Working Class
AICCTU's 9th National Conference

All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) held its 9th National Conference at Bihar’s capital, Patna (Com. Yogeshwar Gope Nagar) on 4-6 May 2015.

The conference began on 4th May with an impressive “March for Workers' and Peasants’ Rights, in the scorching sun, culminating in a public meeting in which thousands of workers and peasants participated. The march was led by Comrades Swapan Mukherjee and S Kumarasamy, Bihar state leaders and foreign guests including Comrades Nikolaos Theodorakis (Greece) from WFTU; Kamlesh Jha and Kul Bahadur Khatri from GEFONT, Nepal; Lalbahadur Pakhrin and Ramdev Lal Das from CONEP, Nepal and Tapan Datta from BTUC, Bangladesh. The main areas of the city were impressively decorated with red flags and banners and gates.

Addressing the mass meeting, CPI(ML) General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the one year of Modi government has had been the year of attacks on workers and peasants, breaking the promises of ‘good times’. ‘Make in India’ is the pretext for snatching the rights of workers and peasants, who actually do make in and for India. He said this 9th National Conference of AICCTU is an important milestone in the direction of ongoing nation-wide struggles of contractual and honorarium and women workers for their rights, dignity, social security and equal wages. He saluted the brave struggles of workers of Maruti, of contractual workers throughout the country, of working people of Greece against austerity measures, wage cut and retrenchment and all workers fighting for justice. Comrades Swapan Mukherjee, Dhirendra Jha, Rajaram Singh, Shashi Yadav and RN Thakur addressed the meeting. The meeting was conducted by Com. Ram Bali Prasad. Several central leaders of AICCTU as well as AIARLA, AIKMS and AIPWA graced the dais.

After the mass meeting, the red flag was hoisted by Comrade Shyamlal Prasad and floral tributes were paid by delegates to the martyrs’ column. Thereafter, the delegate session started at Rabindra Bhavan (Comrade Shah Chand auditorium). The stage was named after martyr Comrade Gangram Kol, tea garden workers’ leader from Assam and CWC member of AICCTU. The presidium elected to preside over the session included Comrades Rajiv Dimri, RN Thakur, S. Balan, Shashi Yadav, Shubhendu Sen, Subhas Sen, NN Banerjee, NK Natarajan and Hari Singh.

The session started with condolences for the victims of the devastating quake in Nepal and India, and a 2-minute silence in the memory of martyred and departed comrades. Thereafter, AICCTU General Secretary Com. Swapan Mukherjee placed the report before the conference on behalf of outgoing committee.

The second day of the conference started with the open session in which Comrades Shokhila Munda, wife of Gangaram Kol, and Jamila Khatun, wife of Shah Chand; Comrades Rajpal and Satish, leaders of Maruti workers; and foreign guests and leaders of central trade unions from India were felicitated.

The welcome speech of the session was delivered by Com. S. Kumarasamy (AICCTU National President), after which the session was addressed by Comrades Nikolaos, AK Padmanabhan (CITU President), Shivgopal Mishra (AIRF General Secretary), DL Sachdeva (AITUC National Secretary), Abani Roy (UTUC leader), Gautam Mody (NTUI General Secretary) and representatives from AIUTUC, TUCC and HMS. Comrade Swapan Mukherjee thanked the speakers. The session was conducted by Comrade Rajiv Dimri.

Several fraternal international trade union organizations which could not participate, sent their solidarity messages, namely: PAME (All Workers Militant Front), Greece; VGCL (Vietnam General Confederation of Labour); ANTUF (All Nepal Trade Union Federation); RWPB (Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Bangladesh); APFUTU (All Pakistan Federation of United Trade Unions); JRU (the Japan Confederation of Railway Workers’ Unions); GUPW (General Union of Palestine Workers); South Asia Solidarity Group, UK; Justice for Domestic Workers, UK and IWGB (Independent Workers Union of Great Britain).

The delegate session began on 5 May and continued till 6 May evening. This session was addressed by Kamlesh Jha, national executive member of GEFONT (General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions), Lal Bahadur Pakhrin, Vice-President and Chief of International Department, CONEP (Confederation of Nepalese Professionals) and Tapan Datta, vice-President, BTUC (Bangladesh Trade Union Centre).

Comrade Rajpal, leader of Maruti workers spoke about their struggle against the ongoing repression, which was highly inspiring for the delegates. In all, 54 delegates representing workers of various sectors like construction, contractual workers, honorarium workers (including ASHA, Anganwadi and mid-day meal workers), as well as workers from organized sectors like rail, steel, coal, tea estates, jute, transport, and government services, expressed their views on the General Secretary’s report. They spoke of the challenges faced by workers in their fields and the struggles going on, stressing the need for intensifying struggles and strengthening the unity of all workers for a successful fight for justice. After Comrade Swapan Mukherjee summed up the discussions and incorporated several suggestions, the report was passed unanimously. Around 600 delegates and observers participated in the conference.

In the end, the conference elected a 195-member national council, a 66-member central working committee and 39 central office bearers including 21 Vice Presidents and 16 Secretaries. Comrade S Kumarasamy and Comrade Rajiv Dimri were elected all-India President and General Secretary respectively.

The conference adopted several Resolutions, which include: to extend support and cooperation to the quake-hit people of Nepal and India and contribute financially for the relief work; to take up issues in keeping with the “Charter of Struggle” adopted by conference; to extend all support to the workers’ National Convention convened by 11 central trade unions including AICCTU on May 26 in Delhi; to call for a nationwide general strike at the earliest; to hold nation-wide demonstrations and sit-ins on 25th May particularly against attacks on labour rights by Modi Government in one year; to actively participate in the 100-day AIPF’s ‘Land and Labour rights campaign’ from March 23 to June 30, 2015; to firmly oppose the move to exempt child labour in household/family enterprise work from the ‘Prohibition of Child Labour Act’; to support the teachers’ strike in Bihar and to actively support the proposed central government employees’ indefinite strike from 23 November. The conference congratulated the Coal, Bank, BSNL and Transport workers and employees for their successful strikes against the policies of the present govt. It extended its greetings of solidarity to the WFTU on its 70th anniversary and decided to participate in programmes with other Indian affiliates of WFTU to observe this occasion.

The rally and conference was energized and enthused by songs and programmes performed by teams of Jan Sanskriti Manch and Hirawal and delegates from various states. The conference concluded with singing of Internationale.

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