Union Power United Can Never be Defeated

The New Trade Union Initiative salutes all trade union organisations and our membership who mobilised for the unprecedented Mahapadav at Parliament on 9th, 10th and 11th November 2017 of nearly two lakh workers spread over the three days. The participation at the Mahapadav was truly countrywide and representative of every section of the working class and every sector of work. The mobilisation was richer and remarkable through the participation of a large number of women workers especially ‘honorarium’ workers.

With much of Parliament Street closed to traffic and the precinct around it awash in red, it was not an action that the media, or anyone else, could have missed. The media, however, almost entirely blacked out the protest. This is in part the outcome of the increasing large corporate ownership of media organisations as also the generalised attack on freedom of speech and the media by the BJP government and the Sangh Parivar.

Also despite the strength, vigour and the celebration of the Mahapadav it was less than successful in engaging those not directly connected with it. This is the reflection of the lack of political resonance of workers’ demands and workers’ rights. Changing this and connecting with a wider constituency of working people remains a challenge for the trade union. This is critical to alleviate the climate of fear that the BJP government has been able to create especially amongst the most exploited and dispossessed.

The BJP government made a last minute feeble attempt to dialogue with 9 of the 10 Central Trade Union Organisations that had issued the call for the protest while keeping the INTUC out. This clearly brought out the BJP government’s determination to go ahead with its political agenda of ensuring ‘ease of business’ at the cost of workers and their rights and to dismantle the existing framework of dialogue between government and trade unions without offering an alternative. Just as the strike of 2nd September 2016 was, the Mahapadav too is a message, from the working class, to an unresponsive and callous government. The right to an eight hour day, the right to freedom of association, the right to a just minimum wage and the right to universal social security are not rights that the progressive trade unions will give up the fight on.

Following the Mahapadav, the 10 CTUOs have called for an intensification of the struggle in the last week of January 2018 leading up to the Budget Session of Parliament. As the NTUI has done in the past, it will join these protests. At a time like this, of unprecedented attack, the CTUOs would do well to open up the process of consultation, while announcing a programme of action, with all national trade union centres including those that do not enjoy government recognition. This is particularly important when the BJP government is trying to attack tripartism itself and seeking to address the demands of the working class through an organisation of the Sangh Parivar’s choice.

The joint Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) and NTUI support and participation in the Mahapadav marks an important point of unity. This platform of unity, too, needs to be strengthened and expanded. This will remain the NTUI’s objective. Its through a democratic engagement alone that we can build militant union power which when united can never be defeated.

Mazdoor Ekta Zindabad!

Inquilab Zindabad!

Gautam Mody

General Secretary

For photos click here