Unite to defeat the anti-social and anti-national program of privatisation and liberalisation!
An attack on one is an attack on all!
Call of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, 12th September, 2019
The central trade unions and the federations of workers in different sectors have issued a call for a National Workers’ Convention to be held in New Delhi on 30th September, 2019. To be held on Parliament Street, this convention is aimed at charting the future course of action of the working class.
The Communist Ghadar Party of India calls on all organisations of the working class in all sectors of the economy to participate actively in this convention and contribute to charting the course of action for the working class.
This convention is taking place at a time when the Indian economy is sinking into a deep crisis. Faced with declining sales and unsold stocks, the capitalist class is cutting back on production and throwing workers out of jobs. Lakhs of workers in different sectors including auto and auto component sectors, construction, garment exports, leather exports, telecom and IT sectors have lost their jobs. The growth of online retail trade, dominated by global monopolies, is wiping out lakhs of small traders and shopkeepers and further expanding the army of the unemployed. Unemployment has reached its highest level in 45 years.
The resistance struggle of workers mounts
Workers of different sections of the economy have stepped up their resistance struggle against the privatisation program and the attacks on their livelihood and rights. Below we highlight some of these ongoing struggles.
Railways: Rail workers all over the country are agitating against the “100 day action plan” of the government for the corporatisation and privatisation of the Indian railways. Workers of the diesel and electric loco manufacturing plants and coach manufacturing plants have demanded that government immediately withdraw its decision to hand over these factories to Indian and foreign capitalist monopolies. The Kamgar Ekta Committee together with All India Loco Running Staff Association, All India Guards Council, All India Station Masters Association, All India Tracks Maintainers Association and other unions of workers of the Indian Railways have been organising the joint resistance of rail workers unions and passenger associations to the rail privatisation program.
Defense Sector: The government announced that it would corporatise the ordinance factories. Over 82,000 workers of 41 government owned ordinance factories manufacturing arms for the Indian Armed Forces launched a strike on August 20 against this decision. Pointing out that corporatisation was a prelude to handing over the strategic defense sector to Indian and foreign capitalist monopolies, workers demanded that the government immediately take back its decision. In the face of the resistance of the workers, the government has temporarily stayed its decision to corporatize ordinance factories and appointed a committee to look into the matter. Following this development, ordinance factory workers have withdrawn their strike.
Merger of Banks: The announcement of the government that ten public sector banks would be merged creating 4 larger entities has been met by widespread protests from bank workers. The United Forum of Bank workers representing nearly 10 lakh bank workers has spearheaded the protests. Bank workers have pointed out that the aim of the mergers is to increase the degree of exploitation of workers, by closing down branches and throwing out workers. Previous mergers have resulted in thousands of branches, particularly in rural areas, being closed down in the name of cutting costs. Thus the merger of five associated banks with State Bank of India resulted in 1000 branches being closed down.
Bank workers are pointing out that the problems faced by Public Sector Banks are due to the massive defaults by big corporates carried out with the connivance of successive governments. Bank workers demanded that the government recover the dues from the defaulters. Instead the government was legitimising the loot of the banks by these corporate defaulters and writing off most of it, through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code procedure.
Auto Sector: Workers in the auto industry in the Sri Perambadur belt in Tamilnadu, the Gurgaon-Manesar belt in Haryana, and other auto hubs in the country are waging militant struggle in defence of the right to organise themselves into unions of their choice. They are opposing contractualisation of labour and the massive retrenchment being carried out by the capitalists in this sector at the present time.
Air India: Following the failure of the previous government to find buyers for Air India, the new government has decided to make the terms of sale even more favorable to any prospective corporate wishing to purchase it. It has announced that Air India would be handed over completely to the private buyer, instead of the earlier proposal that the government would retain 24% of its shares. Further, the government has announced that it would take over 50% of Air India’s outstanding debts so that the private buyer would not be having to clear this debt.
It is well known that the massive debt of Air India was due mainly to the policies of the previous governments aimed at liquidating Air India through a series of measures aimed at benefiting private airlines. In particular, Air India was forced to purchase an extremely large number of aircraft to favour definite foreign aircraft manufacturers. Despite all this, Air India has been running at an operational profit for the last few years. Air India workers are pointing out that if the government writes of its debt, as it is promising to do for prospective private buyers, then Air India would run profitably as a government undertaking. The workers are questioning the rationale of handing over handing over Air India to a private company after writing off its debt.
Airports Authority of India: The workers of Airports Authority of India under the banner of the Airports Authority of India Employees Union are protesting against the decision of the government to hand over six airports — Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangalore — to the Adani group for 50 years.
The Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas and other capitalist monopoly houses are desperately looking for ways to boost their profits and expand their wealth at a rapid rate, in spite of the crisis of the Indian economy. They plan to do so by militarizing the economy and more aggressively capturing foreign markets by strengthening the Indo-US alliance. They plan to boost their profits by opening up further to foreign capital and intensifying the degree of exploitation of workers, robbery of peasants and loot of natural resources.
Indian and foreign monopoly capitalists have used their enormous money power, modern technology, TV, social media and all kinds of devious means to bring about the victory of BJP with an absolute majority in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. They are relying on this government to accelerate the pace of implementation of the anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-national program of globalisation, through liberalisation and privatisation.
