Statement on BSNL contract worker’s dharna on 26th

ALL OUT SUPPORT TO THE CONTRACT WORKER’S STRUGGLE !

Contract workers in BSNL are said to number around at least 1 lakh. This huge force of workers are among the most exploited segment of the company’s workforce. These workers, some of whom have worked for over ten years, remain deliberately exempted from benefits which are guaranteed by labor laws. After years of wait, all contract workers have united in their struggle and today are out on protest all over the nation under the banner of the BSNL Contract and Casual Worker’s Federation. The New Wave Bolshevik Leninist group extends its full support to the union and the contract workers who have come out on struggle today. We are with you all the way !

Nature of contract work and nature of exploitation.

The contract workers while employed by BSNL, are paid by the contractors. The contractor effectively acts like a seller of labor force, and the company its buyer. Because of this, the company management always tries to pass the buck on to the contractors, and the contractors themselves show now responsibility towards their workers. The Abolition of Contract labor act stipulates certain facilities and duties that the contractor must provide for the workers, chief among these are ensuring due payment of ESI, Provident Fund and payment of minimum wage. More often than not, they don’t honor any of these commitments. On the contrary, we have seen cases, where workers haven’t even gotten their pay for periods of 4-5 months and when this payment is given, it is done in a most irregular manner. This is despite a company directive, that the workers must be paid via cheque or through deposit in their account.

Company management blaming contractors, contractors blaming company management.

When these irregularities are reported to the company, the company feigns responsibility by saying it is not their duty. This is far from the truth ! Being the company which employs the workers, BSNL is the main employer for the contract workers and it is their responsibility to ensure that the workers get adequate pay and decent working conditions. Likewise, the contractors pretend that all matters pertaining to labor rights is out of their hands, even when the law stipulates that they must observe due payment of wages and give facilities for workers to help in their work. Neither the contractor nor the management has any regard for the contract worker and his rights. We cannot and must not let the contractor go scott free with their wrong doings, but nor must we lose sight of the bigger picture in which the management becomes the main enemy.

Who is the main enemy ?

While the contractor may present himself as the immediate enemy, the truth is that he is only a small part of a much bigger system in which the main enemy are those that decide the company policy. We must fight at three levels. The first level faces the immediate enemy, that is the contractor. Every time, that the contractor fails his duties to the workers, or commits any act which is illegal (like non-payment of wages) the union and the organization must take it up with the management and demand the same of the management and report the contractor for his illegal act. On the second level we fight against the company’s local management, against whom we can demand immediate measures dealing with local conditions. At the third level, we fight against the very top management and in turn, the capitalist government itself, and demand changes in policy for the betterment of the condition of workers and changes in law to ensure decent working conditions and ultimately, for the abolition of the contract labor system.

This third enemy, is our main enemy and it is not just our enemy but of the whole working class of India. Even while fighting at the local and state levels, we are ultimately building up to the fight at the national level. In this, we must build unity amongst ourselves and between ourselves and the workers of India.

For unity between all contract workers and unity between contract and permanent workers.

However, none of this can be achieved without the strength of a strong, militant and united organization of the workers. This step has been taken by the formation of the BSNLCCWF, but we cannot simply take it for granted. The organization must be strengthened by the constant vigilance and active participation of the workers in it. The organization in turn must function as an organization of the workers, taking the rank and file into trust in every decision it makes. The hallmark of a militant workers organization, is its steadfast commitment to the interests of the workers and fearlessness in defending and furthering it.

While we are building our own organization in BSNL, we must not be ignorant of the larger picture. The curse of contractorization affects not just us, but the whole working class of the country. By uniting our struggle with the struggle of all contract workers, and even non-contract workers, we will not only be strengthening our own struggle, but also furthering that of the entire working class. Remember, the main enemy is the capitalist class and its government.

The long term goal and short term goal.

Our struggle must be shaped in two directions. On the one hand, we must keep a long term goal, whilst on the other keep a gist of short term goals which can give contract workers immediate relief. The long term goal must be the regularization of all contract and casual workers employed by the company and their alleviation to the status of a permanent worker with the wage rate and attached benefits of a permanent worker, for all those who do work of a permanent nature. For those whose work is of a temporary nature, to make improvements in their condition of work and wage rate bringing them at par with permanent workers employed in similar areas of work. Our short term aims must include the most urgent and immediate questions of increases of pay and regularization of payment as well as measures which can guarantee us these.

