ML UPDATE 19/2011

MLUpdate

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol. 14, No. 19, 03 – 09 MAY 2011

Draft Manufacturing Policy:

Fresh Assault on Workers’ Rights

Workers all over the country observed May Day this year to salute the legacy of the Haymarket martyrs and other workers’ heroes who wrested rights for workers with their struggles and sacrifices. These hard-won rights and labour laws to rein in exploitative employers are today facing attack after attack by neoliberal governments in India.

In early May, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to chair a meeting of key Ministers to pave way for the Draft National Manufacturing Policy, which plans to introduce the latest and more expanded avatar of SEZs – NMIZs (National Manufacturing Investment Zones). This meeting is said to have the objective of smoothing over the reservations of the Ministries of Labour and Environment to the NMIZs proposal.

SEZs, touted as a panacea for development, have already become notorious for land grab and exploitative work conditions. Increasingly SEZs have been facing trouble in land acquisition due to spiralling protests by peasants against land grab. Now, NMIZs are being proposed as the new mantra for development.

As far as land grab and violation of environment and forest laws is concerned, as well as exploitation of labour laws, NMIZs are nothing but a proposed extension of SEZs, albeit in a new packaging. NMIZs are being pitched as a measure to increase the share of manufacturing in GDP and the manufacturing sector’s share in employment. As of now, agriculture in India contributes increasingly less to the GDP even as its share in employment remains disproportionately high. The UPA Government is packaging NMIZs as the answer to agrarian crisis and massive unemployment. But in the name of creating a ‘conducive policy environment’ for manufacturing, the aim is to strip workers of their rights, not just in isolated SEZ enclaves, but in mainstream industrial clusters across India.

The Draft National Manufacturing Policy proposes that NMIZs will enjoy a similar package of sops and incentives as SEZs – including land, infrastructure, water, power etc provided by the government as well as various tax waivers. Like SEZs, each NMIZ will be administered exclusively by a governing body called a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) comprising CEOs and company representatives. The procedures for acquiring environmental and other clearances are to be ‘simplified’ and speeded up. And above all, labour laws are to be “made more flexible.”

The Draft Manufacturing Policy proposes that manufacturing units within NMIZs be given the “flexibility to downsize” (a euphemism for hire-and-fire); exemption from the Contract Labour Abolition Act (i.e. freedom to indulge in labour practices which are deemed exploitative by the law of the land); freedom to extend temporary status of employees; to extend the number of hours per shift; and curtailment of the workers’ right to unionize.

It should be noted that rampant violation of labour laws prevails as the norm in manufacturing units as it is. The automobile industry, to take just one instance, is known to be dependent upon a disproportionately high percentage of contract workers. Even in the public sector, illegal employment of contract labour is on the rise. The right to unionise is routinely denied and suppressed in most factories. Now, in the name of NMIZs, these violations of labour laws are sought to be cloaked in the sanctity of law.

The Draft Manufacturing Policy adds that “Wherever application of labour welfare legislation is suspended or diluted, an alternative safety net will be put in place to take care of the interest of labour by the SPV.” When existing labour laws are ‘suspended or diluted,’ what kind of ‘alternative safety net’ can workers expect from the SPV that comprises of the employers themselves?

The Draft Manufacturing Policy also proposes that the ‘exit policy’ for ‘sick industries’ be facilitated by relaxing the obligations to pay dues and compensation to workers before closing down sick units. This, according to the Policy, would “ease the pressure on the manufacturing entity considerably.” Instead it proposes a ‘job loss insurance policy’ in place of the workers’ legally mandated rights.

With the NMIZs, the UPA Government seems to be aiming to kill two birds with one stone: to create a new cover for the SEZs (which have become a political liability) and corporate grab of land and resources; and to achieve dilution of labour laws, something the corporate representatives have insistently demanded for long. ‘Development’ cannot be counter-posed to democracy – be it peasants’ democratic right to land and survival or workers’ rights which are the bulwark of industrial democracy. This May, let the working class resolve to join hands with the peasants to resist this double-edged threat to the land and livelihood of peasants and to the hard-won rights of workers.

