July-August 2014

Table of Contents

  1. Resolution on Unity in Action in Defence of Democracy, Pluralism and People’s Livelihood and Rights

  2. AILC Statement: Protest the Massive Railway Fare Hike

  3. Modi Raj Begins – and Hard Times Kick In

  4. Bury Rajasthan’s Anti-labour Amendments in the Sands of Thar

  5. Lockout at Stump, Schuele, and Somappa: A Citizens’ Fact-finding Report

  6. Jute Workers’ Plight – And Resistance

  7. Badaun and Bhagana Rapes: Grim Reality of Gender and Caste Atrocities

  8. FIFA in Brazil: Ugly Exploitation Undermines Beautiful Football

  9. Socialist Alliance Conference in Australia

Politics in India

Resolution on Unity in Action in Defence of Democracy, Pluralism and People’s Livelihood and Rights

– Liberation, July, 2014.

(adopted by the CPI(ML) Central Committee in its meeting held in Delhi on 25-27 May 2014)

The sweeping victory of the BJP and NDA in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections poses a new challenge to all justice-loving democracy-loving people of India. Even as the new regime starts unveiling its agenda, pronouncements made by various leaders of the new dispensation and cases of hate crime, political terror and police highhandedness being reported from various corners of the country point to a testing time for democracy and communal harmony. Fresh attacks on people’s livelihood in various forms like cuts in transfers to the poor, upward revision in gas prices and FDI limits etc. and selective silence of the new prime minister on a whole range of shocking events mark ominous early portents.

The new government has come to power promising to usher in ‘good days’, but Modi’s Gujarat track record rests on unfettered corporate domination, state-patronised communal violence, systematic misuse of the state apparatus and wholesale violation of constitutional norms and rights and an unmistakably authoritarian mode of governance that stifles dissent in every form and engineers large-scale assaults on people’s rights and liberties.

While championing popular aspirations for basic rights, improved living and good governance, every defender of democracy will have to be vigilant and battle-ready to combat any attempt to replicate and amplify the inherently anti-democratic features of the much-trumpeted Gujarat model on an all-India scale.

The BJP’s unprecedented countrywide electoral ascendance has come not just at the cost of the Congress but also large sections of the non-Congress non-BJP spectrum including the Left. Evidently the big message of these elections for the Left and all other sections of progressive democratic forces is an urgent need for expansion and rejuvenation of the fighting base and capacity of the people’s movement and for wider cooperation and united action.

The CPI(ML) Central Committee hereby makes an ardent appeal to all fellow defenders of democracy to come together against every assault on democracy, pluralism and people’s livelihood and fight hard for the realisation of people’s aspirations and rights and solemnly reiterates the party’s commitment to explore and expand all possible avenues of cooperation and contribute to the development and strengthening of the people’s movement by all means.

Struggles in India

AILC Statement: Protest the Massive Railway Fare Hike

– AILC, 21 June 2014.

The All India Left Coordination (AILC) strongly condemns the massive hike in railway fares by the BJP Government.

The hike, to the extent of 14.2 per cent in all classes and 6.5 per cent in the freight charges, will place a huge additional burden on ordinary people, who are already battling price rise. Commuters and monthly season ticket (MST) holders are the hardest hit by the fare hike, with MST fares being almost trebled in some routes and more than doubled in almost all routes. The increase in freight rates will undoubtedly result in a further escalation of prices of essential commodities that are transported by rail. The ‘achhe din’ (good times) rhetoric has turned very quickly into ‘bure din’ reality for hard-hit common passengers and working people who commute everyday for a living. This decision of the Modi Government to hike fares by the backdoor, ahead of the rail budget, is in continuation of the UPA Government’s policy of delinking the Rail budget from fare fixation.

