AICCTU – New Expansion, Special Initiatives
Since its last (6th) national conference held in Guwahati in 2005, AICCTU has made considerable expansion throughout the country particularly among unorganised sector workers including contract/casual workers employed in organised sector. The most notable feature of this expansion is that vanguard workers of organised sector have played a leading role in organising this vast mass of new and militant workforce, which is growing every day. Moreover, with worker’s leaders like Tarsem Jodhan, presently Vice President of AICCTU (formerly CITU leader and CPM MLA from Punjab) joining our movement, and with a section of Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha under the leadership of Bhimrao Bagde coming closer, AICCTU has got further boost in reaching to the unorganised sector and factory workers. Let us take a look at the new expansion and some of the initiatives taken:
Karnataka: Our intervention in the struggle of and constant interaction with the workers of a highly modern, corporate construction company, RMC Readymix India Private Ltd. (Bangalore unit) helped us to win over them into our affiliated union Karnataka General Labour Union. Here the workers were formerly affiliated to CITU. The workers working here are a heterogeneous group of multilingual, literate, young, cosmopolitans representing the modern workforce and hailing from different parts of the country. Readymix has 35 plants all over India and has plans to expand it to 150 in the near future. The Union with the support of AICCTU had successfully launched an agitation against the management compelling them to come to an agreement. Although the workers a enjoy slightly better situation in RMC regarding regularisation of service, yet the number of contractual workers are nearly equal to the permanent staff and they have neither the minimum stipulated wage nor other allied benefits.
The Karnataka govt. has recently released the draft rules for the construction welfare board in the state and AICCTU has prepared a criticism of the same and launched a campaign seeking revision. The most notable feature of organising the construction workers here was that the workers from RMC gave direct leadership to the campaign among the construction workers - enrolling more than 1000 members in a few weeks.
AICCTU had successfully launched an agitation of the Auto technicians at Gangavati area of Koppal district on the demand of land for residence & work and had compelled the govt. to release 30 acres of land. Now AICCTU has more than 400 members among the auto technicians.
AICCTU had led a successful struggle (with the help of Auto Technicians) to ensure the minimum wage and other benefits for the tractor drivers in this area and now we have a union among them. AICCTU had launched another Lorry Drivers & Helpers’ Union with the help of auto technicians. These apart, AICCTU launched another union among the carpenters in the name of Democratic Carpenters’ Welfare Association in the process of organising construction workers.
Construction sector: AICCTU’s work among the construction workers has taken an All-India shape. From Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab (particularly brick kiln workers) and Assam (including Karbi Anglong) to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Pondicherry, workers have joined AICCTU.
In Bihar, with work spread in 10 districts, AICCTU led a successful campaign compelling the Bihar govt. to notify the ‘Bihar Building and other Construction Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act 2005’ and AICCTU’s representative was incorporated in the Construction Welfare Board and Construction Advisory Board. In Rajasthan.too, AICCTU has played a significant role in the forcing the govt. to begin the implementation of the Central Act for the construction workers. Significant expansion of work among the construction workers was seen in Delhi. AICCTU had successfully launched an agitation against the repression of migrant workers in Ludhiana and compelled the administration to withdraw the false cases against them.
In Tamil Nadu, where work is spread in 21 districts, AICCTU led an agitation compelling the govt. to pay Rs. 300 as pension to the construction workers. Similarly in Pondicherry, a successful struggle was launched on the issue of 4-months Bonus to the construction workers. In Assam, AICCTU has expanded its work in 5 districts. In Jharkhand and U.P our work is mainly concentrated respectively in Ranchi and Lucknow. In view of this expansion, AICCTU has decided to launch an all India federation of construction workers.
Beedi Workers: Significant expansion of AICCTU among the Beedi workers was noticed in West Bengal, Bihar & new expansion in Andhra Pradesh. AICCTU has a plan to organise a state level conference of the Beedi workers in West Bengal in order to launch a state level Beedi Mazdoor Federation.
Tea Gardens: Assam and West Bengal are our two significant areas of work among the Tea garden workers. In Assam, spread over 61 tea gardens our base is second largest after INTUC with a specially strong base in nearly 15-20 tea gardens. At present we are concentrating here for industry level recognition in tea. Recently in the case of a lockout and owner abandoning the tea garden, we launched a successful struggle forcing the administration to open that tea garden.
Steel: The National Steel Workers Federation was launched on 29 October 2006 at Rourkela in Orissa. Workers from Rourkela, Bhilai and Bokaro Steel Plants had joined this inaugural convention. Now AICCTU plans to expand its work in Durgapur, Burnpur and Vizag.
Coal: AICCTU has its main base in Hazaribagh and Dhanbad areas of Jharkhand. Here AICCTU is going to organise its sectoral union CMWU conference on 23-24 December 2006 in Dhanbad. AICCTU also has made some new expansion in SECL at Chattisgarh and Sigreni mines of Andhra Pradesh.
Government Employees: AICCTU has taken a big initiative to organise the Government employees, organising an All India Convention on 24 September 2005 at Patna and launching a National Campaign Committee. AICCTU has also successfully organised the casual and contractual teachers at Jharkhand and Bihar.
Assam: Apart from Tea, AICCTU has made a significant and new expansion among Rickshaw-Thela pullers in Silchar District and among the contractual workers at Air Force Station. AICCTU has made significant expansion among contract/casual workers in Oil sector and on the other hand also among the household women workers here.
Maharashtra: The close ally of AICCTU, Maharashtra Rajya Sarva Shramik Mahasangh had organised a successful struggle (ongoing) at Century Textile Mill owned by Birla against the closure and sell-out of the mill land and compelled the management to run the mill without any retrenchment of the workers. AICCTU also has a significant presence among the sugar mill workers, household workers and security workers.
Tamil Nadu: An expansion was noticed among the workers in the Power loom sector, Garment industry and other allied ones, particularly in Coimbatore, Erod, Namakal, Salem, Karur and Thirupur districts.
West Bengal: The AICCTU initiatives against the black agreement between the Bengal govt., Jute mill owners and some Central TU’s including CITU, INTUC and AITUC to make its expansion visible and the successful jute workers convention on 24 November is another achievement in this direction. The initiatives among Hosiery Workers, Rickshaw Pullers, Motia Mazdoor has also increased its strength in the state.
Uttar Pradesh: The initiative in the power sector, particularly in Anpara C on the issue of privatisation was a significant one and the struggle helped us forming a new union among the power sector workers. AICCTU also has through its intervention made a significant presence among the Leather Workers at Unnao.
Gujarat: A new expansion is seen among the Daily Wage Workers employed in Forest, PWD & Panchayat projects. Another significant development was the formation of a union in an Ambuja group owned factory and new expansion among ceramic industry workers in Sabarkantha district.
Rajiv Dimri/Ardhendu Roy