May Day 2011

Working Class Marches against Corporate Plunder, Corruption & Violation of Labour Laws

The workers on this May Day demanded anti-worker recommendations of the Expert Committee on Provident Fund pension to be rejected; opposed the proposed anti-worker amendments in various labour welfare laws; demanded punishment to the industrialists who violate the norm of eight hour work-day; scrapping of contract system in toto instead of the eye wash action of banning contract labour in select industries, etc.

Bengaluru (Karnataka): All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) organized an impressive rally of workers on May Day that marched through the streets surrounding Information Technology Park, one of the centres of global capital in Bangalore. Last May Day was organized in Electronic City that is another major centre of IT industries. Workers of readymix concrete plants from four corners of Bangalore joined the rally after hoisting flag in their respective plants. The workers raised slogans that reverberated all through the centre of global capital. The rally also demanded resignation of Yeddyurappa-led BJP government in the state of Karnataka that is pro-corporate and pro-transnational corporations. The rally accused the BJP government of fomenting communalism and for promoting illegal mining despite tall talks of ban on exports.

Assam: AICCTU and its affiliated organizations observed May Day at different places in Assam. Different central TUs including AICCTU jointly organized a massive protest meeting and a procession in Guwahati city. In the morning AICCTU affiliated trade union (among unorganized and contractual workers) United Workmen Union of Guwahati Refinery brought out a procession and held a seminar on ‘Role of working class and mass organization in national building process’. In Tinsukia district, a tea workers’ mobilization was organized in Panitola Tea Estate under the banner of Asom Sangrami Chah Sramik Sangha (ASCSS).

May Day programmes were also held at Tinsukia town (jointly by TUs led by AICCTU), Dibrugarh (Tingkhong and Lahowal TE), Jorhat (Hindubari TE of Teok), Bihali of Sonitpur district (Bargang centre by ASCSS and AIALA), Naugaun district (by AIALA, Construction Workers Union and AIPWA at Dolong Ghat block and Khagarijan block), Barpeta (Sonkuchi colony, under the banner of Gramin Sramik Sangha and CPI(ML)). In Diphu, Karbi Anglong, May Day was observed jointly by 11 trade union organisations including AICCTU at Diphu Indoor Stadium. More than 600 workers took out a procession in the main streets of Diphu town.

Tamilnadu: At Redhills near Chennai 1000 strong rally of workers of AICCTU & AIALA was held which culminated in a public meeting. Workers of Chennai, Tiruvellore and Kanjipuram participated in a well decorated rally in red uniforms. Com. S Kumarasamy, National President of AICCTU was the main speaker.

In Namakkal district, Flag hoisting programmes were held at 17 centres. In Salem, AICCTU flags were hoisted at 4 places. Cadre meetings held at 2 places attended by construction workers. In Tirunelveli, rally attended mostly by women beedi workers, at Dindigul, CPI(ML) and AICCTU jointly organized Mayday programmes with Flag hoisting at six places.

In Tiruchi, Defence Contract Labour Union of Ordinance Factory hoisted their Flag at Factory gate. CPI(ML)’s Flag hoisted at Ilanthapaati, a neighbouring village. In Pudukottai, team of AIALA members campaigned in three blocks and hoisted CPI(ML) flag at 6 places. In Tanjore, Construction Labour Union hoisted flags at 3 places. In Coimbatore, an impressive public meeting was organized in Perianayakkan Palayam near Pricol factory. In Kanyakumari, Flag hoisting took place at 10 centres. In Karur, there was a poster campaign and comrades discussed party programme in a branch meeting.

Punjab: Many rallies were organized by AICCTU Punjab to mark the International Labour Day. Massive rallies were organized at Mansa, Jhunir, Budhlada, Tapa, Rampura and Talwandi apart from various village grain markets. These rallies were largely attended by the brick kiln workers under the banner of Lal Jhanda Bhatha Mazdoor Union (AICCTU) and Majdoor Mukti Morcha. The Chandigarh unit of AICCTU organized a rally in Sec.17. The flag was hoisted jointly by presidents of all the affiliated unions of AICCTU. The rally was attended by contract workers of PGI, GMCH 32, GMSH 16, TBRL, PEC, ISBT-43 in large number. People’s Theater staged a play and sang many revolutionary songs on this occasion conducted by Sameul Johns.

Chhattisgarh: May Day was observed by the AICCTU by taking out a rally from Ghadi Chowk, Supela and a public meeting thereafter. The meeting was addressed by AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee among others. CWC member of CPI(ML) Rajaram and Politburo member DP Buxi were present at the rally.

