Once Again Tokenism :: A Note by IFTU (Sarwahara) on One Day All India General Strike Called on 2nd September

Posted on August 31, 2015

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Against the massive assault on the interest of working class, one day nationwide general strike called on 2nd September by Central Trade Unions (CITU, INTUC, HMS BMS and others)

A Note by IFTU (Sarwahara)

“Once Again Tokenism”

On 2nd September 2015, CITU, AITUC, AICCTU, IFTU (New Democracy), HMS and BMS and few others have once again called for a country wide “one day strike” against the extensive anti-working class action being taken by the Modi Government by amending the provisions of Labour laws. They have particularly appealed to the working class to make this strike a success. IFTU (Sarwahara) supports the working class demands that forms the part of the agenda of this strike and so is not against the strike. Having said this, however, the real question arises as such: Is this call for a “one day strike” is, in genuineness a call for a struggle? Isn’t it,   in reality, an attempted act to evade from struggle? Till when we will have this “one day strike”? Tokenism in name of struggle will go on for how long? The history and our own experience of these token strikes called by the central trade unions and federations since 1991 reveal that this tokenism is but an escape route to run away from the working class struggles and certainly not a call for a genuine working class action. When the history of the working class defeat will be penned, then these tokenism will be held as one of the major internal factors that led to the wkg class defeat. When the need of the hour is to build up a movement that can compel the capitalist-fascist government to halt its attacks on the working class as well as smash its bloated ego, then what is the logic of calling for such one day token strikes is understandable.

The place that such “one day strikes” have in the working class struggle needs to be understood here. These are like “flag march” of the detachments of the workers, through which the working class cautions the bourgeoisie and its government that if the assault does not stops then it will lead to battle on the streets. Thus, “flag march” can happen once, twice or even thrice. The point to ponder over here is: If, even after such marches, the capitalist assault continues, will workers still continue to do the flag march or will prepare for the combat? But we find since 1991 that these unions have done the “Flag March” for umpteen times and they are still doing it. They are not ready to move to the second i.e higher stage of struggle. They cannot think about a fight, even in their dream. And on the other hand, the assault on the working class continues unabated. The bastions of the working class are crumbling one after the other. These unions have made blunt this form of struggle i.e “Flag March” (One day token strike as a warning) which was once a critical weapon in the arsenal of the working class. They have converted it into a means of concealing their escapism thus disgracing and tarnishing it completely. The result is that the perpetual practice of tokenism has taken it toll on the moral of working class by killing the workers’ aspirations for struggles with each passing of the day.

We saw the result of the 6-10 January (5 days) “historic” Coal India strike. Not only the strike was called off after 2 days, but BMS, and behind  it all the other unions (including CITU and AITUC) was seen fleeing from the battle and sitting in lap of Modi’s Govt. The working class could not prevent the Coal Ordinance from being passed. Today again, under the leadership of same BMS, the same deserter left unions and federations are undertaking one day strike against the Labour Laws reforms. Therefore its outcome is very well known even before its beginning. In a way, It is an indication to the government that now we have done the ritual of struggle, you do now whatever you want to do.

And, this is sure to happen. As we were unable to prevent the Coal India Ordinance, similarly we will fail to get the labour laws amendments revoked, due to the incongruity of these unions.

The extent of harm that these unions have bestowed on the workers movement, can be gauged from the fact that during the 6-10 January ‘historic Coal India strike’ they were silent on the labour laws amendments. Today they are howling at the labour laws amendments and are silent on the coal ordinance bill that was passed, and there is no word on revoking it. If due to their incompetence, defeatist and lackadaisical attitude, the provision to do away with the existing labour laws is passed, then should we understand that they will end all struggles against the passing of such amendments? What else than this will be a bigger service to the bourgeoisie and it’s Government?

In this situation, everything now rests in the hands of the working class and its truly advance rank and file spread throughout the country. How to get away with the quagmire of the central trade unions and what are the ways to get out of it, will depend on their preparedness and maturity. But what we wish to declare unambiguously today is that without getting out of the morass created by the central trade unions, thought of any meaningful struggle is a wishful thinking. This will happen only when the advance elements of the working class would take an initiative from within at the national level to demolish the present impasse created by these renegade unions, and take up full initiative to build the unity of working class. No doubt, the necessity of a single, united and a truly revolutionary vanguard of the working class is being deeply felt here, in the absence of which the main responsibility lies directly on the strong shoulder of its advance elements.

That is why, we call upon all the advance elements of the working class to expose those who have reneged on the class struggle by decoupling the working class from it, and have established a series of blunt “one day strikes” bringing the working class movement to such a sorry state. The time has come to take up the daunting task of creation of a nationwide revolutionary centre of workers movement. We are divided, yet we are the only real vanguard elements of the working class and we should initiate it unitedly right now.

It is to be noted that IFTU(Sarwahara), had declared its intention immediately after debacle of the 5 days strike in January. We noted that there is no possibility of a significant working class struggle and that is why we are moving towards the formation of a new national revolutionary forum of the working class. IFTU(Sarwahara) once again declares that these unions might be bigger in terms of numbers and size, but they have no future, as they have renegaded from the working class interest. On the other hand we or the unions like us may be smaller in size, but we have the future because we are the vanguard of the working class in terms of its both immediate and the long-term interests, and are in the struggle with firm conviction on working class.

We have not accepted defeat, whereas the other unions pretentiously carrying the Red Flag have not only accepted defeat, but they have found a safe haven of their own in the capitalist system itself. They can have small skirmishes with the bourgeoisie but are hand in glove with them. They have accepted to adjust with neo-liberalism and to harmonise their moves after some displeasure with them. They have accepted that the onslaught of capitalism-fascism is destined and have happily limited themselves to some petty reforms. This becomes palpable after witnessing their ground work and seeing how they have made for themselves a definite place in the management, government and the existing system.

The sum total of our above statement is that when the working class is unarmed amidst the massive onslaught of the capitalism-fascism, then the 2nd September ceremonial (one day) strike is a whimper. This nowhere arouses the hope of struggle among the vulnerable and dejected workers. This is not a call for the workers to arise against the exploitation and oppression.

Workers brothers and sisters, today we are in such a situation that we are being mugged by force and deceit. Hence we appeal to all the advance elements of the working class and particularly to our IFTU(S) comrades that we have to understand this dual task that is before us. It is not only arduous but tortuous. We appeal to our IFTU(S) comrades that during the 2 September strike we will have to boost our organisational, political and ideological activities among the workers. On one hand it is our duty that in spite of central trade unions’ ceremonial, defeatist attitude we counter the capitalist-fascist forces who oppose this strike. We need to agitate the workers in a mammoth way against the anti-workers steps being taken in the guise of labour amendments by the Modi’s government, and prepare them for the epic working class struggle that will be waged in the present and future. On the other side, it is our cardinal duty to expose the central trade unions who have enmeshed the entire strength of the working class and limited it to just “One day strike”, we would expose their incompetent and renegade character. We have to understand that we have to utilise this event to educate the working class by all possible means and to take the goal of the creation of revolutionary working class centre to the widest possible sections of the working class.

Let us participate in the 2 September strike with the following declaration:

End the ceremonial One day Strike, unite for a decisive, momentous militant struggle

*Jointly issued by comrade Shekhar, Damodar and Kanhai for the central committee of Indian Federation of Trade Unions (Sarwahara)

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