said that no bailout was offered. But the facts indicate otherwise.
Kingfisher owes hundreds of crores worth in debts to airports and public sector banks and oil companies. Some months back, the banks went into a debt-restructuring agreement facilitated by the RBI, with Kingfisher's debts being turned into equity. This is nothing but a bailout by another name. Now, once again, debt-restructuring packages are being discussed. All this means that a private corporations, in lieu of paying the debts it owes to the public sector, is shifting the burden of that debt onto the shoulders of public depositors!
Meanwhile, in his speech at the opening session of the annual India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Reliance Industries CEO Mukesh Ambani expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of 'reforms' being pushed by the Government. Noting that the private corporations and the Government share the same goal, he lamented that the latter was being held back by the compulsions of 'democracy.' Other CEOs at Summit echoed this lament, saying that corruption becoming a political issue had resulted in a 'policy paralysis' on part of the Government. In particular, the CEOs asked for policy changes that would make land acquisition and environmental clearances faster.
Clearly, Ambani and other Indian corporations feel that democracy – including public protests against corruption, corporate plunder, land grab and environmental destruction – is an inconvenience. And they expect the Government and the Opposition parties to evolve a 'consensus' and speed ahead with unpopular policy changes, environmental clearances and so on, heedless of people's protests!
All along, the Governments and ruling class Oppositions have been acting in line with Ambani's recommendations. The Radia tapes revealed how both the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP cooperated to ensure huge benefits to Mukesh Ambani himself. The fact that Mallya is now unable to openly secure a bailout, and Ambani and other CEOs are worried about democracy resulting in a policy slowdown, is a tribute to the popular protests against corruption, corporate grab of land and resources, and the international climate against corporate bailouts at public costs. What the corporations are demanding is the right to plunder, untrammelled by 'democracy' – and it will take an intensification of people's resistance to prevent Governments from obliging them.
8th National Conference of AICCTU Held At Bhilai
The Conference was inaugurated with the hoisting of the red flag by veteran leader Comrade G Radhakrishnan, and workers and leaders of the international and national working class movement paid floral tributes to the martyrs of workers' struggles. The inaugural session of the Conference began with a welcome address by Comrade S Kumarasamy, National President of the AICCTU.
Next, the conference guests – Comrade Osiris Oviedo De La Torre, Secretariat member of World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and WFTU Permanent Representative in Geneva; Comrade Dipankar Bhatacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML); Comrades Om Prasad Wagle and Khadga Bahadur Tamang, members of the National Congress Organising Committee, All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF); Comrades Ram Naresh Singh, National Executive Committee Member and Dibya Sapkota, Janakpur Zonal Committee Member, GEFONT (Nepal); Comrade Mahbubul Alam, Vice President of Bangladesh Trade Union Centre; Comrade H Mahadevan, Deputy General Secretary, AITUC; Comrade Swadesh Debroy, National Secretary, CITU; and Comrade Ashok Wankar, Central Working Committee member, TUCC were felicitated.
WFTU leader, Comrade Osiris Oviedo from Cuba, gave a rousing greeting to the Conference, on behalf of the international working class movement. She spoke about the huge revival of workers' struggles all over the world – against economic policies peddled by World Bank and IMF, wars, price rise, unemployment, insecure and ill-paid jobs, and curtailment of the democratic rights of workers. She said the WFTU is committed to building a working class resistance to capitalism and imperialism. She said that the example of her homeland- Cuba – showed how even a small country which takes the revolutionary path can put up a brave and successful resistance to US imperialist repression. She ended her speech with rousing slogans in Hindi - 'Inquilab Zindabad!' (Long Live Revolution) and 'Duniya ke mazdooron ek ho' (Workers of the World Unite).
Comrade Mahadevan, Deputy General Secretary, AITUC; Comrade Swadesh Debroy, National Secretary, CITU; Comrade Ashok Wankar, Central Working Committee member, TUCC also addressed the Inaugural Session, expressing hope for and commitment to a united working class resistance to anti-people policies in the country.
The concluding speech in the inaugural session was by CPI(ML) General Secretary, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. Comrade Dipankar said that internationally as well as in the country, the iron is hot, and the working class is ready to strike. He said, "Twenty years ago, when AICCTU was formed, the US was being presented as a model for India, the victory of capitalism was being proclaimed and new economic policies of privatization and liberalization and globalisation were being imposed on India. Now, the mood has changed. In the same US, as well as in Europe, Arab world, and Latin America, people are on the streets challenging globalization and capitalism. In India also, people are on the streets against the corruption and price rise that is the product of the liberalisation policies. Advani's rath yatra had resulted in huge riots twenty years ago – this time, Advani's rath has been a damp squib and has no appeal. People want real change; they want an alternative to the Congress-UPA and BJP-NDA – and only working class assertion can create a true alternative."
