INDIA - COUNTRY REPORT BY A.R.SINDHU, CITU, INDIA India is the largest democracy in the world with a population of More than 1 billion (1.2 billion as per Census 2001). It is governed a council of Ministers elected by a two tier parliament, the Lok Sabha (Directly elected) and Rajya Sabha (representative body of the States). India is having 28 states and 7 Union territories. It is having 15 official languages including the national language Hindi. There are more than 300 scheduled languages and over 3000 dialects. Political Situation The process of globalisation started in 1991 in India by the then Congress (I) government. The adverse impact of these policies overthrew the government, which was in power for more than 40 years. but unfortunately to be replaced by a one under the leadership of a communal party. Both the communal agenda and the agenda of globalisation were complementing each other. Communal forces grew fast utilizing the people’s resentment against the globalisation. The globalisation utilized the communalism to divide the people’s resistance movement. The Communal forces under the leadership of BJP had consistently tried to destroy the secular fabric of Indian Democracy. Same time they were vigorously pursuing the LPG policies. Left parties helped to streamline the people’s movement’s against globalisation and communalism. It finally resulted in the defeat of BJP lead NDA government in 2004 general elections. The United Progressive Alliance government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh came to power with the outside support of the left parties on the basis of a common minimum programme. The Common minimum programme promised non privatization of profit making PSUs, Social security to workers, employment guarantee, more government spending in education etc. among others. Indian society is dominated by feudal ideology. The Caste system is prevalent in the country. The worst victims are the majority lower caste people who constitute majority of the low paid workers, land-less agriculturists, and particularly the women. Economic situation Economically India has tremendous potential vis-a -vis both material and human resources. But due to wrong policies pursued by the various governments, at present more than 40% of the people in India live under poverty line (the standard for poverty line also is so sub- human to accommodate maximum people above that) The process of globalisation has put the economy of the country in doldrums. Although the so called intellectuals and the advocates of globalisation is talking about the boost in the economy, unprecedented economic growth rate, high stock market indices etc, the studies shows that the per capita food grain consumption in India in 2003 is less than that at the post second world war time when a famine was there! This was at a time when 60 million tones of food grains were in Government of India’s stocks. The government preferred exporting the food grains in a subsidized rate cheaper than the rates for which it is available to the BPL people. For the last few years, after the quantitative restrictions on import of agricultural products have been removed, the situation in the rural India is one of distress unthinkable. Large scale inter state migration and trafficking of rural workers are taking place, where, in many villages, there are only children and the aged are staying back; there have been suicides of lower and middle peasants (more than 5000 in 4 years period) who are in debt trap and all these are the order of the day. Even in Kerala, a state where social security is comparatively better, in one district with a population of 700,000 over 130 peasants committed suicide in the year 2004 due to debts. Unemployment is one of the biggest problems faced by the country. Instead of trying to solve the problems of the people, the various governments that came to power since 1991, are vigorously pursuing policies at the prescription of the Breton woods institutions which are no way fitting in the priorities of the peoples’ own requirement. The economic policy measures being pursued by the Governments are contributing to job- losses rather than creating employment opportunities. The government itself is leading the frantic downsizing in all its departments resulting in huge job-losses on the one hand and decline in the standards of public utility services in a big way, affecting the entire population. In central public sector units alone more than 6 hundred thousands jobs were lost in last five years in this downsizing process of which banking sector alone accounts for 1,50,000 job losses. The private sector getting encouraged by the downsizing drive of the Govt, are going out of the way, in violation of all statutes, to retrench workforce in every downs and ups in their business thus introducing an extreme uncertainty and fragility in employment relationship besides aggravating the unemployment situation. Downscaling due to modernization, merger and retrenchment on account of closure/shifting of industrial units alone has killed hundreds of thousands of job. The engineering, textile, pharmaceutical etc, are some of the sectors, which have been affected in massive scale in retrenching workers. It is not only the unemployment, but the insecurity in jobs which is a product of globalisation. According to the government the rural employment is on average 60-70 days a year! Withdrawal of government from the social service sector, dismantling of the Public Distribution System, cutting down the allotment for health and education system, etc. added to the woes of the poor and marginalized. That is the Globalisation has brought to India: increased inequality, large scale poverty, unemployment and under employment and reduced purchasing power and slowing down of the economy in spite of big claims. Labour in India Out of total employment in the country (nearly 472 million) nearly 92% is in the unorganized or the informal sector. For this 92% who are not practically covered by any labour legislation, the ILO Conventions become meaningless for them. The main task before the Trade Union movement is to bring them within the legal frame work. The situation of labour in India is the same as that of other developing countries pursuing LPG policies. Privatisation or selling out of the profit making PSUs, downsizing, cotracualisation and casualisation and informalisation labour,of ruin of the small scale and traditional industries through removing import restrictions, large scale migration, decrease in job availability, incrase in home based work, Decline in work participation rate is one feature of globalisation. During the period 1983- 2000, the percentage of persons in the labour force at the national level declined from 66.5% in 1983 to 61.8% in 1999-2000,i.e, a sharp decline of 4.7% in 18 years. For the males this declined from 87.1% to 83.5% and for females from 44.4% to 38.5% during this period. Thereby females are mostly affected. Selling off Public Sector Companies in the name of Privatisation for a pittance to the MNCs and domestic big business, downsizing of government services, privatization of social security etc. are the order of the day. Large scale informalisation of the labour and increased home based work. Large scale exploitation of labour, particularly women of the developing countries, exists in the newly emerged sectors such as IT industry. The non availability of social services increases the unpaid labour, particularly of the women. CENTRE OF INDIAN TRADE UNIONS (CITU) The Trade Union movement in India have a history of struggles not only for immediate monetary benefit of the workers but also