Srirampur- West Bengal – 6th All India Conference of Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) Calls for Intensifying Struggle

The sixth All India Conference of IFTU was held at Srirampur, Hoogly, West Bengal on 12th and 13th April, 2015. It was preceded by a rally on 11th April evening through the town which is known for the India Jute Mill situated there. The union of the workers here is led by IFTU. The rally was followed by a public meeting addressed by leaders of National Committee (NC) of IFTU at Saifuddin Grounds (Mahesh Sanpiri Ground renamed for the rally in memory of Com. Saifuddin Vice-president of IFTU).
Delegates coming for the conference were greeted by a huge red archway marking the entrance to Com. Paltu Sen Nagar, wherein the Maya Bhawan (and an adjoining building housing delegates) or the residential complex was called Ram Naresh Tyagi Hall, named after Treasurer of IFTU who died in an accident in 2013. The common eating space for all delegates was named in the memory of Com. H.M. Upadhyay (Vice-president of IFTU). 327 delegates from different unions affiliated to IFTU along with 17 observers attended the Conference. The delegates were from Telengana, Punjab. Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Delhi, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Maharashtra apart from the members of NC. Thus 11 states where IFTU has work were represented in the Conference.
The delegates were drawn from mining (coal and uranium), jute, textile and electronics industries, bidi and construction industries, power plants and transport sector, industrial workers including of engineering, pharmaceuticals, automobile, steel, biscuit and other industries, hospitals, airport and other sectors including agricultural research, paper industry, brick kilns besides representatives of auto workers, loaders and hamalis. The delegates included representatives of regular and contract workers. The representatives were of the workers engaged in Govt. and public sector undertakings as well as private industries. Workers from different sectors of economy and different types of employment were represented at the Sixth All India Conference of IFTU.
On 11th April evening, a Rally began from outside Ram Naresh Tyagi Bhawan. Led by NC members holding aloft towering red flags, the delegates followed with the banners of their state committees, raising rousing slogans in different languages. They were followed by IFTU members from Srirampur and other areas of the host state. The Rally marched to Com. Saifuddin grounds next to Netaji Hall, where a public meeting was held, presided over by Com. D.V. Krishna, President of IFTU. Com. Ravi Joshi invited him and other speakers to the dias. The speakers were Com. Pradeep (General Secretary IFTU), Com. V.K. Patole (Secretary IFTU), Com. P. Prasad (Secretary IFTU) and NC members Com. Aparna, Com. Raj Singh and Com. Sujan Chakravorty. Com. Meghnad from West Bengal and members of Arunodaya from Telengana also helped in marking the occasion with their revolutionary songs.
On 12th April 2015, the Inaugural Session beginning at 11 AM. marked the start of the Conference at Com. Paltu Sen Hall (Gopal Das Nag Bhawan). It began with flag hoisting by the IFTU President Com. D. V. Krishna to rousing sloganeering by delegates in honour of martyrs. Songs remembering martyrs and in honour of the red flag were sung by Meghnad and Arunodaya comrades.
The delegates then seated themselves in the Hall while General Secretary Com.Pradeep invited IFTU President Com. D.V. Krishna, Chairman of the Reception Committee Dr. Punyabrata Gun, Chief Guest- JNU Professor Emeritus and renowned economist, Dr. Amit Bhaduri as well as fraternal delegates from AIKMS, NTUI, TUCI and NDLF onto the dias. Homage was paid to martyrs with a minute’s silence and then the Chief Guest and Chairman of the Reception Committee garlanded the photographs of Com. Paltu Sen and Com. Saifuddin.
Chairman of the Reception Committee Dr. Gun, welcomed the delegates to the all India Conference and outlined the challenges before the working class. He also spoke about the campaign by West Bengal based Shramjivi Swasthya Udyog for Health for All, with which he is associated. Then the Chief Guest Dr. Amit Bhaduri delivered the inaugural address. Copies of the synopsis of his address in different languages had earlier been given to the delegates. He stated that there is a systematic attack on employment all over the world and contractualization of jobs is not only a means to cut costs of production but a means to disorganize the workers as well. He said the issue of land acquisition by amending provisions of LARR Act of 2013 was of serious import.