Lastly, we must remember that it is only through rigorous and organized struggle that we can win in our fight. There are encouraging examples right within BSNL of victories which the contract workers have won through their struggle. In Kerala and Karnataka where they have won wage increases, and have successfully fought back discrimination against themselves. These are examples which show the way forward for all of us.

Abolish contractorization ! Stable jobs and good conditions for all !

Stop the discrimination ! Equal pay for equal work !

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Understanding the verdict of the 2014 elections

The Indian elections of 2014 were the largest the country has witnessed in its history, with around 816 million voters involved in the process. The elections were divided into 9 phases, making it the longest elections as well. The verdict was given on the 16th of May with the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi winning a singular majority on its own. The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) alliance which it leads garnered 337 seats. Thus, after 25 years we are witnessing a government founded on a solid singular majority.

The verdict however, isn’t as simple as it seems on the surface. While the NDA did win more than 3/5th of the seats in parliament, it won only 33.7% of the total votes polled. The second and third largest parties by vote share would be the Congress with 22% and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with around 4% of votes . In total, around 45% of votes were scattered among smaller regional and national parties. The regional parties like the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Jayalalitha’s party the AIDMK (All India Dravida Munetra Khazagham) won around 3.6%-3.8% of votes polled. In West Bengal and elsewhere, the Stalinist parties of the Left Front won around 3.2% of votes polled giving its worst ever performance in parliament. However, what this reality reflects is that the system even a small share in votes translates to a huge difference in seats won. Thus, over 65% of the voters who did not vote for the BJP or NDA alliance partners will go unrepresented. This is a telling feature on just how ‘representative’ India’s bourgeois ‘democracy’ is.

The implications of this result will be profound and will affect the country’s working poor as now a party of the bourgeoisie literally has absolute majority in parliament. It can wield enormous power including push forth any kind of parliamentary amendment it would like.

The dynamics of the indian elections :

We had earlier commented that this election gives no option to the working masses of India. On the one hand was the possibility of dynastic rule which would instill a ruthlessly pro-bourgeois rule in parliament, on the other hand was the possibility of a rule by a party under the influence of obscurantist reactionary forces running with a ruthlessly pro-bourgeois and anti-working class government in parliament. Between these two choices there would only be a myst of anarchy.

Till at least 2012, the verdict seemed unclear as to which party could win the elections. After the state elections in five major states, in which the BJP won all but one state election, the tide seemed clearer. The people had had enough of the misrule under the Congress, with constant attacks on the poor, mammoth corruption scams and complete failure to deliver any concrete benefit to the poor. Its promise of dynasty was hardly of any use in endearing the masses to it. As a party of the bourgeoisie, it had failed to appease the interests of any sector of the bourgeoisie to any satisfying degree, its strategy of concession and coercion hardly successful in pacifying the masses’ anger.

To this party of total misrule, the people had two alternatives, broadly speaking. One was the traditional regional parties and their front known as the third front led by the Stalinist coalition called the left front. The other was the new and rising force of the Aam Admi Party, which was forged in the heat of the anti-corruption mobilization which had shaken the foundations of the Congress rule and aroused the petty bourgeois, particularly in Delhi.

As we shall see, neither alternative were any good against the Congress and the people unsurprisingly rejected both.

On the Left Front led third front coalition, the core of this popular front alliance, the Stalinist CPM and CPIM lost in an unprecedented way in West Bengal winning hardly 8 seats. While the main reason would be the almost militarized efficiency with which rigging was conducted by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) party government, it is also due to the failure of the Stalinists to wage an effective fight against this fascistic violence conducted by the TMC party. This has not only confused and demoralized the people in West Bengal but is having its impact on the party cadre as well. The only state where the CPM is holding out is Tripura which seems to be acting like a mountain refuge for an ailing political force whose future is uncertain.

