“Labour Laws and New Forms of Working Class Resistance in the Era of Globalisation”
25 July, New Delhi. Labour activists, intellectuals and social-political activists have blamed the leadership of traditional trade unions for the defragmentation and weakness of labour movement today and stressed the need to build new revolutionary trade unions and to organise the vast majority of unorganised workers. They were participating in the First Arvind Memorial seminar on “Labour laws and new forms of working class resistance in the era of globalisation” organised here by Rahul Foundation on Friday. It was felt that political, economic and democratic rights of workers are constantly under attack through neo-liberal policies but the working class is unable to organise an effective struggle on economic demands and limited democratic rights.
Editor of progressive journal ‘Ahwan’ and labour activist Abhinav initiated the discussion by saying that the modus-operandi of capital has undergone many basic structural changes and this makes it necessary for the working class to make fundamental changes in its forms of protest and its strategy. Capital has developed new ways and means to appropriate super-profits through automation and other new techniques. Concentration of large number of workers in big factories is being replaced replaced by the dispersion of small numbers of workers in several small factories. Most of these workers are either contract, daily wages, casual workers or work on piece rate. More and more women and children are employed on still lower wages. He said that 93 per cent of the total worker’s population is employed in informal sector and which is not organised in any trade union. Organising this mass is the biggest challenge facing revolutionary forces today. We need to organise this population not only in factories but also by working in the working class neighbourhoods. He said that it will be wrong to think that this vast mass of workers is incapable of organised itself into a strong movement. It may seem a faceless and shapeless mass today but it has revolutionary potential. The mobility forced upon these workers serves to increase their political consciousness. They know that they are not exploited by any one capitalist but by the capitalist class as whole who is supported by the state and all its organs.
Dr. Prabhu Mahapatra of Delhi University while discussing the fragmentation of the working class said that new ways of organising will have to be explored. Discussing the history of the origin of the labour laws he said that through these laws the state tries to present itself as an impartial intermediary between the industrialist and and worker but actually it is on the side of capital. He stressed the need to work with the organised workers along with organising the workers of the unorganised sector.
Prof. Shivmangal Siddhantkar of CPI-ML (New proletarian) said that the working class is demoralised and scattered today but it is preparing to fight again. The need is that the scattered revolutionary forces come to a single platform and provide leadership to the workers’ fight so that the workers can rise above the defeatist mindset prevailing among them.
Sheikh Ansar, from Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha said that it is very important to work and organise in the residential areas of workers as well as organise them in trade based organisations and trade unions. CMM has been working on this basis for last two decades and today there are three colonies which have been settled by the workers themselves. They have their own hospital and ambulance and schools. The working class can fight only by building its own institutions and parallel forces. He stated that Shankar Guha Niyogi mentioned in his last message that without an All-India revolutionary party, the workers’ struggle cannot move beyond a point.
Satyam of Rahul Foundation said that The boundaries of nation-states are now more open for the movement of capital while the movement of labour now faces even more restrictions and conditions. In the unbridled drive of privatisation education, health and all such things have been declared mere products and given away to market forces, but the government, bureaucracy and judiciary are now playing an even more active role in controlling labour. The present global recession has exposed the incurable structural crisis of capitalism.
The Editor of Punjabi magazine ‘Pratibadhh’, Sukhwinder from Ludhiana said that today the organised force and consciousness of the working class has been fragmented in various ways; the workers themselves have been divided at several levels and pitted against each other. Organised large unions are reduced to representing the economic interests of regular workers with better wages and living conditions and a very small segment of labour aristocracy. Labour laws exist on paper for most of the workers and labour courts have become almost irrelevant. Working class has lost the basic rights of job-security, working hours, minimum wages, overtime, housing which it had won as a result of long struggles, and the conditions for building a movement on these issues have become more difficult today.
The editor of the ‘Hamari Soch’ magazine, Subhash Sharma said that the revolutionary leadership cannot create new forms of working class struggle in advance. These new forms would emerge during the course of struggle. He said that the revolutionary forces should also work amongst the the organised workers working in the big factories because the unorganised sector’s worker can become the main force of the struggle but they cannot provide lead it.
Nagendra from Inqulabi Mazdoor Kendra Faridabad, Narendra Kumar from Patna, Kashmir Singh from Shaheed Bhagat Singh Vichar Manch Sirsa, Dr CD Sharma from Janchetna Manch, Gohana and Alok from Krantikari Yuva Sangathan also participated in the discussion. A researcher at the Institute of Economic Growth, Ms Mayumi Muriyama from Japan also participated in the seminar.
Com. Arvind was remembered and floral tributes were paid at his portrait at the start of the program. President of Rahul Foundation and well-known Hindi poetess Katyayani said Arvind was associated with worker’s newspaper ‘Bigul’ and left intellectual magazine ‘Dayitvabodh’. After being active for over fifteen years in the students and youth movement, he was engaged in organising workers for almost a decade. He played a leading role in several struggles of the workers from Noida and Delhi to Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Even in his last days he was leading a movement of sanitation workers in Gorakhpur. His short but intense life is an eternal source of inspiration for political workers.
For details, please contact:
Satyam: 9910462009, Abhinav: 9999379381