After the inaugural address, Com. Vijay Kumar of NDLF (Tamilnadu), Com. Vasudevan President of NTUI and Com. Aneek Chakravorty of TUCI addressed the delegates. General Secretary of All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS) Com. Sushanto Jha gave a clear and detailed exposition of the attacks on the peasantry and opposed Ordinance of the Modi Govt. to facilitate forcible land acquisition by amending provisions of LARR Act, 2013.
After lunch began the business session of the Conference. General Secretary Com. Pradeep proposed a five member Presidium consisting of Coms. D.V. Krishna, Raj Singh, Byas Tiwari, Aparna and Sujan Chakravorty, with NC acting as the Steering Committee. As the House accepted the proposal, he announced that the old NC’s tenure was completed. The Presidium then called on Com. Aparna to present the document “Call to the Working Class’ before the delegates.
The Call of the Conference outlined the current situation of the working class, attacks against the working class and the current tasks emanating from this situation. It had been discussed in all area, district and state conferences and was now presented here with an addition. The NC had added a central slogan to the Call- “Oppose the attacks on labour laws, Fight for their implementation”. The Call called for struggle for regularization of contract labour, for equal wages for equal work, for union registration within 45 days of application, for universal social security to all workers and against privatization and disinvestment. It also called for building struggles against pro-imperialist policies, extending solidarity to revolutionary peasant movement and for working class to speak out against communalization, caste exploitation, upper caste chauvinism, against oppressive laws and repression on people’s struggles and in support of fulfillment of democratic aspirations of people of Jammu & Kashmir and North East. After the Call was presented, the Presidium announced a short break while those who wanted to speak on the document gave their names.
Delegates from various states offered various suggestion to improve and strengthen the Call. After the Steering Committee deliberations, Com. Aparna explained its position on the various proposals along with the long list of accepted suggestions. Following this the Call was adopted by the Conference.
This was followed by an authoritative presentation by Com. Pradeep of the All India Organizational Report of the National Committee covering a long period since the last conference held in Eluru in 2006. The Report had earlier been circulated in different languages among the delegates. He particularly stressed the Review points presented in the document and explained them to the delegates. With this the session was declared closed for the day.
The second day, 13th April, was the anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre by British colonialists. The Conference reconvened and held a minute’s silence in tribute to the anti-colonial martyrs, following which Com. Avtar from Punjab sang a rousing tribute in Punjabi. Then the delegates settled down to business and several delegates offered their comments and suggestions on the Organizational Report. These were considered by the Steering Committee and Com. Pradeep announced the comments of the Committee which accepted most of the suggestions to strengthen the Report. The Report was passed amidst thunderous applause and slogan shouting. One of the points accepted was to work towards forming an all India organization of construction workers.
Then the delegates proceeded to elect the new National Committee. On behalf of the outgoing NC, Com. Pradeep presented the proposal for the new panel. He proposed a new NC of 21 members with 18 members to be elected at the Conference. The panel consisted of Com. Aparna as President, three Vice-presidents, Com. D.V. Krishna, Com. V.K. Patole and Com. Byas Tiwari; Com. Pradeep as General Secretary; Coms. P. Prasad, Com. Raj Singh and Com. Sujan Chakravorty as three secretaries, and Com. Animesh as Treasurer. The proposal included as NC members Com. Kulvinder (Punjab), Com. Ravi Joshi (Maharashtra), Com. Radhey Shyam (Uttar Pradesh), Com. Polari (Andhra Pradesh), Coms. V. Krishna, Com. Suryam and Com. T. Shrinivas (Telengana), Com. Suresh Das Kanojia (Bihar) and Com. Ashish from West Bengal. The proposed panel was elected as the new NC amidst resounding slogan shouting.
Com. P. Prasad then proposed several Resolutions before the Conference against the attempts of the government to amend labour laws, for the implementation of these laws, against the Ordinance modifying LARR Act of 2013, on Minimum Wages, on Bidi workers, against Road Safety Bill 2014, against privatization of coal mines, demanding security for women workers at work place and in to and fro transportation to work and back in night shifts, on Construction Workers, demanding protection of Jute sector, supporting struggle of workers of Aurobindo Pharma, and on several other issues.
The Conference issued a Call for May Day to be observed by all IFTU units across the country on the central slogan of the Call document.
The Conference came to an end to the strains of the Internationale. Inspired by the successful conclusion of the Conference, delegates left filled with enthusiasm to build more struggles, organize more workers, extend IFTU and strengthen workers’ movement throughout the country.