Of the other regional parties, it is hardly worth mentioning, that they have degenerated a long way since their lohiite roots. They are no longer seen with the halo of a party which fought against the corruption and bonapartist attitudes of the Congress in the 60s and 70s, but as a corrupt bourgeois party no different than that of the Congress. Indeed for all their ‘secular’ posturing the regional bourgeois alternatives like the Samajwadi Party or even the BSP is hardly anything but a party for the enrichment of their respective political leaders. No doubt these parties have been sidelined as well.

In the midst of this sea of corruption and betrayal, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) seemed to stand as a real political alternative of the people. Whatever illusions people had in it, were dashed soon after its formation and meteoric rise. The AAP had recently won the elections in New Delhi and briefly took power, before relinquishing its position due to its failure to push for the appointment of a Lokpal. In course of their tenure in Delhi, they promised a lot and delivered little. Its politics of conciliation with capitalism and combining seemingly opposing social forces in its party (exemplified by its recruitment of millionaire capitalist robber barons like the Vice President of Bajaj along with anti-capitalist social activists like Medha Patkar ) only confused its supporters. Ultimately, neither the urban working class nor the urban elite supported this party. It achieved nothing but to confuse its supporters and detractors alike. After failing in Delhi, the AAP could not recover its credibility a a party of the people, unsurprisingly it hardly garnered more than 2 seats.

With such pathetic alternatives to the Congress party, one would be tempted to think that the BJP won almost by default. It wouldn’t be entirely mistaken to say so. More than anything else the people wanted to overthrow the Congress government, no matter who comes, the Congress must first go. At the same time, with hardly any national alternative in sight, the only party which could guarantee such a verdict would be the BJP. The other big national party of the Indian bourgeoisie. At once we see both a situation of social tension as well as the total lack of class consciousness among the Indian working class and poor.

How the BJP won the elections :

Much before the 2014 election campaign set in, the mood of the people were already turned against the Congress. The first decisive break was the anti-corruption movement in 2011. During the same period, a series of general strikes had been conducted in India mobilizing a historic number of workers across the country. The largest general strike in the world had occurred in February of 2013. In this period, the BJP had been a very peripheral force. Even though it made its presence felt during the anti-corruption movement. It would not have been possible for any bourgeois force to hijack and finish the whole movement if it wasn’t for the conciliatory and reformism approach of the leadership of the movement. However, the seeds of the BJP emerging as a populist force had been sown at that time.

During the elections, money power and propaganda were in full display. Supporting the BJP was large funding by the leading capitalists of india, in particular the Birla family which leads the Birla group of companies which was the leading source of funding for both the Congress and the BJP. In addition to this, was a concerted media campaign which created a personality cult around Modi. The biggest impact of this media campaign was to win over the majority of India’s urban educated middle class who have access to tv and are more prone to media propaganda. Furthermore, the BJP and its linked organization the RSS mobilized a number of their cadre to conduct a massive propaganda on social media. Not to forget is the massive presence of the RSS through its thousands of branches and almost 8 million strong cadre force spread throughout the country. This was the organizational foundations of the BJP’s strength which allowed it to take furthest advantage of the anti-Congress mood in the country.

In the run up to the elections, the BJP had succeeded in mobilizing the RSS cadre and actively promoted a divisive communal agenda focussed around the Muzaffarnagar riots. Modi’s “right hand man” Amit Shah was active in the region playing on communal sentiments of the Jat community and turning them against the muslim community of the region. The riots of Muzaffarnagar were the fruits of a sustained covert propaganda campaign by the RSS in the region. Even so, it would never have been successful if it wasn’t for the inconsistent response of the state led by the supposedly secular Samajwadi Party. Traditionally, communal forces have been tolerated by the liberal bourgeoisie so that they can implement their divide and rule policy. However, in Uttar Pradesh, they seem to have overplayed their hand, for it was not the Samajwadi Party which took advantage of the situation, but the BJP.

Throughout the election they cemented a reactionary consensus emboldened by the developments in Muzaffarnagar. Modi himself seems to have replicated his success in Gujarat, where he successfully cemented his power through the Gujarat riots of 2002, which remain one of the bloodiest riots in India. Throughout the elections, Modi was liberal in the use of hindutva symbols like choosing to campaign in Varanasi, the holiest city of Hinduism. By using symbols which fit into a hindutva schema, he succeeded in galvanizing the support of upper caste reactionary segments of society. This however, explains only the success of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Elsewhere, he was aided much more by the negative perception of the Congress than anything else.

