Summary: Below is the text of a flyer that was written by Lalan, a worker in Nagpur, India, and translated by Arvind Ghosh, for the General Strike in India which on 8-9th of January saw 150 million workers went on strike, including workers in transport, financial services, and both state-owned and private industries – Editors.
Industries not in private hands, nor with the government, but in the hands of workers!
All workers should participate enthusiastically in the All India workers strike on 8th January!
Long live the revolution!
Workers of the world unite!
Nowadays companies in our country do not run by rules, they run by bullying! Here are two examples from the city of Nagpur. In one of the companies here, if tobacco is found in the possession of a worker, he is fined Rs 2000 and is not allowed to work for 3-4 days. In another company operators used to get Rs 350 for 8 hours of work and were provided with a helper each to assist them in their work. The workers of this company were suddenly paid off their dues and now the owner is offering Rs 300 for 12 hours of work and without a helper. Thus in place of Voluntary Retirement, the workers are being forced to quit their jobs.
In these difficult times all the National Unions in India (except BMS which is sponsored by the ruling party BJP) have given a call for a nationwide strike on 8th January. We must participate in this strike enthusiastically and take the workers struggle forward towards emancipation of our class as well as all other oppressed masses against Capitalism.
Friends, as we know- this All India Strike is not happening for the first time. This has occurred every year since 2011. It so happens that the unions belonging to the ruling party withdraw from the strike under one pretext or the other and the strike is reduced to a mere show of strength by the remaining unions. The strike fails to become a struggle of workers themselves; their own initiative. The unions are registered under state laws and have their own limitations. They cannot go against the state. Moreover the very structure of the unions are top down which does not encourage workers own initiatives to take the struggle forward. The unions as we have seen many times, take a step forward and then suddenly take the step back. Two recent examples are: the All India Defense Workers’ indefinite strike notice which was withdrawn after a few days due to intimidation issued to the union leaders by the government, and second, the All India Bank Workers strike which dropped on a mere assurance by the Bank management.
Today in India we have reached the age of machines which our Prime Minister proudly calls “Skill India”, wherein competition between Industries is at its height. Of late, the government-run enterprises have decided to be the weaker side in competition with private enterprises. As a result the government enterprises are showing huge losses. This is why BSNL (telephone company run by the government) and enterprises like Air India, Bengal Chemicals and many other government industries are showing losses and are on the verge of being closed with the tragic consequence for workers in these Industries. Government is providing all the resources at its disposal to the private capitalists, whereby capitalists are gaining profits at the cost of the state, whereas it should have been the opposite, i.e. if the costs are borne by the state, the benefits ought to go to the entire society. We should advance our struggle on the basis of this very principle wherein we workers shouldn’t merely make a show of our strength but continuously intensify our struggle with this slogan: industries not in private hands, nor in the hands of the government but should be in the hands of the workers themselves!
Today, there is a merger of National and International Capital and intense exploitation of cheap labor in the interest of the expansion of Capital on a world scale. The slogan of “Make in India” actually means an invitation to international Capital to invest in and exploit cheap labor available here, while scrapping all the pro-worker laws which the workers had won through centuries of struggle and more. In many countries these developments are accompanied by the rise of Neo-Fascist movements. India is no exception. Changes in the labor laws related to employment in India brought about by the present government, is an example. Furthermore, Banking Capital is made available to the private Capital in easy terms. The ongoing privatization of Indian Railways and Air India at the cost of the government are examples in point. The present government believes that Indian economy will thrive if the enterprises are handed over cheaply to private hands! However due to a severe ongoing crisis in Indian Economy, most private enterprises too are running huge losses and many private industrialists have declared themselves bankrupt. Quite a few of them have become involved in Bank frauds. In these critical times handing over government enterprises into private hands is nothing short of a disaster for the workers in India.
The Indian bourgeoisie and their present government have brought in, through government legislature, low paid contract workers in place of permanent workers. Worse still, they are now replacing contract workers with still cheaper daily wage workers whose wages are fixed for a year. These workers do not get any of the benefits from the government that permanent and contract workers get. The daily workers are not even entitled to challenge this blatant discrimination in court.
Friends! We are facing unprecedented repression today in the hands of this neo-fascist bourgeois government in power. We will have to face and fight all the ill effects of this evil system till we succeed to end it through our struggles. The unions as they are today are incapable of fighting to end this system, since they see struggle in terms remaining confined within the system and keeping the system alive. The members are expected to follow the instructions from above and hence these struggles have very little potential to become workers own struggles. The Unions normally call for a symbolic strike of a day or two and wait for another year before giving another call. They know too well that if the battle is transformed into a battle to end the wage system, the struggles will be led not by them but the workers themselves through their own organizations. Today we need to fight our economic struggles militantly and take our struggles to reach our goal i.e. to end the capitalist system and build a new society free from exploitation and all forms of oppression. We have to make a new beginning towards this goal. Revolution will rise again through workers struggles, and as Rosa Luxemburg had declared a century ago the Revolution “will proclaim with trumpets blazing: I was, I am, I shall be!”