3 IMCWP, Contribution of Communist Party of India

6/22/01 12:58 PM
  • India, Communist Party of India 3rd IMCWP En Asia Communist and workers' parties

Communist Party of India
by Polturi Nageswara Rao

THE COMMUNISTS AND THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT

We thank the Communist Party of Greece for convening the
International Meeting on the theme, "The Communists and the
Trade Union Movement", and inviting a delegation of the
Communist Party of India to participate in the meeting.

The urgency and importance of the Meeting is underlined by
the fact that in the recent period powerful mass actions of
workers and other sections of the people have broken out,
both at the international level and at the national level
in all countries, including our own. These massive actions
have been triggered off by International Finance Capital,
financial institutions like the World bank (WB),
International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) acting under the domination of the
developed capitalist countries, especially the G-7,
formulating and executing strategies which facilitate the
TNCs and the capitalist class of these countries to earn
super-profits by exploiting the entire developing world, in
addition to their own workers at home.

Neo-liberalism is the new ideological format of
unrestrained and unfettered capitalism, working in the
interests of international monopoly capital and its
collaborators in different countries. Through its Strategic
Adjustment Programme of liberalisation, privatization and
globalisation enforced through pliant governments, it is
strengthening its grip over the economy of developing
countries like India, dismantling their public sector and
acquiring their assets and resources, opening up their
markets for their products and investments, and so forth.
India has been made the dumping ground for foreign junk.

As a result, the farmers are hard hit. The workers are
under severe attack. The middle class employees and
professional sections feel insecure. The self-employed,
tiny and small-scale sectors are faced with serious
problems. Closures, retrenchment, voluntary retirement
schemes, downsizing of government jobs, are all leading to
joblessness and high unemployment.

In India, the Congress Party while it was in power during
199196 had first introduced this policy of liberalization,
privatisation and globalisation in the name of economic
reforms. Thereafter, the policy is being implemented with a
determination bordering on frenzy by the present rightist
BJP-led government, in the name of pursuing
second-generation reforms. As a corollary of the `economic
reforms', `labour
reforms', in the shape of a flexible labour policy of hire
and fire,--in short, of snatching away the gains won so far
through struggles, and of subordinating the working class
to the mercies of domestic and foreign capital is being
forcibly imposed.

The trade unions started by resisting these anti-worker,
anti-people economic policies and their attributes,
fighting defensive battles, as it were. Workers and
employees in banks, insurance, power, and several other
public sector enterprises struck back. The government
however, bending to the dictates of international foreign
capital, is obstinately pursuing these policies. Peasants
and agricultural labour are also taking to the streets,
whether spontaneously, or through actions organized by left
and other pro-farmer parties.

The right reactionary government does not just stop with
pursuing anti-people economic policies. These policies are
accompanied by reactionary measures in the sphere of
education, culture and social life. Students,
democratic-minded intelligentsia are thus being drawn into
these movements. There is growing realisation that the
hurried restructuring of the economy and social-cultural
life amounts to tremendous reduction in the power and
capacity of the state in a developing country such as ours,
and is leading to a huge transfer of more and more
strategic power to the domestic and foreign capitalist
classes.

The major economic strategic decisions and policies of the
present government are thus becoming the basic political
issues of the day. Most of the parties, trade unions, and
other mass organizations are being compelled to take a
stand, whether directly spelt out or indirectly implied on
the issues. From the earlier defensive actions against some
of the previous measures, the workers, employees, farmers,
and several other sections of the people are now going over
to offensive actions.

It is the subjective factor that is proving inadequate for
the task of organizing and coordinating all actions into a
powerful popular mass movement, in order to halt and
reverse these policies, and initiate alternate policies. A
serious inhibiting factor is the political and
organizational division within the ranks of the trade union
movement. There is multiplicity of trade unions and no less
than 9 Central trade unions operating in the country. At
the same time, the compulsions of the situation are
bringing the different trade unions and their central
organisations to join together in common and united
actions. Thus, though unity has not been forged in the form
of united organizations, unity in action is a general
feature of the present situation. The left political
parties are also encouraging and helping to bring about
united mass actions of workers, farmers and different
sections of the people.

The task of Communists in the trade unions and generally in
the working class movement is related to the specific and
concrete political situation facing the country.

A specific task is to emphasise and enhance the political
role of the trade unions. The actions that they are
fighting are sharply directed against the policies of
government, against the policies of neo-liberalisation
dictated by international finance capital. These actions by
their very nature, take on a marked anti-imperialist and
anti-capitalist character. As schools of class struggle,
they provide full opportunities for instilling and rousing
class-consciousness among the rank and file of the trade
unions, which are the primary organisation of the workers.

As noted, a major negative factor in the growth of the
trade union movement and its power in social life, has been
the division in the movement. Life is compelling them to
move towards united action. Our task as communists is to
constantly strive for and help bring about united actions
and trade union unity, so as to make their actions more
powerful and effective.
As a relatively better organized section, the trade unions
are called upon to extend support and concrete help to
other sections of the people, in particular farmers,
agricultural workers, unemployed youth and so forth. This
is no longer an academic proposition, but a practical one
posed by the movement.

