Fifth National Conference of AICCTU

THE FIFTH National Conference of AICCTU was successfully completed in Dhanbad in Jharkhand State form 8th to 10th October 2001. On 8th October, CPI(ML) and AICCTU, Jharkhand organized a massive rally, named ‘Mazdoor Ekta Rally’ (Workers’ Solidarity Rally). On 7th night, as USA started bombing Afghanistan the rallyists reaching Dhanbad started raising anti-war slogans. The rallyists carrying red and green flags of AICCTU and JHAMKIS (Jharkhand Mazdoor Kisan Samiti) carrying drums and traditional tribal weapons became one of the biggest rallies here in the last two decades. The media, though preoccupied with the US bombing, gave wide coverage to the rally. After covering a distance of more than 3 Kms., the rally converged into a mass meeting at the Kohinoor ground. The meeting started with revolutionary song rendered by a Jharkhand cultural team. While the song was going on rain started. But despite heavy downpour, the people didn’t moved from the ground and the meeting went on in the rain. This became the talking point among the people and media also highlighted the fighting spirit and commitment of the people. The main speaker Com. Dipankar who also led the rally from Dhanbad Station to Kohinoor ground. Among others, Com. Mahendra Singh, CPI (ML) MLA, Com. Swapan Mukherjee, General Secretary, AICCTU, Com. Upendra Singh, General Secretary of Coal Mines Workers’ Union (CMWU) and Com. Rameshwar Prasad, leader of Agricultural Labour Union from Bihar.

The next day, i.e. 9th October, the 5th National Conference began at Com. Jagdeo Sharma Hall (Town Hall) with the hoisting of red flag by Com. Yogeshwar Gope, President of AICCTU. The Comrades also paid floral tributes at the martyrs’ memorial.

The open session was inaugurated with the speech of Com. S. Kumarsamy, Working President that set the tone of the session. Next, the guest from GEFONT, Nepal, Com. Madhav Neopane, higlighted the need for militant unity among trade unions in South Asia in the face of growing imprialist onslaught in the region. A solidarity message from DSP, Australia was also read out. Fraternal guests from central trade unions, Com. Kanhai Banerjee, Secretary CITU, Com. S.M. Thakur, Secretary AITUC and a representative from TUCC, spoke highlighting the need for united action against the imperialist-dictated globalisation and the imperialist-led war. The other speakers in this session were Com. C.M. Singh, Gen. Secy. AIREC, Com. Rabi Sen, Gen. Secy. of the Indian Railway Artisan Staff Union (IRASU), Com. Basudev Mahto, Gen. Secy. of the Railway Engineering Staff, and Com. Tripti Trivedi, Gen. Secy All India Central Govt. Health Scheme Employees’ Association. Com. S. Mahadevaiah, Gen. Secy. of the union of all India postal Extra Departmental (ED) staff, Com. S.K. Vyas, General Secretary All India Central Govt. Employees Confederation and Com. Purnendu Ghosh, leader of Jute workers also sent solidarity messages.

The delegate session started in the afternoon. The house elected a 9-member Presidium consisted of Com. Yogeshwar Gope, Com. S. Kumarasamy, Com. Srilatha Swaminathan, Com. Meena Pal, Com. Sudarshan Bose, Com. N.M. Thomas, Com. Subhas Sen, Com. Upendra Singh, and Com. Sadashivan (from Andman & Nicobar Islands). A 5-member technical Committee of Comrades Pradeep Jha, Atanu Chakraborty, V.K.S. Gautam, Dinkar Kapoor and Himmat Singh was formed to assist the presidium. On behalf of the outgoing National Council, Com. Swapan Mukherjee formally placed the General Secretary’s report for discussion. About 100 delegates participated in the discussion and also many delegates sent in their written suggestions.

On 10th October, the session started with a speech by Com. D.P. Buxi, Polit Bureau member of CPI (ML) and incharge of Jharkhand region. The delegate session continued after that. Com. N.M. Banerjee, AGS of the South Eastern Railwaymen Union (SERMU) also greeted the conference and gave valuable suggestions. The main points of debate that emerged in the delegate session were: (1) the question of united action with BMS and INTUC, and Shiv Sena’s union in Maharashtra who started participating in some of the joint movements in recent times; (2) work in sick and closed industries in terms of evolving new forms of movements, mobilising the people and the level of flexibility on the question of VRS etc. Also our attitude towards govt. doing away with SICA and coming up with new tribunals; (3) review of solidarity actions in the light of the BALCO strike; (4) changing composition of Indian working class with concrete experiences in organizing contract workers within the mainstream organized sectors, and other unorganized sectors, particularly women workers; (5) trade union democracy, politicisation of working class and grassroots initiatives; and (6) strengthening the central structures including office and their more effective functioning. After long and lively discussions, Com. Swapan Mukherjee summed up the discussion stressing the need for taking timely initiative on immediate issues so that the workers under the influence of reformist and yellow trade unions could be won over. “Another challenge is to organize the workers under our influence”, he said. Only by increasing our base and evolving new forms of movements can we play a more effective role in the ongoing movements, he said. Then with some additions, the Gen. Secy.’s report was passed unanimously. After that the political resolutions were placed by Com. Srilatha Swaminathan, and approved by the house. The main resolutions were to observe 15th October as anti-war day throughout the country, immediate introduction of agriculture labour bill, implementation of construction labour act, against closure of fertilizer plant of Sindri, HSCL, IISCO, proposed privatisation of Coal India, against the proposed amendment to the Industrial Disputes Act and Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, opposing Rakesh Mohan, Geethakrishnan and Ahluwalia Committee reports, strict implementation of Supreme Court guidelines on sexual harassment at workplace and equal remuneration act as well as opposing the industrial policy of Jharkhand Govt. Then the process of election of national council started and the conference elected a 123-member national council. In the brief session of the newly elected National Council, a 39-member Central Working Committee and 19 office bearers were elected. The newly elected Working President Com. S. Kumarasamy honoured more than 100 volunteers whose silent hard work contributed to the success of the Conference. At the end, the Jharkhand Cultural Organisation rendered the ‘Internationale’ and amidst slogans the 5th National Conference came to an end.

In the Conference, 468 delegates and 77 observers participated from 18 States. The major sectors like steel, coal, oil, textile, jute, tea, cement, transport, automobile, centre and state govt. employees and the unorganised sectors like bidi, construction, powerloom, small scale industrial sectors, loading-unloading workers, hawkers, agriculture labourers, workers from stone crushers and brick-kilns — industries covering major sections of Indian working class participating in the conference. Another major highlight was the participation of the Maharashtra-based trade unions associated with the Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) in this conference. This trade union has got large mass base in Maharashtra. Also, new forces working in the Eastern Coalfields (Bengal part) joined AICCTU in this conference. In the intensive campaign before the conference, the AICCTU could cross the membership target. Jharkhand, Bengal, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Assam played a leading role in achieving the membership target. It may be recalled that the process of formation of AICCTU was started in Dhanbad 12 years ago. The 5th Conference of AICCTU reiterated its commitment to march onward with new vigour and zeal to take on the forces bent on enslaving our motherland again

– Himmat Singh