AICCTU Seventh National Conference at Chennai
The 7th National Conference of AICCTU was held at Chennai (Comrade Yogeshwar Gope Nagar) on 2-4 August. Nearly 400 delegates from 18 cities and 3 Union Territories participated in the conference. A cross-section of workers of unorganized and informal sectors, representatives of coal, steel, oil, MTNL, power, private security, telecom, textiles, power-loom, automobiles, transport, brick-kilns, leather, hawkers, tea gardens, building construction, railways and corporate big industries like Pricol, Ashok Leyland, MRF, Hyundai, as well as State Government employees were present at the Conference.
The dais was named after late Comrade Palaniappan. Veteran trade union leader R N Thakur hoisted the flag and inaugurated the Conference, and all delegates, leaders and guests made floral tributes at a martyrs’ column.
CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar inaugurated a poster-exhibition highlighting the first political strike of Indian workers and the history of the working class movement, which drew a lot of appreciation.
The opening session of the Conference was addressed by Comrade Dipankar, CPI(ML) PB member Comrade D P Buxi, CCM Comrade Rajaram, guests – Kalpana Wilson of the London-based South Asia Solidarity Group (SASG), Zubran Ali Jewel, Convenor of Bangladesh textile workers association the Bangladesh Krantikari Kapda Kamgar Ekta, and Balram Khatri and Surya Mohan, National Executive members of GEFONT, Nepal, WFTU Vice President and AITUC Deputy General Secretary Comrade Mahadevan, CITU Vice President Comrade Varadarajan, TUCC leader Comrade Tiwari, and All India UTUC leader Comrade Radhakrishnan. Messages of greetings and solidarity from WFTU General Secretary George Marvarikos, John Percy, National General Secretary of Australia’s Revolutionary Socialist Party, Mashaharu Takei, President of the Japan Confederation of Railway Workers’ Unions (JRU) as well as HMS General Secretary Comrade Umraomal were presented by AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee at the session.
23 July Rally in Mumbai Marks Centenary of First Political Strike
On 23 July, to commemorate the centenary of the first political strike of the Indian working class in Bombay, 1908 against the sentencing and arrest of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, workers in Mumbai held a massive Rally. The Rally began from Charni Road Station and marched to the Tilak Statue at Girgaon Chowpatty, opposite the Maharashtra Assembly. Police permission was denied, and so workers broke Section 144 to hold the Rally. The mainstay of the Rally were workers of textile mills and their families. In Mumbai, textile mills have been closed down and the mill land being taken over by desi corporates and MNCs. Textile workers, most of them Marathi in origin, are being driven out of Mumbai. The right wing Shiv Sena – Raj Thackeray-type forces are trying to mobilise them on a xenophobic anti-migrant plank. Left unions led by the Lal Nishan Party Leninist are mobilising the retrenched textile workers and their families to demand housing and employment. Around 5000 such workers including a large number of women marched in the Rally. At Tilak’s statue, the workers took an oath to continue the movement against imperialism and its corporate agents. The main speaker were Uday Bhatt of the LNP(L) and Comrade Swapan Mukherjee of AICCTU.
In the delegate session which began on 2 August, Comrade Swapan Mukherjee presented the draft document for discussion. 3 August began with a special session on ‘Unorganised workers in the Organised Sector’, where Comrade Subhash Sen placed the political perspective. On 4 August, AIALA Vice President Comrade Pawan Sharma addressed the Conference and spoke about the struggles of agricultural labourers. On 4 August itself a special session was organised on government employees, especially on ‘Para teachers and ASHA health workers.’ Comrade Ram Bali Prasad, General Secretary, Bihar Arajapatrit Karmachari Sangh) led the discussion. The special sessions were held to lay special emphasis on exploring the scope of organizing these new sections of the working-class.
72 delegates participated in the discussion of the draft document. Since the last National Conference at Guwahati, AICCTU’s membership along with its rural proletariat membership has crossed the one million mark.
The AICCTU launched a Steel Workers Federation at a two-day Convention at Rourkela and held the founding conference of an all-India Federation of Construction Workers at Patna on the basis of 75,000 plus membership.
Before this conference AICCTU could extend its map to two important states – Orissa and Andhra Pradesh where organized trade union work has been initiated, State units of AICCTU could be elected through state conferences.
In Tamilnadu, AICCTU membership crossed one lakh before the Seventh Conference. In Jharkhand, AICCTU plans to reenergise trade union work through forming a zone comprising four districts of Chhotanagpur region.
The Chennai State Conference was marked by the warm and enthusiastic participation of a range of fraternal organisations which are working closely with AICCTU with a variety of unity initiatives. Among these were 3 unions of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM), working in the industrial belts of Bhilai, Raipur, and Rajnandgaon, which affiliated themselves to AICCTU. Comrade Bhimrao Bagade, senior CMM leader, was elected AICCTU Vice President. Leaders of the Lal Nishan Party Leninist-led Maharashtra Rajya Sarva Shramik Mahasangh, Medha Thatte and Vijay Kulkarni, participated in the Conference; in Maharashtra, they have formed a State-level Federation and plan to affiliate it to AICCTU after securing registration. Comrade Ray of the CPRM-led Darjeeling Terai Dooars Chiakaman Mazdoor Union also participated in the Conference. In Thiruvattur, Tamilnadu, workers affiliated with various unions, working in Hyundai and other MNCs have come together under the banner of Solidarity Forum; AICCTU plays a leading role in these initiatives.
The conference elected a 179-member council, a 65-member working committee and Comrade S Kumarasami was re-elected President and Comrade Swapan Mukherjee General Secretary. Comrades A Chakravarti, N M Thomas, N K Mohanty, D S Divakar, Meena Pal, Biren Kalita, Ranjan Ganguly, Shyam Lal Prasad, Tarsem Jodhan, Bahadur Oraon, Bhim Rao Bagade, Medha Thatte, V Shankar, S K Sharma and Hari Singh were elected Vice Presidents; Comrades Uday Bhatt, Balasubramanium, N K Natarajan, Subhash Sen, R N Thakur, Basudev Bose, Santosh Rai, Shubhendu Sen, Ravi Sen, Brijendra Tiwari and Bhuvaneshwari (in-charge, Women’s Cell) as Secretaries; Comrade Rajiv Dimri as Office Secretary and Treasurer; and Comrade Pradip Jha as Propaganda Secretary.