Narendra Modi’s high-powered election campaign that swept him to power, had promised that “Modi Sarkar” would mean an end to the “blows of inflation” (mehengai ki mar). Ironically, in 2012, Modi who was projecting himself as the would-be PM, had written a scathing letter to then PM Manmohan Singh, protesting the UPA-II decision to hike freight fares ahead of the rail budget! Modi had then pointed out how such a hike would escalate the costs of food grains and fertilizers, as well as the cost of coal and power generation. Modi has then asked Manmohan Singh, “Was the Central Government waiting for the results of the elections to five State Assemblies to impose an anti-people and anti-farmer policy?” Today, the people of India might well ask Modi if he was waiting to become PM, in order to drop the mask of “acche din” (good times) and impose the “hard times” of anti-people and anti-farmer policies?

The Modi Government today is disclaiming responsibility for the decision to hike rail fares, claiming it was a pending decision of the UPA Government. The ‘Modi Sarkar’ is showing that, far from delivering any relief from the UPA regime of price rise and plunder, it is merely going to continue and intensify that anti-people regime.

The All India Left Coordination (AILC) demands immediate rollback of the price hike, and calls on people to hold vigorous protests between 23-25 June against the increase in rail fares all over the country.

-This statement and call are issued by the All India Left Coordination (AILC) that is now in session in Mumbai and is being attended by leaders of four of the constituent parties

Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML) Liberation

KS Hariharan, Revolutionary Marxist party (RMP), Kerala,

Mangat Ram Pasla, Secretary, CPM Punjab,

Bhimrao Bansod, LNPI(L) Maharashtra

Politics in India

Modi Raj Begins – and Hard Times Kick In

– Liberation, July, 2014.

Modi’s poll campaign had recklessly promised everyone the moon. Price rise, unemployment, corruption, rape – ‘Modi Sarkar’ was the answer for every woe. As Modi Raj makes itself felt, however, there are misgivings all around. The initial symptoms are pretty ominous.

Even as Modi calls himself the ‘Mazdoor No.1’, the most powerful ‘maaliks’ – corporate biggies Ambani, Adani and Hinduja – were prominent at his swearing-in ceremony. And the Rajasthan Government of the BJP has already shown the way in introducing anti-worker ‘reforms’ in labour laws. Abandoning any pretence of tripartite mediation, the Rajasthan Government weighed in on behalf of the industrialists, without even any consultation with trade unions.

Modi’s ‘minimum government’ mantra seems to mean concentration of key Ministries and decision-making in the PM and a coterie of Ministers – effectively a super-PMO and super-Cabinet. The clubbing of Finance and Corporate Affairs ministries indicates that economic policy priorities of the Government will be led by corporate interests. The pruning back of the Planning Commission is also to make sure that there is no room for any parallel authority to the centralised Modi PMO.

Modi’s decision to give a Ministerial berth to Muzaffarnagar riot-accused Sanjeev Baliyan is a deliberate step, intended to display majoritarian arrogance and impunity for the riot-accused. We can recall that Modi had likewise patronised Maya Kodnani in his Gujarat Government, until a Court convicted her for her role in the 2002 communal violence.

The choice of retired Army General VK Singh for Minister of State (Independent charge) for North East Affairs is also significant. The Modi Government is indicating quite brazenly that it will view the North East from a military prism, mocking the demands for scrapping the discriminatory and draconian AFSPA.

The statements of various newly appointed Ministers are cause for concern. Najma Heptullah, Minister for Minority Affairs, has declared that Muslims are too large in number to qualify as a genuine minority, and that Parsis – a genuine ‘miniscule minority’ in her view – will instead be a priority for the Government. The fact is that Muslim and Christian minorities in India are the ones at the receiving end of the maximum violence and discrimination, while Muslims are the minority community that is economically and socially most deprived and stigmatised. To pit the Parsi minority against other minorities, and to declare that Muslim minorities are not really deserving of the Government’s protection, is another early display of brutal majoritarianism by the Modi Government.