May Day was observed by the workers of Kolvasari, Welcome Distillery, Rayalseema Concrete Sleepers and the workers from Raipur, Bhilai and Rajnandgaon associated with Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, who assembled at Navadih Chowk, Seepat. From here a rally was taken out under the leadership of CMM President and AICCTU Vice-President Comrade Bhimrao Bagde. After passing through Tahsil office, Police Thana Chowk and Bus Stand, a meeting was organized in front of the Sanskritik Bhavan on Seepat main road. Revolutionary songs were presented.

Chhattisgarh Workers’ Cadre Conference: CPI(ML) Liberation organized a workers’ cadre conference on 1 and 2 May at Kurmi Bhavan, Radhika Nagar, Bhilai. The conference began by paying tributes to Bastar District secretary Gopaldhar Yadav, who passed away recently. Preparations for the AICCTU National Conference and the state of the workers’ movement in Chhattisgarh were discussed. The conference was addressed by Party Politburo member DP Buxi and AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee among others. The Conference resolved to conduct an intensive drive among the workers of Chhattisgarh, especially Bhilai.

Rajasthan: May Day was celebrated in three districts of Rajasthan. In Jaipur District the newly-formed South Jaipur Industrial Area Mazdoor Union which recently got affiliated with AICCTU, took out a rally in the Sanganer area under the leadership of Com. Anand Dheva. This area has 200-300 industrial units mainly involved in paper-making, textile printing, garment manufacture and exports. This was the first time that workers and unit owners in this area had witnessed a workers’ rally with red flags, slogans and speeches. The main speaker was Rajasthan AICCTU-in-charge, Com. Srilata who emphasised the importance of Mazdoor Divas, problems of unorganised workers and the need to form a strong workers’ union. The rally culminated at the gates of Rainbow Paper Factory where a worker had completely lost his right arm when it was crushed by a machine and he had not received any compensation. This gate meeting demanded that he be compensated at once. On the evening of May Day a joint press conference was held in Jaipur at the AICCTU office addressed among others by Com. Srilata.

In Udaipur District two meetings were held, one in Tehsil headquarters of Salumbar and the other in Udaipur city. Two meetings were also held in Jhunjhunu District. The first was held in the district headquarters and party cadre met in the party office.

Uttar Pradesh: At Allahabad, hundreds of workers of Iffco Contract Workers’ Union (afficilated to AICCTU) marched 4 km in the form of a rally from their factory gate to Babuganj Bazaar on the eve of May Day with red flags, slogan placards and banners in their hands. Peasants and other workers too joined in at different places on the way. The meeting at the end of the rally remembered the immortal and unforgettable martyrs of Chicago 1886.

On May Day, Iffco CWU, Allahabad Medical Workers’ Union, sanitaion workers of Municipal Council and hundreds of other workers marched to Suhash Chauraha where a meeting was organised by May Day Celebration Committee. AICCTU was represented by Dr. Kamal. Programmes were also organised in Kanpur where flag was hoisted by AICCTU at Vijaynagar Gun Factory.

Bihar: May Day programmes were organised under AICCTU banner at Gaya, Bhagalpur, Patna, Nalanda, Bhojpur, Jahanabad, Darbhanga and Vaishali. At most places rally was taken out that transformed into public meeting at the end of march. At Darbhanga, seminar was held at Party office after Flag hoisting. Flag was hoited at all the centres. In Patna, joint rally was organised in the evening organised by Central TUs.

Uttarakhand: AICCTU organised seminar in Pithoragarh dist on May Day.

Jharkhand: May Day programmes were centred on the protest against eviction of poor in the name of removing encroachment apart from national issues. On 2nd May, the bandh called in Coal Belt and Jharkhand against the evictions was a complete success. Prabhat Pheri (dawn time parade) was held at Steel Plant Colony in Bokaro and Flag was hoisted at Balidih office. Dharna was held at Jainamod Bus Stand and workers’ meeting was held in the evening at BSSL colony. Flag hoisting and pledge meetings were held at Dhanbad’s various centres of our work participated by coal workers in large numbers and rally was held at Bermo’s Kurpania village and Chandan Kiari. A big meeting of thousand workers by the name “People’s movement and rights’ day” was held at Bagodar organised by AICCTU affiliated unions.