Thus, through a cleverly constructed campaign strategy, the BJP could win over the urban young middle class as well as the more traditional sectors of the population. This constituted the constructive part of his campaign. The other was the negative/destructive part of the campaign. This involved breaking the opposition of the muslim voters.

First of all, it must be said, that if secularism has died in India, the Congress and other bourgeois parties must be the first to blame. The continuous deprivation and marginalization of the muslim community in India has occurred under the rule of the Congress over 60 years. The regional parties and Stalinists purporting to be secular have no better a record to show. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal show the worst conditions of backwardness among the community in India. In a popular talk show on CNNIBN one muslim citizen from Delhi when asked about whether he fears Modi said “We have nothing to fear from Modi, because in truth the Congress has left muslims with nothing that Modi would take away from us”. This statement summarizes the pathetic conditions of the muslims in India.

When the elections did come, the muslims were just as fed up with the Congress as they were with every other party. The result of this was that their votes ended up being divided among many smaller regional parties. The advantage of this was taken by the BJP having destroyed the idea of a “muslim votebank”. As if this weren’t enough, to cement this the BJP undertook a “muslim outreach” programme which confused sections of the muslim community, whose political consciousness was in any case destroyed by decades of Congress rule and polarity.

Thus, we must conclude that Modi’s victory is in truth the combination of various factors which worked to his advantage. Most important of them, is the failure of working class leadership, which failed to build a political alternative to the bourgeoisie and cement the position of the working class as the leading political force in the country despite having arguably one of the best political opportunity in the history of the country. The energy that was unleashed by the pre-revolutionary period in India, and the mobilizations which occurred, were thus wasted away first by misleaders like the AAP and then by the BJP which used the petty bourgeois rage and discontent to propel itself to an unprecedented position of power.

What are the consequences of Modi’s victory ?

A preview of the future of India may be seen not only in Modi’s Gujarat but in TMC ruled West Bengal as well. Both nationally and worldwide there appears to be a reactionary wave underway. The revolutions in Middle East and North Africa all appear to be fading. Europe after a rise of worker’s struggles too has calmed down, while in the Americas, the forces of counter-revolution are re-emerging with a vengeance.

India too is witnessing a reactionary wave symbolized by Modi’s rise to power, and other reactionary forces like the RSS re-emerging after being dormant for almost a decade. A popular saying goes that “What India thinks tomorrow Bengal thinks today” . This seems to have come true for the worse rather than for the better. The failure of Stalinism is what has resulted in the victory of the TMC in West Bengal today and it was the failure of Stalinism and bourgeois and petty bourgeois alternatives which has resulted in the victory of Modi. Ironically, just like in the case of the TMC the BJP too won a massive majority in these elections. The TMC dominates the seats from West Bengal in the lower house of the parliament having won 31 out of 42 seats.

Yet if West bengal is any indicator, the immediate future will see a period of great chaos and conflict. The TMC when it came to power in the state elections engaged in violently consolidating its political power within the state. It didn’t hesitate in turning on the Maoists who had hitherto acted in helping it fight the Left Front. Neither did it hesitate to turn on the Gorkha National Front which were allies to the TMC till now. Today, West Bengal is in a state of chaos with the bands of lumpen goons under the command of the TMC wreaking havoc across the bengali countryside and in the cities. The TMC oligarchs rule with impunity taking the law into their own hands and brutally crushing any opposition. The party functions in a way that borders on outright fascism with harsh laws against organization and dissent. Gujarat has had a similar story.

Upon coming to power in Gujarat, Modi first eliminated his political opponents, both from within the party and from without. Consolidating political power was the first thing Modi did when in power a part of which was to conduct riots and use that to propel him to power. Once entrenched, he went about re-creating Gujarat in the image of a special economic zone where it is notoriously difficult to organize and agitate. The marginalization of muslims starting from the great purge in 2002 has gone on unabated. His state functions on the dual pillars of communalism and brutally neo-liberal economic policies. The former is the source of his political power and the latter the outcome of his economic power. His style of governance involves tight security

While it is infinitely more difficult to implement such policies on a national scale, we can expect him to try and implement it. This will cause tremendous tension from those resisting his policies. Even within Gujarat, where Modi rules with impunity, his rule is not unchallenged. A great example of this is in Mithi Virdi where thousands are protesting against a nuclear power plant project. This is being touted as Gujarat’s “nandigram”. For those of us who may have forgotten, the peasant’s protests at Nandigram, and the subsequent reaction of the Left Front led state government is what brought down the government from power. There have also been encouraging examples of worker’s strikes in Gujarat like the recent one in the textile sector. This led to the government increasing worker’s daily wages.