Jitendra Singh, MoS in the Prime Minister’s Office, has declared that the Modi Government is ‘already’ taking steps to abrogate Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir. How can the PMO claim to move independently to meddle with a key Constitutional provision like Article 370, without any discussion in Parliament?

Given that Modi’s USP is his personal leadership over every aspect of his Government, these statements by Heptullah and Singh cannot be seen as mere ‘loose canon’ remarks, but as indications of the RSS footprint on the Modi Government’s policy orientation. With daily RSS-BJP parleys over Cabinet formation and policy-making, the RSS control over this Government is blatant, with no pretence of being covert.

The Modi Government, right from day one, has displayed its readiness to twist and distort the law to suit its whims. The appointment of a former TRAI Chief to the post of PS to the PM was in violation of the TRAI Act that forbade post-retirement Government jobs for TRAI Chiefs. When this came to light, the Government promptly promulgated an ordinance to do away with this safeguard on conflict of interest, and ‘legalised’ the illegal appointment post facto!

There are other worrying signals that the new Government will wield power to ensure impunity for its political partners and its own leaders. RSS leader Indresh Kumar, accused in terror blast cases, campaigned for Modi in Banaras – and has now demanded payback, saying that the Modi Government must ‘review’ terror cases in which RSS elements are implicated. Why should the politics of the accused be the basis on which terror cases will be reviewed? The induction of Baliyan likewise indicates that the Central Government is likely to back the demand for release of key Muzaffarnagar riot-accused. And the first statement by the new Minister of State (Home) has been that the Government will ‘review’ the Snoopgate probe – in which Amit Shah and Modi are both seriously implicated in the illegal surveillance of a young woman and several other citizens. More recently, a concerted media campaign is underway in favour of rape-accused ‘Godman’ Asaram – clearly, the saffron brigades expect that the Government will work to free ‘their own’ from the clutches of the law.

Emboldened by the Modi victory, lumpen saffron brigades have indulged in violence in several places: these include communal violence and minority-baiting by a BJP victory procession in Karnataka, communal violence in Ahmedabad on the eve of Modi’s swearing-in, the attack by ABVP on a seminar held at the AN Sinha Institute in Patna, and most disturbing of all, the killing of Mohsin Sadiq by a Hindu Rashtra Sena lynch mob in Pune.

Other disturbing signals include the arrest of some individuals for anti-Modi remarks on social media, the crackdown on several protests in the capital city in the name of Section 144, and the attempt at forced eviction of Bhagana protesters from Jantar Mantar. The Kerala police has booked 18 students and teachers on campuses designing an anti-Modi crossword puzzle, and other anti-Modi pieces in college magazines!

And the leak of the so-called ‘IB report’ on NGOs, is a signal that the Government aims to wage war on activists who are exposing mining plunder, environmental devastation and pro-corporate policies that endanger people’s safety and health.

Another disturbing symptom is the unwillingness of much of the mainstream media to live up to its professional responsibility. The Supreme Court verdict holding the Gujarat police and then Home Minister Modi responsible for framing innocents in the Akshardham blasts case was buried by most of the media. Likewise the media’s discussion of the Cabinet formation and new Government innings largely avoids questioning the appointment of a riot-accused as a Minister, or the issuing of an ordinance to legalise an illegal appointment to the PMO, or the propriety of the Government insulating its leaders from being investigated in the Snoopgate matter.

Addressing an elite club of industrialists in Goa, Modi said that he was about to take ‘touch measures’ that would weaken people’s ‘love’ for him. The shift from ‘good times’ rhetoric to hard talk of ‘tough times’ has been brutally swift. With the massive rail fare hike, the Modi Government has made a mockery of its own campaign slogan of ‘Bahut Hua Mahengai ki Mar, Ab ki baar Modi Sarkar’ (Enough of being hit by price rise, This time elect Modi Govt). With the massive increase in passenger fares, freight charges and monthly season tickets, working people who commute daily to work are worst hit, while the hike in freight charges will inevitably hike prices of essential commodities that are transported by rail.