Meeting was held at Koderma, Jamshedpur and Chakradharpur, torchlight procession at Ranchi and May Day programmes at Jarmundi in Dumka. Programmes were organised in Ramgarh dist that included Flag hoisting at CCL area, Argadda, Topa, Ara and Kedla, Ramgarh town and at Party office. May Day was observed at Soso and Orla rural areas.

Haryana: May day call was given at Sonipat Industrial area.

Gujarat: Big May Day rally comprising 500 workers marched 5 km at Ahmedabad in scorching sun, led by Ranjan Ganguly and Prabhat Chaudhary.

Delhi: A huge rickshaw rally was held at Noida that started from Sec10 located Party office. Rickshaw pullers, factory workers and students from Delhi holding red flags jointly marched and celebrated May Day here. At Wazirpur Industrial Area, a militant march was taken out by the workers and joined in by students in the morning, street-corner meeting was held in East Delhi’s Mandawli locality where building workers participated.

Orissa: May Day was observed in Bhubaneswar, Rayagada , Kendarpara and Puri. At Nagbhusan Bhaban in Bhubaneswar members of various AICCTU affiliated unions participated and joined in the Flag hoisting ceremony. Later, a public meeting was held. Flag was hoisted at Rourkella participated by workers from various unions. At Puri, hundreds of construction workers participated in a public meeting. At Rayagada, motor workers union, construction workers and agricultural workers participated and initiated movement for Rs.400/day as minimum wage and in Kendrapara Aganwadi workers, Asha workers, transport workers union and Rickshaw workers union participated.

Sri Lanka’s War Criminals Must Be Punished

The Sri Lankan Tamils, subjected to a genocide in the name of eliminating LTTE, and intimidated by the arrogant triumphalism of the Sri Lankan state following the military ‘victory,’ had till now looked in vain for UN intervention. For long, the UN as well as most other nations including the Indian Government remained reluctant to challenge the Sri Lankan Government’s claims of having begun a process of achieving justice, peace, and equality. But a recent report by a UN panel of experts has finally exploded that myth, and found the Sri Lankan Government guilty of war crimes and human rights violations.

Last year, quite belatedly, the UN Secretary General appointed a panel of experts to look into the situation in Sri Lanka. This United Nations Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka has recently submitted its report, finding the Sri Lankan Government guilty of war crimes in the final stages of the war with the LTTE and serious rights violations and abuses in the post-war situation.

The Report has found allegations of war crimes to be “credible” and held the Sri Lankan Government and military to be responsible for rights violations amounting to “war crimes and crimes against humanity.” The Report has said that it found a “very different version of the final stages of the war” to that peddled by the SL Government.

Whereas the Government claimed to have conducted a “humanitarian rescue operation” with “zero civilian casualties,” the UN Report found that between Sept 2008-May 2009, 330,000 people trapped in the Vanni area of Sri Lanka were subjected to widespread shelling causing civilian deaths. Also media was intimidated and silenced and prevented from reporting accurately on the situation in the conflict zones. The UN Report notes that the Sri Lankan Government resorted to shelling in areas where it had encouraged civilians to concentrate and even conducted shelling on food lines and near Red Cross ships coming to pick up the wounded and survivors. There was “systematic” and repeated “shelling of hospitals” and people in the conflict zone were “systematically” deprived of humanitarian aid, food, and medicine. According to the Report, tens of thousands of civilians died during the final stages of the war, mainly due to military shelling.

According to the Report, after the survivors left the conflict zones, they were subjected to further deprivation and abuses. Supposed LTTE elements were identified through a process that lacked transparency, and many of them were summarily executed. There were many cases of torture, rape and ‘disappearances’ of tens of thousands. Overcrowding and terrible humanitarian conditions in the camps led to needless loss of lives.

The Report also found the LTTE responsible for war crimes such as using civilians as hostages or strategic buffer, subjecting civilians to forced recruitment and forced labour, and shooting of civilians seeking to escape. But the Report’s main focus is on the culpability of the Government and the military.

