A Report of the All-India Workshop of Organised Sector Workers

— Shankar

T HE ALL-INDIA Workshop of organized sector workers held at Patna on 10-11 December 2003 marked a new beginning in the effort to counter the renewed onslaughts of capital and to devise strategies for an independent political assertion of the working class in the era of globalisation and liberalization.

The workshop was inaugurated by Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, the General Secretary of CPI(ML). A three member presidium comprising DP Bakshi, Swapan Mukherjee and S Kumaraswamy conducted the proceedings while Pradeep Jha, Editor of ‘Shramik Solidarity’ welcomed the gathering.,

In his inaugural speech Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the organized sector was facing organized onslaughts of the government’s pro-imperialist neo-liberal policies; what is needed is organized resistance against it. The workshop must explore how to unleash the full initiative of CPI(ML) in this fight both as a communist party and vanguard of the working class. For this, the paradox between ours being a revolutionary party and at the same time being compelled to work as a peripheral fraction within social-democratic, reformist trade unions in the organized sector must be resolved. B Sivaraman presented a background paper on the “Impact of Globalisation on Organised Working Class in India” that equipped the participants with facts and figures to counter the myth of globalisation being spread by the ruling class and the government. Arindam Sen presented a paper on “Empire, Imperialism and the Proletariat” (see extracts of the paper under the title “Global Capitalism and the Proletariat in the 21st century” in this issue).

Around 60 delegates representing various sectors and regions in the country participated in the workshop. Participants shared the experiences of the government’s drive for disinvestments, privatization and downsizing and the workers struggles. The workshop underscored the importance of organized sector workers, in spite of all its weaknesses and limitations, as the core of working class movement in the country. The working class movement is facing a dichotomy between the dominant left trend in trade union movement and the crisis of the dominant left leadership. The dominant left trend in the trade union movement offers us tremendous scope for establishing a revolutionary left leadership over the movement.

The workshop also clarified certain conceptual questions. a) The real issue is not to construct a Chinese wall between economic and political struggles but to develop a political rather than economic approach to class issues. b) It is true that capturing political power is not the task of trade unions but of communist parties. But, whether trade unions can play an enhanced socio-political role or not is the important question, which is being missed by many. c) Whether a trade union can make a retreat or a compromise is not the real issue. The main issue is whether the retreat is justified, whether the compromise is a revolutionary one in the interests of workers or not.

The workshop also identified the categories of demands that will form part of the ‘Charter of Demands’ of the working class. The first category of demands will include exclusive issues of trade unions and the second category will include issues of trade union rights while the third category will include issues of Rights, Dignity and Security of agrarian labour and the unorganized sector workers. This charter is part of a larger agenda of the struggle for democracy and against saffron fascism. The workshop decided to organize a convention soon to give a final shape to the charter and agenda of the working class and to decide a course of action.

A Convention was also organized on the second day which was addressed by Swapan Mukherjee, RAP Singh, Bihar State Government Employees Union leaders and Pradeep Jha. The convention also passed resolutions concerning organized sector.