The Modi Government is peddling the excuse that the hike was a UPA-II decision. But Modi did not win elections by claiming to implement UPA’s decisions! The Modi Government is rushing to get rid of UPA-era Governors and heads of Commissions, but is remaining deeply loyal to the anti-people measures of the UPA.

In 2012, Modi who was projecting himself as the would-be PM, had written a scathing letter to then PM Manmohan Singh, protesting the UPA-II decision to hike freight fares ahead of the rail budget! Modi had then pointed out how such a hike would escalate the costs of food grains and fertilizers, as well as the cost of coal and power generation. Modi has then asked Manmohan Singh, “Was the Central Government waiting for the results of the elections to five State Assemblies to impose an anti-people and anti-farmer policy?” Today, the people of India might well ask Modi if he was waiting to become PM, in order to drop the mask of “acche din” (good times) and impose the “hard times” of anti-people and anti-farmer policies?

In this feature, we take a closer look at the implications of some of the recent developments and decisions emanating from Modi rule. These include the lynching to death of Mohsin Sadiq, the proposed changes in labour laws mooted by the Rajasthan Government, and the leak of the IB report against ‘foreign funded NGOs’ that, together with elaborate reports on similar lines by the UK and US defence establishments, create a template for a war on dissent and activism.

Politics in India

Bury Rajasthan’s Anti-labour Amendments in the Sands of Thar

– Bhuvana, Liberation, July, 2014.

With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., positive audacity; 100 per cent will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime at which it will scruple….’ – Marx, quoting from T J Dunning, in Genesis of Industrial Capital

The BJP government in Rajasthan is emerging as BJP’s laboratory for its intended onslaught on labour. The Rajasthan cabinet has cleared some major anti-labour amendments in the labour laws such as Industrial Disputes Act, Contract Labour Act and Factories Act. These amendments will come into force once they are passed in the State Assembly and then get Presidential assent.

The amendments seek to further facilitate the already existing hire and fire process by raising the minimum limit of employed workers for an industrial establishment to need permission from the government for retrenchment, from 100 workers to 300. An industrial dispute has to be raised within 3 years. Only a trade union with a membership 30% of total workforce can register, contract labour legislation will apply in an establishment only where the number of such workers is 50 (earlier it was 20) and Factories Act will apply to an establishment which uses electricity and employs 20 workers and which does not use electricity and employs 40 workers (earlier it was 10 and 20 respectively).

These amendments are sought to be done in the name of ‘creating 15 lakh jobs per year’ in the state. The chief secretary of Rajasthan government says the existing labour laws are anti-employment and without these amendments it is not possible to generate employment. Let us examine this claim more closely.

As per the ASI 2011-2012, the report published in March 2014, the total number of factory workers, and thus protected by the existing labour laws, in the country is 1,34,29,956. They are distributed in 1,75,710 factories. TN has the highest number of factory workers with 19,40,819 workers in 26,654 factories, which is closely followed by Maharashtra 18,80,606 in 22,615 factories and distantly followed by Gujarat by a difference of around 5 lakhs (13,83,773 in 17,529 factories). Rajasthan has 4,74,883 workers in 7,622 factories. In none of these states, the average number of workers in a factory exceeds 100.

Of the total 1,75,710 factories 1,25,301 factories employ less than 50 workers which is 71.31%. Factories employing 200 or more workers constitute just 8.94% of the total factories. Factories employing 5,000 or more workers constitute a meagre 0.21% of the total factories. 1,60,009 factories employ less than 200 workers. The number of factories with 200 – 499 workers is 9,094. In Rajasthan, where amendments to labour laws are proposed, the number of factories employing workers less than 200 is 7,102. There are 343 factories with 200-499 workers. Even if an average of 150 from this is added to the factories employing lesser number workers it will be 7,252. The remaining number of factories in Rajasthan is then just 370. Of the 1,34,29,956 factory workers in the country 36,10,056 workers are employed through contractors. In Rajasthan these corresponding numbers are 4,74,883 and 1,33,080.

