8th National Conference of AICCTU Held At Bhilai
The 8th National Conference of AICCTU was held at Bhilai from 11-13 November, 2011. Bhilai, rechristened Shankar Guha Niyogi Nagar on the occasion of the Conference, wore a festive look with streets and major centres festooned with red flags and banners. The Conference venue was named after Daras Ram Sahu, another martyr of the workers’ and peasants’ movement of the state. Worker delegates from all over the country – from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, W Bengal, Odisha, Delhi, Assam, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh , Bihar, Jharkhand and other states - gathered at Bhilai to attend the Conference.
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. (Text of speech below).
Sushila Bai, wife of Shaheed Comrade Daras Ram Sahu, was felicitated by Comrade Swapan Mukherjee. 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 Bhattacharya, 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 Debroye, 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 Debroye, 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. (Excerpts from the speech below).
The AIUTUC sent a solidarity message to the Conference. Solidarity messages were also received from several international groups (excerpts from some of the messages below).
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 General Secretary Report: 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 Rana, representing the All India Health Employees and Workers’ Confederation, was also present.
Comrade Ram Naresh Singh, National Executive Committee Member of the Nepal Trade Union Centre GEFONT; Comrade Om Prasad Wagle, 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 said students should unite with workers’ struggles, and spoke of 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 GS report. Following this, the Conference unanimously adopted the draft document after incorporating several amendments. The Conference elected a 226-member National Council, a 83-member Central Working Committee and 41 national office bearers, 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. Comrade Rajaram, Central Committee, CPI(ML), Comrade Kumarsamy, President, AICCTU, and Comrade Bhimrao Bagde of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha graced the dais.
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.