The rest of the country is even more volatile. For Modi to reign in on the entirety of class struggle would require a herculean effort. Even Thatcher couldn’t survive the fight against the class conscious British working class. Her government fell after ten years of fighting the British working class and no Tory government could come to power till the present one in alliance with the liberals. The Indian working class is on the move, and it will be just as difficult to curb it. This does not mean, we take things for granted.

How must we prepare ?

What this election shows is the bankruptcy of the traditional leaderships of the working class. We must fight for a new radical leadership for the working class, one which can fight on a war footing with the new reactionary government in power. It is not that class struggle has ended, or that people actually ‘prefer’ a reactionary and autocratic leadership at the helm. It is a fact that they saw no alternative in the feeble traditional leaderships around them. The result has been the election of a reactionary government in an unprecedented position of power. The present situation will bring new challenges in organizing the working class and poor for struggle. The attacks against them will not stop, rather it will grow sharper. Like Modi has shown in Gujarat, and how Mamta has shown the way in Bengal, the state will grow more aggressive. Building a revolutionary Bolshevik Leninist party becomes the need of the hour !

For those of us who are in the process of building this party, must prepare for the worst possible scenario. State owned companies will be privatized, labor laws will become more adverse, they will attempt to crush unions, curb free speech and increase militarization of the state. To counter this, we must organize more aggressively, for their every attack, we must prepare a massive counter. To every attempt at privatization, we must mobilize the workers of state enterprises. Here again, we state that it is time to shed the bureaucratic fragmentation of the workers by the sector they work with. ALL state sector workers must unite in their struggles against privatization. When they attempt at changing labor laws or curbing militant unions, we must ready the workers for an indefinite general strike ! When they attempt to curb free speech, we must mobilize activists across the country to challenge it. It has been done before, when Binayak Sen was unlawfully imprisoned or Shaheen Dhada was being harassed, everyone showed their support. Such must be our fervor.

There are those who are pessimistic and think that Modi and the forces which support him are unchallengeable. To them we have only to show the brave textile workers in Gujarat or the thousands of peasants at Mithi Virdi who are on struggle. Modi’s british precursor, the autocratic and megalomaniac Margaret Thatcher, couldn’t withstand the working class on the move. Not to forget, Modi and the RSS’ ideological mentor, Benito Mussolini. was ignominiously lynched on a lamp post. No matter how overbearing or ruthless the class enemy may seem, they are no match for the power of the working class in struggle !

The new government is going to make life difficult for the masses and for those fighting for their interests. But it will also get rid of any illusion that they may have on bourgeois democracy. The Congress and the Stalinists have been one huge smoke screen. That has now disappeared. This is a time to fight, and we must fight hard !

Long live working class unity ! Struggle until Victory !

Perspective on the work stoppage at Bajaj

The nearly 50 day long tool down action at Bajaj’s Chakan plant was a landmark action by the workers of the Chakan industrial belt, both for it’s duration and the impact it has had in radicalizing the otherwise ‘peaceful’ situation at the Chakan industrial belt. The core issue of the struggle was over the ill-effects of the imposition of total productivity methods at Chakan modelled on the system at Maruti Suzuki and union busting tactics of the management at the Pantnagar plant.

The action at Chakan may be linked to the developments at the Pantnagar plant in Uttarakhand where the workers were deliberately denied from joining the Vishwa Kamgar Kalyan Sangathana ( VKKS ). The harrassment of workers at that plant led to the union at Chakan break the old agreement and make a fresh set of demands targetting an improvement of their working condition. The union leadership however, was limited from the start, by targeting shareholding in the company for workers as a ‘lasting’ means of improving worker’s wages. The leaflet distributed by the union expressed the ideological basis for their demand for shares, the belief in trusteeship, championed by Jamnalal Bajaj. This demand more than any other was what was highlighted by the union.