Comrade Dipankar said that Chhattisgarh today had become notorious for the repressive Salwa Judum, Operation Green Hunt and arrest of internationally respected doctor and human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen. But today, the workers' movement in the state must unite with the adivasis' struggles against land grab, and human rights' movement in the state to assert that they want a Chhattisgarh of Daras Ram Sahu and Shankar Guha Niyogi – not the Chhattisgarh of state repression and workers' exploitation.
Comrade Dipankar called for the AICCTU to take up the challenge of uniting and organizing the newly emerging forces among workers – among women, contract workers, unorganized workers, workers in factories like Maruti – and inspiring the struggles of these workers with communist consciousness and direction. He also called for the need of workers to unite with struggles of peasants, women, and other people's movements.
The AIUTUC sent a solidarity message to the Conference. Solidarity messages were also received from several international groups, including PAME—All Workers' Militant Front, Greece; Secretary General of GEFONT, Com. Umesh Upadhyaya; JRU (Japan Confederation of Railway Workers' Union); GFTU—Pakistan (General Federation of Trade Unions); APFUTU (All Pakistan Federation of United Trade Unions); KASBI (Indonesia)—South Asia Solidarity Group, U. K; IWAGB (Indian Workers' Association, Great Britain) General Secretary A. S. Jouhal; Oliver New, President of RMT and Vice President of London Transport Regional Council; Ealing Trades Union Council, London—Secretary Eve Turner; ZENROREN—Japan; GUPW (General Union of Palestine Workers); SWTUF (Sudan Workers Trade Union Federation); Jatio Shromik Jote (Bangladesh); All Ceylon Trade Union Federation; and CGT, France.
The delegate session began in the evening of 11 November and continued till noon on 13 November. Conference delegates from among construction workers, transport workers, textile workers, women health and domestic workers, sanitation workers, factory workers, coal workers, rail workers, unorganized sector workers including street vendors, rickshaw pullers, and workers of many other sectors discussed the draft document: the political situation and economic policies in the country, and their impact on workers, and the way ahead to build a powerful working class resistance in the country.
Leaders from CTU Punjab, Maharashtra Rajya Sarva Shramik Mahasangh, Darjeeling Terai Dooars Chia Kaman Mazdoor Union, Darjeeling Terai Dooars Staff and Sub-staff Association participated in the discussion and addressed the delegate session.
Comrade Ram Naresh Singh, National Executive Committee Member of the Nepal trade union centre GEFONT; Comrade Khadga Bahadur Tamang, member of the National Congress Organising Committee, All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF) and Comrade Mahbubul Alam, Vice President of Bangladesh Trade Union Centre addressed the conference.
The Conference was also addressed by Rajaram Singh, National General Secretary of the All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) and Rameshwar Prasad, National President of the All India Agricultural Workers' Association (AIALA). They spoke of the need for workers' unity with struggles of peasants resisting corporate land grab. They also spoke of the struggles of agricultural workers for housing, wages and rights.
The Conference was also addressed by Sandeep Singh, National President of All India Students' Association (AISA) and Ravi Rai, National General Secretary of AISA. They spoke of students' struggles for the right to elect student unions, and said students should unite with the struggles of workers who were fighting for their right to form unions. They described the experience of students who visited the struggles of Maruti workers recently.
Chaitali Sen and Kavita Krishnan, National Secretaries of All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) also addressed the Conference. They spoke of AIPWA's and AICCTU's experience of organizing the new contingent of thousands of women workers in ASHA, anganwadi, mid-day meal services. These women workers are severely exploited, over-worked and ill-paid by the Government which only pays them a very pitiful honorarium for their services. Women workers in other sectors are also denied equal pay and equal opportunities.
On the third and concluding day, Comrade Swapan Mukherjee summed up the discussion on the draft document. Following this, the Conference unanimously adopted the draft document after incorporating several amendments. The Conference elected a 225-member National Council, 41 national office bearers, and a 82-member Central Working Committee, and reelected Comrade S Kumarasamy as President and Comrade Swapan Mukherjee as General Secretary. The Conference also resolved to affiliate AICCTU to the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU).