In such a situation, communists are required to give
effective leadership to the movements and actions of all
sections of the toiling people, to draw together all the
streams and driblets into a might torrent of struggle
against the government for reversal of its anti-people and
anti-national policies. Such broad popular movement for
reversal of policies has the potential to develop into a
movement for change of government, and eventually against
the present order. Conditions for this have been created by
the setting up of what we call the National Platform of
Mass Organisations (NPMO), which brings together on one
platform, trade unions, peasant and agricultural worker
organisations, youth, student and women organisations, and
which has already spearheaded a number of nation-wide
massive actions.

The struggle against neo-liberalism has today acquired a
worldwide character. Seattle, Washington, Melbourne,
Prague, Toronto and several other cities in different
countries have inscribed their names as historic
battle-fields of this class war against International
Finance Capital and its neo-liberal policies of
exploitation and plunder. It is true, in addition to the
organized working class and their trade unions; there have
been several NGOs, actuated by various ideologies. But at
the core has been the anger of all these sections and
organisations directed against the World Bank, IMF, WTO and
their policies with reference to the developing countries
and the world's poor in every country.

For workers and their trade unions within each country,
this provides an opportunity for rousing international
awareness and international solidarity actions for carrying
out their historic mission.

The unprecedentedly rapid technological advance that is
affecting the economic and all other spheres of life, as a
product of the Scientific and Technological Revolution,
revolution in communication and IT is having a profound
impact on the working class in our country, in the sense of
change in its composition and character. It would not be
incorrect to say that what we have today is a new worker,
different from the typical worker in the first half of the
last century. However, though the character has changed the
essence has not. The system and dynamics of exploitation
in capitalist society remains.

It is not possible to go into a detailed analysis of the
genesis of this `new worker,' nor the composition and
character of the working class today, in this brief
presentation. The theory peddled by some bourgeois
propagandists that the working class, truly speaking, no
longer exists, and hence there is no longer any class
struggle, has been already refuted. Life has also refuted
it, what with the mounting struggles in which trade unions
and political parties of the working class are involved.

The point is, that the communists have to reckon with this
new worker, study the specific nature of his work in
specific industries and surroundings, his typical reaction
and moods, and accordingly mould his class consciousness,
and plan and direct his struggles against the system.

However, despite technological advance, the sheer
quantitative expansion of workers, and the spread of
unorganized industries all around the periphery present us
with tasks, which are the same as before. Thus speaking of
the quantitative expansion of the working class in India,
it has drawn into their ranks young people from various
strata, such as the urban middle class, agricultural
workers and farmers from rural areas, and even sections of
feudal and semi-feudal families, etc. Some of them come
with technical and other qualifications, and find place as
skilled workers, technicians and engineers. Others migrate
and enter the workers' ranks as unskilled workers, migrant
labour and so forth, both in organized and unorganized
industries and occupations. They are first generation
workers. They are exposed for the first time to the routine
and discipline of industrial life. They bring with them the
alien tendencies and influence of the class and
surroundings of their origin. They provide ground for
certain negative and harmful trends within the movement. At
the same time, they display militancy when occasion
demands, while swinging from one mood to another. All this
is a separate subject for study.

This imposes a task on communists to combat with patience
and perseverance all alien trends, through primary
socialist education and experiences of the movement, so as
to develop in them proletarian consciousness.

Connected with the above, is the task of drawing this vast
mass into the fold of organisation. The slogan, "Organise
the Unorganised", has to be taken up seriously by
communists in the trade union movement of developing
countries. The unorganized workers, working in sweated
industries, in the small-scale sector, or as contract
labour and in irregular jobs, are subject to the worst
exploitation. Allowing them to wallow in such horrible
conditions, while a minority section of organised workers
continue to improve their conditions through struggles,
creates a wide gulf between the two sections, which can
come in the way of moving the entire class into action on
issues and against the existing order. Naturally, the
organized trade unions have to lend a big brotherly helping
hand in this task of organising the unorganized. Communists
have to infuse this spirit into the movement.

With International Finance Capital on the rampage, and
with the big bourgeoisie in many developing countries as in
India, intent on implementing the policies of
liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, the scope
for `economism,' and `pure trade unionism,' which have been
the bane in our trade union movement for long, is becoming
less and less. It is the task of communists to utilise this
situation for enhancing, as we said before, the political
role of the trade unions, and for spreading the influence
and organizational network of communists within the TU
movement.

For this, conscious efforts have to be made for party
recruitment and setting up of party branches and other
units in the trade unions. It is necessary to ensure
regular education of new recruits and cadres through party
schools, study circles etc, drawing on and generalizing
their own experiences of the movement. It is also necessary
to integrate the whole time functionaries or leading
functionaries at the work sites and on jobs, with the
appropriate party committees, so that their consciousness
does not remain confined to the exclusive grooves of their
own trade union work.

In the coming days, this will be one of the most important
aspect of communist activity, and will shape the future.