These numbers fly in the face of Rajasthan government’s claim of creating 15 lakhs jobs a year.

Creating jobs should essentially mean creating a livelihood for the whole life of the worker and his family. It is not creating a temporary, insecure green patch for a while. Employment generation has got to do with the lives of the workers and not just numbers. The number of ‘jobs being increased’ by the proposed amendments means just throwing the existing workers away and recruiting new workers in their place! Even if this is done, Rajasthan cannot see 15 lakhs jobs a year. The announcement about amendments is not accompanied by any statement regarding setting up new industries in the state, private or public, which can bring jobs as claimed. In the existing conditions, if the amendments get clearance, workers of 7,252 factories in Rajasthan can be thrown out by their employers without seeking any permission from the government.

The first round of struggles of Maruti workers was for registration of their new union. The Haryana government refused to register their union, and workers could succeed in this only after persistent struggle. Now BJP government in Rajasthan is legalizing such refusal by amending that 30% workforce should be members of the union to make it eligible to register. This essentially takes away the right of collective bargaining of the workers.

What about the rights of workers of some 370 factories in Rajasthan which are employing more than 300 workers? The latently turbulent industrial scene in TN can explain why they too are not protected by labour laws. AIADMK and DMK rulers usually claim they have made TN numero uno in terms of attracting foreign and domestic investment. ASI figures correspond positively to this claim too. But Nokia, which has enjoyed tax reliefs and other related investor benefits of an amount equal to that it invested, has closed shops in TN after the Microsoft take over. Microsoft did not take over the 9,600 permanent, contract and trainee workers employed by Nokia. They are in the age group of 25-28. The contract employing 3,000 workers was terminated in January 2014. 750 trainees had to take the compensation Rs.2.5 lakh offered. 5,000 permanent workers have opted for the VRS offered by Nokia. The amount ranges from Rs.6.2 lakhs to Rs.3 Lakhs based on the years of service.

It is being argued that this amount is hefty in the general standards of VRS offered these days. With Rs.6.2 lakh they cannot invest in another Nokia company! This will vanish in a few months’ time in feeding the families of the workers. All of them have joined the army of unemployed and have started looking for a livelihood. This virus of VRS for young workers below 30 years old is now spreading to the factories which are supplying spare parts for Nokia such as Foxconn and BYD (Build Your Dream). 600 BYD workers were arrested for blocking the road on June 21. They are not demanding employment. They are forced to demand a better compensation package at least on par with Nokia workers. BYD employs 1,000 workers and Foxconn has another 1,700 permanent workers, 3,600 contract workers, and close to 1,500 trainees. Hyundai and its subsidiaries in Sriperumbudur sent out 5,000 trainees, who were filled with dreams of going in a Hyundai car after being regularized, three years ago. They are yet to get a decent job.

Thus all these numbers, 9,600, 1,000, 5,000, 6,000 have not done anything to protect employment created, which were claimed as success stories by AIADMK and DMK. These numbers once added at the time of setting up the factories will remain ever in the statistics and get counted as ‘jobs created’. This side of industrial situation seldom attracts attention of mainstream media and the affected workers are washed away in the floods of next round of talks about investment and job creation. While Jayalalitha at the age of 66 and Modi at the age of 63 will continue to be government employees and Karunanidhi at the age of 90 will make another bid to become Chief Minister, workers at the age of less than 30 will go on VRS!

If the Rajasthan model is photocopied (as suggested by neoliberal ideologues like Manish Sabherwal) to create ‘29 centers of job creation in the country’, we will have 29 centers of slave generation in the country. We will have permanently temporary workers, permanent trainees and permanent contract workers who will be constantly under the pressures to produce more and receive depressingly less, forced to compete among themselves to grab any job for a temporary oasis of survival in a sea of despair.