There were other issues as well. During the meetings, the question of condition of work for contract workers was raised more than once. Bajaj like every other major industry prefers the hiring of contract labor to use of permanent workforce. In the slump period in the auto industry, contract labor again gave way to the use of trainee workers. This together with the total productivity methods, squeezed out the highest possible productivity out of the workers at the plant, not to mention rendered them precarious owing to the contractual nature of work and the temporary or trainee status of the workers. However, the union did not raise these questions concretely in their charter of demands. On the contrary, the allotment of shares, which was stressed by the union, would only aid the management in exploiting the workers. With shareholding, the workers are tied in to the profits and losses of the company, and consequently, hostage to the policy of the management.

At no point was the tool down action directed towards more militant forms of protests like gheraos or factory occupations, or pickets. The result was that the company had a free hand in forcing the trainee workers to work overtime to compensate for production losses due to the tool down. Even though this was illegal, the union leadership preferred a legal course to tackling this than the more militant alternative of installing a gherrao of the factory. However, the enthusiasm of the young workers at the union ( their average age being 26 ), proved to be an inspiration for other workers to join in solidarity. The Shramik Ekta Mahasangh which was the umbrella body of industrial unions in the Chakan belt expressed their solidarity with the workers. However, no tool down action was taken by them.

All in all, the workers at Bajaj had to go on their own. The workers showed both determination and unity in carrying on the tool down action for more than 50 days beginning from the 25th of June till August 14th. This was all despite management tactics of harrassment and attempts to break the strike, not to mention, threats of shifting production away from the Chakan plant to neighboring Aurangabad. In the end the strike was ended ‘unconditionally’. The union leadership under has promised to ‘continue to press for the demands raised by the strike action including wage revision’.

Thus, the work stoppage action ended without any demands conceded, and a murky uncertain future awaits for the suspended workers. The management feels emboldened with its success in ending the struggle without any concessions made, and in potential for shifting production to any other plant in the country.

The unity of workers which has been building up albeit in a somewhat distorted manner since the general strike of 2010, has tremendous implications for the future of the worker’s movement. The Bajaj tool down action represents both the problems and the potential in mobilizing workers in India.

The larger picture :

Though the action at Bajaj ended without consequence, the significance of this work stoppage action can’t be ignored in the larger picture. Since the beginning of market reforms and what is generally called ‘neo-liberal’ growth, the condition of workers in India has become more and more precarious. Contractorization, casualization and rationalization of workforce in addition to privatizations of public companies have added to the burdens of the working class. The ‘boom years’ of the Indian economy also saw the birth of a new phase of class struggle, with the workers at Honda revolting. Soon after, the Gurgaon industrial belt became the scene of the most significant labor movement in recent times centered around Maruti. The rest of the country has not been immune to this. It was not too long since the workers at Mahindra’s Nasik plant struck work after the arrest of it’s union leadership there.

With worsening conditions of work, and the entry of millions upon millions of freshly proletarianized peasant populations ( people who’ve been rendered wage slaves due to loss of subsistence income from the countryside, pushed into the cities or factories to find work ), a new young working class has been created out of the most rebellious and desperate section of india’s populace. The increasing intensity of struggles, with frequent cases of workers turning violent, is an unsurprising outcome of the brutality of the system upon the lives of these populations. With shrinking stable job opportunities, owing to a stagnation of organized employment, most of these wage slaves end up with the worst kind of work in the unorganized sector, if not end up unemployed yet again.

The increase of this reserve labor has strengthened the ability of capitalists to impose their will upon the workers. It is not for no reason that the management at Bajaj could compensate the loss of man hours as easily with trainee workers. The system favored him, but the times are against him. The world crisis has affected india, and the problems of a proletarianizing economy founded on the systematic destruction of peasants and petty bourgeois, has come crashing in. Workers become more rebellious and there is an ever present danger of it becoming violent. The example of Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt stands as a warning before the greedy bourgeois.