Reviewing the process of establishing ‘accountability’ initiated by the SL Government, the UN Report has noted that this process is biased because it only covers the allegations against LTTE and against former Government’s policies which failed to protect people from terrorism. There is absolutely no serious examination of the Government’s own conduct during and after the war. The SL Government has formed a ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Council,’ but the UN Report has pointed out that this Council is far from being independent and impartial, and fails to meet the international standards of an effective accountability mechanism, since it is unwilling to examine the root causes of the decades-long Sinhala-Tamil conflict or establish the truth about allegations of rights violations during the final stages of war.

The UN Report has observed that an environment conducive to true accountability would require a “candid appraisal” of the past, including the root causes of the ethnic conflict, and a “fundamental shift away from triumphalism and denial towards a genuine commitment to a political solution that recognizes SL’s ethnic diversity and the full and inclusive citizenship of all its people.”

The UN Report also admits that the UN system and institutions failed to save civilian lives even though they were aware of large-scale civilian casualties.

The Report has made recommendations that the SL Government initiate investigations into allegations of war crimes, in the light of UN Panel’s report which has found credible evidence for such allegations. It has also recommended an independent international mechanism to monitor the SL Govt’s accountability and investigation process.

The Report recommends that the SL Government take steps to immediately stop the ongoing violence and discrimination, and restore dignity and rights to the survivors; investigate and disclose fate of disappeared persons; repeal Emergency regulations and modify all those provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act that conflict with international obligations and take measures to end the “climate of fear.” It also recommends that the SL Government should initiate a process with strong civil society participation to critically examine the root causes of conflict and pattern of violations during the war. Significantly, it also recommends that the Government should issue a public, formal acknowledgement of its role and responsibility for extensive civilian casualties in the final stages of the war, and make serious reparations in keeping with international standards to all victims of violations, especially women, children and vulnerable groups.

The Report also recommends that the UN Human Rights Council review its seriously flawed May 2009 Special Session resolution on Sri Lanka, in light of the findings of the UN Panel. That resolution had shamefully praised the SL Government and had failed even to express concern for the thousands of civilians who faced indefinite detention. It should be noted that India was among the countries which led the efforts to actively block the attempts to pass a stronger resolution holding the SL Government accountable to human rights. The Report further recommends that the Secretary General should initiate a comprehensive review of the role of the UN system during and after the conflict.

After the UN Panel’s Report, there is no longer any excuse to delay the task of bringing the war criminals in the Sri Lankan Government and military to justice. President Rajapakse and his government must be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Indian Government (led by Congress with DMK as coalition partner) is shamefully complicit in the crimes committed against the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The Indian Government must break its diplomatic silence on the findings of the UN Report, and must actively intervene to pursue international processes to prosecute the Sri Lankan Government for war crimes.

A lasting political solution and peace in Sri Lanka can only be built on a foundation of truth and justice. An impartial investigation must be conducted, perpetrators of war crimes must face stern punishment, and the rights and dignity of Tamils in today’s Sri Lanka safeguarded.

CPI(ML) Protests against SL’s War Crimes

CPIML held a protest demonstration against Rajapakse Govt on 3rd May at Tanjore. Large number of Party and mass organisation members participated in this state level demonstration. Apart from condemning and demanding trial of war criminals including Rajapakse the protest also strongly condemned the Conress-DMK led UPA Govt for its stoic silence over the UN report.

Solidarity Protest for Jaitapur

A solidarity protest march in Kolkata, supporting the people’s movement at Jaitapur in Maharashtra, was organized by the All India students’ Association (AISA), on 29th April. The protesters demanded that no new Nuke plant should come up in the country be it in Jaitapur in Maharastra or in Haripur in West Bengal. The protesters shouted slogan’s demanding to know why Mamta Banerjee is silent on the forceful land grab in Jaitapur. Colourful banners adorned the rally.

Mayawati Govt’s Order Protested

The Mayawati Govt in Uttar Pradesh passed an order on 27 April to curb protests and demonstrations thereby creating an emergency like situation in the State. The CPI(ML) burnt the copies of the order, demanded it be repealed immediately and protested against withholding permission for Anna Hazare’s programme in UP. The CPI(ML) State Secretary also said that the Ambedkarite mask of BSP is also wearing out. Dr. Ambedkar’s work in constitution writing ensured some fundamental rights to the people including the freedom of expression, assembly, dharna etc., which the Mayawati Govt is now bent on eroding. The CPI(ML) will continue its protest against this move to bulldoze democracy.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22442790, e-mail: mlupdate, website: www.cpiml.org

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s