To quote T. J. Dunning again, “Capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.” While the ‘Mazdoor No.1’ has a posh, sprawling, security-decked government house, office, hefty salary laced with attractive allowances, special but free air travel, different helps for different tasks including simple ones such as holding his cell phone, giving him a sip of water every now and then and so on and so forth, the nth Mazdoor of this country of 121 crores will be denied the dignity of being human, of even having the right to visit the toilet as often as s/he needs.

The TN government passed an amendment to the Industrial Establishment Standing Orders Act which has the scope of limiting the number of trainees in an industrial establishment in 2008 during the DMK regime. The amendment was unanimously passed by the TN Assembly. But it has not got the mandatory Presidential assent to take effect. Around 4 lakh powerloom workers in TN have raised the demand of announcing their workplace as factories under Section 85(1) of Factories Act. This will bring them the rights of a factory worker. Workers of Pricol and Hyundai are in the forefront in raising the demand to amend Trade Union Act for recognition of TU with majority of workers. These demands are alive as they are related to the day-to-day lives of the workers.

The BJP’s Election Manifesto had promoted the concept of ‘Industry Family’, in which “industry owners and labours bond as a family.” Inside a ‘family’, there can be no room for Unions and workers’ struggles and entitlements; and the BJP Manifesto had, likewise, promised to “bring together all stakeholders to review our Labour laws”. But the Rajasthan Government’s amendments to Labour laws have not even been through a nominal tripartite process. In the tradition of the good old feudal-patriarchal family, the ‘mai-baap sarkar’ has snatched away the rights of workers to promote the profits of industrialists.

Any amendment made to labour laws will have to widen the contours of industrial democracy in the country and improve the working and living conditions of the workers. The number of workers in this country is far larger than the number of industrialists in the country. The new government at the center and government in Rajasthan will have to bury the anti-labour amendments in the sands of Thar else the workers of this country will take the lead in doing it.

(With inputs from Comrade Desikan)

 

Politics in India

Lockout at Stump, Schuele, and Somappa: A Citizens’ Fact-finding Report

– Liberation, July, 2014.

Stumpp, Schuele and Somappa Springs Private Limited (SSSPL), a leading manufacturer of springs for cars, two-wheelers and commercial vehicles, declared a lockout at its Hosur Road factory for its contract workers on 1st March 2014, and five days later, also for its permanent workers. All these workers who were also union members were suddenly rendered jobless. Concerned about the lock-out incident, a group of citizens formed a team and decided to undertake a fact-finding investigation; the following are the details from the report.

In order to understand what exactly brought about the lockout since March 6th, one has to look at the work conditions of contract workers in the factory vis-à-vis work conditions of permanent workers. In the factory, there are only 88 permanent workers, while there are 620 contract workers (this includes various kinds of workers such as casual workers, and trainees). According to the workers, although contract workers, permanent workers, and workers designated by the company as ‘engineers’ do the same work on the same machine, the differences in their remuneration are huge, ranging from Rs.6000 for contract workers to Rs.12 – 15000 for permanent workers and Rs.20000+ for workers designated as engineers. Contract workers are also denied benefit of many of the 14 components of wages given to permanent workers.

In order to fight this blatant imbalance in the remuneration among different workers, the union felt the need to bring together the contract and permanent workers and create a common union. In September 2012, the union filed a petition before the Labour Commissioner seeking payment of the same wages as the permanent workers for contract workers as per Rule 25 of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, as both the workers were doing the same work. The union was told by the management to keep out the contract workers from the Union and withdraw its support to their demands. When the Union stood by their demands, the Management declared a lock-out for 240 contract workers on 1 March 2014, and refused to allow them into the factory to work, and refused to come forward for any talks. In solidarity with the contract workers, on 6th March 2014, the permanent workers issued a notice for a tool down strike to the Management seeking for them to come for negotiations. However, enraged by the support given by the permanent workers, the Management declared a lock-out on 6th March 2014.