on political issues, emerging from the anti colonial freedom movement. CITU, although formed in 1970 coming out of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) inherited the glorious tradition of the freedom movement and carried the legacy of the bitter struggles both under colonial and post independence period. Presently, it has a membership of 35, 00,000 through nearly 4000 affiliated unions in 24 states all over India. This is apart from the agricultural labourers, Banking and Financial Sector and State and Central government employees. In India, the trade unions are registered in the labour departments of various states. Our membership covers all sectors of the working class from the public sector to the private sector to the informal sector workers. It covers sectors like Steel, Coal, Power and Energy, Electronics, Garments, Textiles, Mining, Beedi, Construction, Plantation, Export Processing Units, Head load workers, Rickshaw Pullers, Hawkers, Domestic workers etc. The committees of the CITU from the Unit to the All India level are elected democratically at the conferences, which are held regularly. The highest authority of the CITU is the All India Conference which is held once in three years. The Conference elects All India General Council, which is a representative body. The General Council elects a Working Committee of 125 which elects a 35 member Office bearers. More than half the membership of CITU is from the informal Sector. 20% of the membership is women. The total membership as well as the gender component is increasing. But as the impact of globalisation, the organised sector membership shows a downward trend. Realising the weakness of the TU movement in, enrolling women as trade union members, involving women in activities and promoting them to leadership, CITU has formed an All India Co Ordination Committee of Working Women (AICCWW) in 1979 to promote women’s participation. The women membership has increased from 6% in 1979 to 20% in 2002. The representation of women in the various committees of CITU also has increased, although not satisfactory. The formation and functioning of AICCWW(CITU) helped to some extend in bringing the special problems of women workers both at workplace and within the trade unions, to the attention of the public as well as other Trade Unions. CITU has been publishing three journals from its central headquarters in English and Hindi. A separate monthly journal only for Women Workers, “The Voice of the Working Woman” since 1980, is being published which is the only one of its kind published by any trade union in India. Besides above, the provincial committees of CITU have been regularly publishing monthly journal in respective regional languages. LABOUR LEGISLATION AND GLOBALISATION In the post liberalization period since 1991, there had been two distinct phases of aggression on labour rights, one graduating to and overlapping with the other. First phase is one of non-enforcement of the existing labour laws. Problems of non-enforcement of labour laws had been there in the pre-liberalisation period also. But after the onset of liberalization there has been marked change in the character of non-enforcement. Many state governments have issued written guidelines to end the inspection by the labour inspectors. The second phase is the vigorous initiative to change the labour laws altogether to institutionally legitimize the regime of non-enforcement and violation of labour laws. The trade unions have been ignored in the entire exercise. The Second National Commission on Labour has been constituted with such terms of references which practically predetermined the conclusions. The concrete suggestions of the trade unions regarding terms of reference have been totally ignored and the overwhelming majority of trade unions have not been represented or heard in the consultation process. As expected, the recommendations of the SNCL has given green signal to unfettered right to the employer to lay off, closures, outsource, and the right of the workers including freedom of association and collective bargaining has to be done away with. The changes in labour laws have already been started with amendment in Trade Union Act, with an increase in number of persons necessary for registration from seven to 100 or 10% of the workforce. The industrial disputes Act amendment is proposed to give full freedom for the employer to lay off or close the establishment without prior notice. Factories Act amendment is proposed to lift the ban on Night work for women. But after the change of Government at the center and its dependence on the left parties, those proposed changes in the labour laws could not be implemented as yet. The Judiciary in India also is playing its complementary role in the globalisation process by giving some very adverse judgments against the workers’ rights like one banning the strikes, legitimizing contract labour in work of permanent nature etc. The tripartite mechanism is non functioning. Many statutory and non statutory tripartite committees including on implementation of ILO conventions has not been called for years, by the government. VIOLATIONS OF LABOUR LAWS Almost all the labour laws are continuously being violated. Freedom of Association is violated everywhere. Equal remuneration is non existent in India except for the public sector. Forced and bonded labour exists. Law against Night work of women is violated in factories, particularly export oriented ones. The total child labour in India is 23.17 million as per ILO. There are hundreds of cases of violations. For example, in garments factories in Delhi, there are instances, where women were not allowed to go home at night and were locked up inside the factory and forced to work till morning. CITU is taking up issues by unionizing the workers and through collective bargaining. Although very limited, CITU also utilizes the supervisory mechanism of ILO. (Eg: Case of violation of freedom of Association in Vaizag EPZ) CITU also take up training programmes for the activists in national laws and international labour standards, although not sufficient. CITU and Anti globalisation struggles Since the advent of globalisation, India witnessed many struggles of various sections of the masses in defense of their rights. CITU has been in the forefront of these struggles, continuously mobilizing workers and masses to defend the rights they have achieved through glorious struggles in the past. We are taking up studies on impact of globalisation on various sectors at different levels, educating the workers and general masses on the impact of government policies in their lives, conducting agitations against adverse impacts etc. Whether it is against selling off of profit making PSUs or to defend the freedom of Association and right to strike, CITU took the initiative to bring all the trade unions into one platform. Since the advent of globalisation in 1991, there have been nine countrywide general strikes against the policies of globalisation, the last one being on 24 th February 2004 in which around 60 million workers took active part braving onslaughts from the State administration. The All India strike is apart from various struggles and strike actions in various sectors like Coal, Steel, Electricity, Defense, Textiles, Banking, Insurance, Education, State government employees, etc. CITU is also one of the leading participants of the National Platform of Mass organisations consisting of more than 50 class and mass organisations. CITU believes that only through continuous struggles for the cause of the working class and the toiling masses we will be able to form a just world.