Statements of Radical Socialist
Published on Monday, 06 September 2010 13:03
Written by Radical Socialist
Join the All India Strike: Fight for Price Control and the Rights of Working People
Radical Socialist supports the call for an all-India strike on 7 September, given by the National Convention of Workers on 15 July, 2010. Those who participated included AITUC, HMS, CITU, INTUC, AIUTUC, AICCTU, TUCC and UTUC. BMS, which was a part of the ongoing joint trade union action from the very beginning, did not participate in the Convention and has withdrawn from the strike call.
The convention adopted a Declaration which highlighted the demands for
• Containment of the massive spurt in prices of essential commodities through measures like universal PDS and halting speculation in commodity market.
• Measures to be taken for linkage of employment protection in the recession stricken sectors with the stimulus package being offered to the concerned entrepreneurs and for augmenting public investment in infrastructure
• Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measures for violation of labour laws
• Removal of all restrictive provisions based on poverty line in respect of eligibility of coverage of the schemes under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act 2008
• The creation of a National Fund for the Unorganised Sector to provide for a National Floor Level Social Security to all unorganized workers including the contract/casual workers in line with the recommendation of National Commission on Enterprises in Unorganised Sector and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour
• To use the growing reserve and surplus of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), not for meeting budgetary deficits, but for the expansion and modernization purposes and also for revival of sick Public Sector Undertakings.
In the last one year, there has been one immense and virtually non-stop price rise. The raising of petrol, diesel and LPG price has meant raising the state deciding to go in for raising the cost of living. The argument that the state cannot afford such subsidies is a class statement. This same state has been reducing income tax levels even as incomes of the upper layers shoot up. It has reduced corporate taxation in a number of ways. That such practices existed in the past is not because Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi had introduced socialism, as present day advocates of total free market and pushing the burden on the exploited claim. That some measures of welfare, however limited, had existed is a function of the class struggle. To gain and retain hegemony at an earlier stage, the Indian capitalist class had been compelled to accept the bitter pill of some welfare measures, the creation of a large public sector and the creation of jobs, the expansion of a public distribution system, the creation of some very minimal health care measures for sections of the workers, and so on. None of this had been done because of any largeness of heart of the capitalist class, and their response often had been that of a person whose tooth was being pulled out without anaesthetics. The defeat of the Railway strike and the Bombay Textile strike were major events that tilted the balance against labour. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the capitalist transformation of China, also disoriented many. As a result, the capitalist offensive was widened in the 1990s.
This has had tremendous negative effects for large sections. Without doubt, sustained working class action, carrying behind it all the other toilers, is the only way to halt and reverse this process. It is therefore heartening to see such an all-encompassing effort. The INTUC has joined the struggle. This is an indication that the pressure and the anger is so great that even unions affiliated to ruling parties feel compelled to take some distance from the terribly anti-people measures of the regime. In this context, Ms. Mamata Banerjee’s decision to oppose the strike and call on TMC cadres to resist it publicly, is an indication of just how far rightwing her politics in reality is. Those former Naxalites who are now swelling her camp have to explain where they stand, whether they will condemn her and resist her thugs, or pretend that since the CPI(M) and CITU are parts of the strike it is best for them to sleep through 7th September.
Supporting the strike, and taking part in all union where our comrades are active, we however note that one off actions, called from the top, do not constitute an adequate response. Of course, mass actions do need to be called by trade union federations, and we do not claim that general strikes will emerge spontaneously from below. In the debate between Marxists and anarchists over the general strike in the late 19th-early 20th century, the Marxists used to argue that a call to halt all production made from above is utopian, and if it were possible one might as well make a call from above for a revolution. But revolutionary Marxists like Luxemburg, Trotsky and Lenin recognized through their experience of class struggle, the general strike can develop from concrete class struggles, and the task of Marxists is not to make an untimely general strike cum insurrection, but to assist the process of its development. This means a constant struggle. This means linking the general demands to particular struggles, raising demands that push the consciousness of workers forward. In that sense struggles and victories like the defeat of Vedanta are significant pointers. Specifically, it means that general strikes can be effective most when they emerge from major ongoing struggles, linking the large economic battles involved in such strikes, with the political battle, since a general strike is not directed against individual capitalists, but over their heads, against the capitalist state itself.
To defeat the ruling class offensive, we need greater unity, we need a strategy of militant struggles, not making mass struggles the adjunct of parliamentary struggles but reversing the relationship, and we need widest internal democracy within the working class movement, the maximum pluralism to ensure that all voices of all sectors, dalits, adivasis, women and men, are heard and their demands incorporated in the struggles, their participation ensured.
- Ensure the success of the all India general strike.
- Launch a sustained campaign for rpice control
- Restore the full PDS for all, end the farce of dividing the exploited between the Below Poverty Line and the non BPL. when it comes to the distribution of essential commodities at fair prices