In the meanwhile, a surprise inspection, by a team of officials from the Revenue Department, found that the management after declaring a lockout illegally brought in more than 100 workers from other states and northern districts of Karnataka. The team found that they were being made to work under ‘inhuman conditions’ and were treated like bonded labourers.

The Labour Department then initiated a conciliation to resolve the crisis, but it failed due to the obstinate stance of the management, and the matter was referred to the government. The Labour Secretary referred the dispute to the Labour Court and passed an order on 7th April 2014, prohibiting the lockout by the management.

On 10th April 2014, the management stated that only the permanent workers would be allowed inside the factory; when the union protested, they assured the Union and the Deputy Labour Commissioner that they would be willing to allow the contract workers to resume work within a short period. With this understanding, the permanent workers were allowed to resume their work on 11th April 2014.

However, currently, the management is still adamant about refusing to lift the lockout for the contract workers, even though the workers are willing to negotiate and ready to resume work.

Findings of the Report

a) The contract workers and the permanent workers perform the same work, but their wages and working conditions are extremely different and arbitrary, in violation of the law.

b) As per the Contract Labour Act Regulation and Abolition Act, 1970, only seasonal, non-core activities can be contracted out. However, in SSSPL, almost all the workers are engaged in core and full production.

c) The lockout was used as a tool of intimidation by the management to suppress the just struggle of the workers despite workers clearly stating that they wanted to work.

d) The lockout by the Management has resulted in the loss of livelihood of around 240 contract workers, their families having to face grave financial difficulties.

e) Despite receiving information about labour malpractices in the company, the Labour Department failed to conduct inspections and take action. The inspector from the Labour Department who visited the premises after the lockout suppressed information about the actual number of workers on the premises.

f) The demand of the management– that the existing Union should only have permanent workers as its members, and that it cannot represent the contract workers–is illegal, unconstitutional, and violates the fundamental right of the workers to collective bargaining.

Recommendations

a) The lockout must be lifted immediately for the contract workers also in order to end the hardships faced by the workers and their families.

b) All contract and other temporary workers should be regularized and receive the same benefits as the permanent workers, commensurate with qualifications and experience.

c) The management should abolish the contract labour system in perennial and core nature of work in SSSPL.

d) The Union and the workers must take all trust-building steps to wipe out the trust deficit with the management and be responsive to the efforts of the Management towards a meaningful dialogue.

e) The Labour Department must ensure that SSSPL complies with the lockout prohibition order, and all contract workers are allowed to resume work.

f) The workers must discharge their roles with efficiency to ensure the success of the company.

g) The Labour department must on a suo muto basis conduct regular inspections, and the Labour inspector who filed false reports during the lockout must be immediately suspended and disciplinary action must be initiated.

Members of the Factfinding Team : 1. Dr. Ramdas Rao (People’s Union for Civil Liberties-Karnataka), 2. Shakun M. (Vimochana), 3. Arul Selva (People’s Union for Civil Liberties-Karnataka), 4. Pushpa Achanta (Journalist), 5. Gopika Nangia (Student and Member, Concern), 6. Dr. Kishor Bhat (St. John’s Academy of Health Sciences), 7. Partha Bopaiah (Student, Bangalore University), 8. Dr. Kaveri R I (Inspire Fellow, Hyderabad Central University), 9. Rajesh Srinivas (Sangama), 10. Ashok Kaliamurthy (Activist).

Note: Since the report was published, of the 240 locked-out contract workers, 55 were taken back, but the remaining are still locked out.

Struggles in India

Jute Workers’ Plight – And Resistance

– Atanu Chakravarty, Liberation, July, 2014.