With this new method of exploitation, there have been new movements of resistance against it. The movement for organizing contract workers for decent, secured job opportunities through their regularization, epitomizes this. The proliferation of contractorisation in Indian industry has given new impetus to the movement to organize contract workers. There is not a single major company where contractorisation has not taken roots, and consequently, there is an ever present struggle against the conditions which it brings about. This is one area which can combine the struggles of workers in private industry with those in public industry where contractorisation is emerging in a major way. Take the case of BSNL where almost 100000 workers work as ‘outsourced’ contract workers. But while the significance of the struggle seems obvious, the nature of the movement is restrained to a company specific approach. No focussed effort seems to be in place to create a movement of all workers against contractorisation uniting both public and private sector workers. Building such unity is the need of the day !

This is not unconnected with the developments in the public sector. The crisis has forced the government to aggressively target the public sector for increased privatizations. The results have been a spree of strike actions by workers against privatization. Coal India Ltd, BSNL, Neyvelli lignite have all been witness to workers protesting efforts at privatizing these companies. These have so far been successful in restraining any efforts at completing the privatizations of these companies. The question of contract workers and overall, the question of improving work conditions are not unrelated to this. Privatization brings with it a worsening of working conditions, and increasing precariousness of work. The workers of the public sector companies are essentially waging a defensive struggle against privatization and against losing the security that comes with state ownership. This stands in contrast with the actions in the private sector where existing conditions of work are being challenged.

The public sector is a fortress for the working class, and a lifeline for giving sustainable secured employment. It accounts for a majority of organized workforce in the country as well as being in the commanding height of the economy. Uniting the workers of these two sectors would strengthen the working class in their struggle against Indian capitalism. This would not be possible without the necessary political leadership.

The liberal economy and its effects upon Indian agriculture

– [ The article is written by Comrade Ephraim Rahabi based in Durgapur West Bengal. Though the article deals primarily with the effects of India’s economic transition upon the agrarian sector various other issues are dealt in this article as well dealing with the class forces at play ]

CAPITALIST POLICIES AND ITS HARSH EFFECTS ON THE PROLETARIAT OF INDIA

The real face of the bourgeois government in India has been unmasked in its attitude towards the masses. Recently the government once again decided to raise the price of petrol by Rs 2.50 and the common people who are being continually crushed under the iron heels of inflation are being forced to bear the brunt of this intolerable situation. The crisis of capitalism has shown everywhere the typical nature of the bourgeoisie which transfers the burden of the crisis on the shoulders of the working class and its allies. Naturally, the bourgeois class is benefited by this pitiless exploitation of the people. This is why the Indian bourgeois through its chief political apparatus, the Indian National Congress is so interested to keep on increasing the burden of the proletarians to ‘bail out’ the capitalist class.

FALLACIOUS AND NONSENSICAL ARGUMENT

The government says that in order to ameliorate the harshness of the inflation it is necessary to remove the subsidies from petroleum products because if it is provided at a subsidized rate then it would also be necessary to increase the money supply into the economy by other means (like, printing new currency) which would inevitably lead to an inflationary situation. The reality is that India today has an enormous internal debt burden which constitutes over half of the Indian GDP! Till date the government kept on piling this debt situation till breaking point by way of public borrowings. This was done to keep the rate of inflation down, however that is set to change now that the bourgeois is trying to find new ways of curbing debt. So the logic appears to be towards preferring a rise in inflation and burden the poor so as to curb the debt of the state! This debt situation is of course blamed quite conveniently on the vast public sector edifice the Indian bourgeois still maintains whereas in reality we find that the government has always adopted a policy of subsidizing the rich at the expense of the poor. Using these phony arguments the mendacious bourgeoisie intend to befool the people and hide the real situation. The state gave a tax subsidy and other economic privileges of Rs 500000 crores to the various MNCs and big corporate houses. Where was their serious headache about inflation while they were burdening the pockets of the crony capitalists? More than 75% of the Indian people earn less than Rs 20 a day and these fake messiahs of the poor are always on the prowl of depriving the toiling masses even of their last penny.