Hundreds of workers from all over Chhattisgarh marched from JP Chowk, Sector 6 to Daras Ram Sahu Hall to join the mass meeting at the concluding session of the Conference on 13 November. The concluding mass meeting was addressed by CPI(ML) MLA from Jharkhand Comrade Vinod Singh – the lone MLA to make the voices of workers heard within the Jharkhand assembly. Comrade Vinod spoke of workers' struggles in states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, where big private corporations were given a free hand to indulge in exploitation of natural resources as well as labour, and workers are subjected to severe repression. He called for workers to resist this corporate plunder and unite and organize to resist the exploitative conditions of work. The mass meeting was addressed by Comrade Bhimrao Bagde of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, who spoke of struggles of workers in the state.
The main speaker at the concluding public meeting was Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of the CPI(ML). Addressing the gathered workers of Chhattisgarh, Comrade Dipankar congratulated them for making the 8th National Conference of AICCTU a huge success. He called for the need for a resurgence of the Left in Chhattisgarh to resist the BJP Government's assaults on workers' and tribals' rights and struggle for democratic rights.
The Conference ended with enthusiastic slogans by workers hailing the successful conclusion of the Conference and calling for a powerful assertion of the working class movement in the country.
AISA's March in Lucknow University to Protest Fee Hike and Police Brutality
The fee for improvement and Bank Paper examination has been drastically hiked – from Rs.500 to Rs. 1200 – in Lucknow University. A delegation of students under AISA's leadership had met the Vice Chancellor twice demanding rollback and had also given him memorandums. But the VC declined even a review of the anti-student decisions.
Infuriated at such insensitiveness of the University administration the students led by All India Students' Association (AISA) took out a march in the campus on 8th November. The Proctor stopped the marching students and called the police. The SHO of the University Police Station threatened the students of dire consequences. However, the students continued with their protest march. Afterwards, when the students were returning after the protest the Thana incharge Janardan Singh caught hold of AISA's University Unit Convenor and a State Committee member Sudhanshu Vajpayee and started raining severe blows on him with a lathi (cane). Separately, an SFI student leader was also badly assaulted by him the same day. AISA and SFI are both involved in the anti-fee hike struggle. Both the student leaders were also arrested and slapped with fabricated charges.
The students assembled in large number next day at the University Gate to condemn the police brutality. AISA also observed 9 November as State-wide protest day. CPI(ML) and other organisations have strongly condemned the police atrocity. Apart from AISA, several other student organisations jointly held a meeting and took unanimous decision to demand rollback of fees, immediate suspension of the Thana incharge, resignation of the Proctor, and stopping entry of the police in the campus. The student organisations have said that the agitation will not cease until justice is done.
Militant March of Aanganbadi Workers at Dehradun
Aanganbadi workers (who are generally women) from all over Uttarakhand organised under the banner of Uttarakhand Aanganbadi Karmachari Union (affiliated to AICCTU) descended on State Capital Dehradun on 4 November and marched to CM's residence to demand that the Govt introduce an Act in the State Assembly to grant them the status of State Govt employee. This is one of the several demands. They declared that their agitation will not stop until they get proper salaries in place of honorariums. Carrying red flags in their hands, they also raised slogans against the State Govt.
A strongly fortified police barricade at Badkala before the CM's residence prevented their march. They began a meeting there that went on for four and a half hours. There was push and shove also with the police force as the women were firm on their intent of an audience with the CM. The City Magistrate and Tehsildar reached there to receive their memorandum, but they were not entertained. Sensing the militant mood of the agitating women the police started arresting them. All were arrested and later released at Parade Ground.
The mass meeting was addressed among others by AICCTU's State President Comrade Nishan Singh who said that rampant violation of the rights of Aanganbadi workers will not be tolerated. The Sixth Pay Commission has clearly established the pay scale at Rs. 11,000, of workers who are receiving honorariums and wages. Labour laws are being violated with impunity in the State. All parties in the State Assembly – BJP, Congress, BSP and UKD are shamefully silent on the issues of Aanganbadi workers.
Bhagwati Gosain, AICCTU's Almora dist Convenor conducted the mass meeting. The meeting was also addressed by Comrades Kailash Pandey (AICCTU's State Treasurer), Madhavi Rawat (Bageshwar dist President of Aanganbadi Union), Sharmila Vohra (Champawat), Munni Shahi (Dist. Secretary of Bageshwar), Manju Joshi, Usha Joshi, Saroj Mauni (President from Tanakpur), Bimla Joshi, Bimla Rawal, Mina Karki, Madhubala Gosain, Kavita Bhatt, Kavita Joshi, Heera Bahtt, Anita Kanyal, AIKM's State Vice President Indresh Maikhuri, AIKM's State Secretary Jagat Martoliya, Surendra Brijwal and AISA's Hemant Khati.
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.cpiml.org