The government has rejected the demand raised by workers unions that the wages of workers in the country should be at least Rs 18,000 per month, along with six monthly cost of living adjustment. Rejecting all the proposals of workers unions, it has passed the Wage Code Bill, without specifying what the national minimum wage would be. The principle of cost of living adjustment being a universal right has not been accepted.
Workers’ demand for universal social security has been rejected. The Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill has been introduced in parliament, which leaves out a large section of the working class from its purview. The government is planning to push through the Code on Industrial Relations and the Code on Social Security. Through these laws, the demand of the capitalists, Indian and foreign, for improving the “ease of doing business”, is being fulfilled.
Workers’ right to organise themselves into trade unions is sought to be curtailed. Hiring workers on temporary contracts and firing them at any time will be made even easier. Many more factories and companies will be out of the purview of labour laws. Capitalists will be allowed to “self-certify” that they are complying with labour laws.
The government has announced that it will raise over one lakh crore rupees through disinvestment and outright sale of public sector units. The target includes profit making public sector companies like Indian Oil Corporation, NTPC, Powergrid, Oil India, GAIL, National Aluminum Company, BPCL, EIL, Bharat Earth Movers, etc. Railway workshops producing diesel and electric locos, and coaches, will be handed over to private parties. It has announced its proposal to sell Air India at terms even more favourable to the private buyer than its earlier proposals.
Many more sectors of the economy are being further opened up to foreign capital. 100% FDI will be permitted in defence manufacturing and in coal mining. In retail trade, earlier restrictions that foreign companies must source 30% of their products from within the country have been eased. Higher education is being further privatized and opened up for Indian and foreign capitalists as an arena for reaping maximum profits.
The economic measures aimed at boosting capitalist profits at the expense of the working class and peasantry are being accompanied by an all-round escalation of state terrorism and communal persecution.
The real wages of the vast majority of workers has been falling over the past decade. So has the real incomes of the vast majority of peasants. Workers and peasants do not have enough money to buy the goods produced by capitalist industry. This is the fundamental cause of the economic crisis in our country. It is further aggravated by the crisis in the world economy and in international trade, which has resulted in slowing down of Indian exports. Successive governments headed by the Congress and BJP have been repeating the lie that what is good for the capitalist class is good for the whole of society. For the past three decades, they have aggressively implemented the capital-centered program of globalisation, through liberalisation and privatisation.
India has become ever more closely integrated into the world imperialist system. The Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas and other big capitalist monopolies have become major exporters of capital. Indian capitalist monopolies are contending with foreign capitalist monopolies in the world arena. They are collaborating with foreign capitalists to super-exploit workers, rob peasants and plunder the natural resources of our country.
The ruling capitalist class is dragging the country along a path of rapid militarization and participation in unjust wars of conquest, in alliance with the US and under the banner of fighting “Islamic terrorism”. The much trumpeted goal of a $ 5 trillion economy by 2024 is a declaration that economic policy is going to remain oriented to fulfill the greed of monopoly capitalists, Indian and foreign.
To lift Indian society out of crisis, it is essential to change the orientation of the economy. From being geared to fulfill capitalist greed for maximum private profits, social production must be reoriented to fulfill the rising needs of the entire people. Social production can and must be planned to employ all available hands and ensure a steady increase in the real incomes of the working people.
Who will carry out this human-centered reorientation of the economy? It is the working class which has to provide leadership to the peasantry and all other working people, in organising to bring about this change.
The National Workers Convention must take up this challenge.
As a starting point, we must thoroughly reject the anti-social and anti-national program of privatisation and liberalisation. We must resolve to build the broadest possible unity of workers so as to defeat this program.
While this is a starting point, we cannot restrict ourselves to this goal. Thirty years of struggle of the working class against this program has clearly shown that we cannot defeat it unless and until we boldly establish before the entire working class and people that there is an alternative.
That alternative is the independent program of the working class – aimed at bringing the toiling majority of people to power and reorienting the economy to ensure secure livelihood and prosperity for all.
We must organise discussion amongst workers in factories, industrial townships, and residential areas, in order to contribute to the elaboration of this program. In the course of this work, we can and must build and strengthen the unity of the workers, peasants and other working people around this alternative program.
We must build and strengthen the organisational unity of workers. The bourgeoisie has worked systematically to divide us workers in many different ways. In this way it ensures that it can isolate and attack workers, one section at a time. This is how it has succeeded in implementing its thoroughly anti-social and anti-national program all these years. The time has come to change this situation.
We workers must uphold the slogan "An attack on one is an attack on All!"
No matter which section of workers is the current target of attack, all of us must come out in their defence.
We must build and strengthen workers’ unity committees in factories, industrial centers, and all workplaces. These unity committees must organise support for the workers who are target of attack by the ruling class.
The CGPI calls upon all delegates to the National Workers Convention to take up the task of elaborating the independent program of the working class in their trade unions, in their federations, in their workplaces, and amongst all sections of workers.
The bourgeoisie has been setting the agenda for a very long time. The time has come for the working class to set the agenda. We will do so by developing our alternative program and uniting the broad masses of people around it.