PROFIT AND LOSS : THE BOURGEOIS CAT AND MOUSE GAME

The bourgeoisies are however quite satisfied with this “developmental strategy” the government. As the subsidies for various objects are lowered or removed completely, these items enter the open market and the so called “open market forces” start the misuse of essential commodities for profit making(for example: buying cheap food grains from the market at “reasonable prices” and using them to make produce bio-fuels. This has become one of the factors for nearing conditions similar to famine as it is depriving the poor people of their staple food).Whenever the prices of raw materials increases the bourgeoisie take it as an opportunity to further increase their profits, whereas, the proletarians are forced to face all the difficulties as their incomes are not indexed to the rise in prices; when an inflation occurs the bourgeoisie get a chance to hike the prices of commodities produced by their firms(and thereby, maximize their profits) but the wages of the workers doesn’t increase in tandem with the rise in prices of commodities. So, when the bourgeois leaders boldly declare that inflation has lowered that is due to the fact that the proletarians have got sufficiently squeezed by it,otherwise, it would have continued ad infinitum. For example, if we have a look at the fishermen, we will see that the price at which they used to sell a particular item(for example, giant crabs) remains the same(Rs 4 to 5 per giant crab is the usual rate), but, in the present situation they will have to pay much more for the diesel to run the engines of their fishing boats. Whereas, the owners of 3 or 5 star hotels will now get a chance to make even greater profits by increasing the price of various dishes of Giant crab(which used to be approximately Rs 800 per plate). Recently, the price of sugar(an essential commodity) soared up to Rs 65 per kilogram, but what were the farmers benefiting from that? NOTHING!!! Rather some sugarmill owners who are well known for being “close” to some bourgeois leaders were benefiting from it. Not surprisingly, one of the major “Sugar barons” of India is a member of Parliament and part of the ruling coalition!

UPA GOVERNMENT’S “LONG TERM MEASURES”

The bourgeois government in place is weakening the PDS system on one hand by reducing subsidies on various essential commodities and on the other hand they are making plans for extending green revolution to eastern India; the green revolution, till now, has only benefited “rich and prosperous” farmers(who are actually nothing else than Kulaks).Merely increasing expenditure on pulses and oilseeds is nothing but an eyewash, the govt also intends to remove fertilizer subsidy, which will  further raise the prices of fertilizers and add to the woes of the marginal peasants. The UPA govt also plans to open up the entire agricultural sector to the MNCs and their so called “retail trade”, their nonsensical talks about “bringing down the differences between farm gate, wholesale and retail prices” is only aimed at veiling the truth, and the truth is: they are welcoming the corporate powers to intrude into the agricultural sector of Indian economy. The proposed policy of “contract farming” would surely lead to proletarianizing the weakest section of the peasantry and aid the capitalists by providing a fresh flow of cheap exploitable labor. The Government has also declared that it would “encourage” the capitalists to set up cold storage facilities and “trading” of agricultural commodities at farmgate prices, thus, ensuring huge profits for the blackmarketeers who would buy those commodities at farmgate prices, create an artificial scarcity by hoarding and then sell them at skyrocketing prices. The most notorious blackmarketeers created an artificial famine-like situation in West Bengal in the 1960s and 1970s and relentlessly received backing from the bourgeois leaders of that period. Not too different from the situation in Bengal during the great famine of 1946 which killed around 5 million in Bengal and surrounding provinces.

OUR TASKS

As we are increasingly faced with an agrarian crisis of the most acute nature, the workers in the cities and their peasant allies in the countryside are faced with the most aggressive face of their mutual class enemy. As Bolshevik Leninists and revolutionary Marxists it would be our foremost duty to organize the agricultural laborers and marginal peasants who have been bearing the brunt of this inhuman neoliberalism of the bourgeois government. Our aim, now more than ever, would be to strike an urban-rural alliance against the Indian bourgeoisie and its devious designs. In this the role of rural proletarians are significant being the working class equivalent in the countryside. The agricultural labourers are the only true proletarians in the agricultural sector and in this hour of crisis the duty of the Trotskyists would be to unite the agricultural labourers and marginal peasants in a relentless political struggle against the bourgeois forces so as to safeguard the democratic rights of the downtrodden masses.

LONG LIVE THE ANTI-CAPITALIST DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION!!!

LONG-LIVE THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION!!!

DOWN WITH NEOLIBERALISM AND IMPERIALISM!!!

ALWAYS TOWARDS SOCIALISM!!!