The jute industry is in the news nationally – with sensational headlines about a CEO being killed. Unfortunately, the lives of the jute workers and other workers get scant attention unless in the wake of such tragic and unfortunate incidents. Let us take a look at the facts and background of this particular incident.

On 15th June, a workers’ agitation took place at North Brook Jute Mill, which is located at Bhadreswar, Hoogly District. The management took a unilateral decision to run the mill 3 days a week. In this mill, all the labour laws are violated (which is a common phenomenon in all the jute mills of West Bengal) with impunity. The legal dues of statutory leaves were paid in 4-5 instalments, and workers were thrown out of employment at the drop of a hat. All sort of undignified, undemocratic, feudal and exploitative work conditions are prevalent in the mills. The workers were seething with anger and discontent, and the decision to reduce the working days was the last straw. The actual circumstances of the unfortunate death of the CEO are not clear. But as a consequence, work was suspended in the factory, and there have been indiscriminate arrests of local TU leaders and police terror unleashed on ordinary workers – following the same pattern as has been seen at Maruti and Pricol. TMC leaders denied their presence in the mills but the fact remains that the Board of PF Trustees is controlled by a fraction of TMC union.

Even as the Chief Minister points accusing fingers upon the ‘BJP-CPIM nexus’, the ‘owner’ of the Mill, Prakash Churaria blamed ‘some miscreants from outside’ and said workers were not all involved in this incident. Sanjay Kajaria, ex-Chairman of Indian Jute Mills Association(IJMA) squarely blamed both the state & Central Governments for the present crisis in the jute mills.

New Central Jute Mill (NCJM), is actually the only factory in the state which is run by a ‘workers’ co-operative’, located at Budge Budge, south 24 Parganas. In this sham co-operative, the workers and state government have 52 & 42 percent share respectively (some others have the rest), and the Managing Director is appointed by the Industrial Reconstruction Dept of the state government. Interestingly, the present ‘owner’ of North Brook controls the day to day affairs of the NCJM management. After colluding with Ashoke Deb, the local MLA of Trinamool Congress and some Trade Union leaders of the mill, Prakash Churaria forcefully ‘took over’ the affairs of the company. The management, in league with some TU leaders of the mill decided to sell the machines & replace it with the ‘new’ ones, under the pretext of modernisation. The AICCTU-led Bengal Chatkal Mazdoor Forum (BCMF), a fraction of CITU and one more union, opposed this move. BCMF organised a massive deputation against this decision in one of its units (Albion).

The news of this agitation spread fast and the workers of another unit (Lothian) struck work, and gheraoed the management. In a shrewd move, the management tried to divert the workers’ ire towards the TU leaders and named a few leaders alleging that they ‘compelled’ him to sell the machines. The next day the workers gave a befitting reply to those leaders, the agitation continued, and all the management staff fled. To foil the management’s attempt to declare suspension of work, the workers virtually took over the mill, peacefully stayed inside their workplace, defying all the threat of the bouncers.

After active intervention of AICCTU state leadership, the SDO of south 24 parganas convened an urgent meeting with all the stakeholders of the mills on the following day. In the meeting, the management was forced to withdraw their notice and was ordered to pay the due wages by 17th June. The management stopped purchasing raw materials and daily maintenance of the machines was ignored. The workers became apprehensive and when wages were not disbursed on the said date, by 10am, thousands of workers blocked the adjacent railway line and GT Road. Despite huge police bandobast, the blockade continued. The top brass of district police forced the management to put up a notice regarding wage payment. After it was displayed, the blockade was withdrawn at midnight. Wages were disbursed the following day.

On 19th June , nearly 1000 workers took out a militant rally from the mill premises and marched through the locality under the leadership of AICCTU & Shramik Suraksha Manch.

The workers of this mill are the lowest paid and the industry-wise wage structure has not been implemented despite repeated assurances, job security of even permanent workers is a myth in this mill after the present management took over, the statutory dues of the retired workers are not paid. The Secretary of BCMF’s union was refused work for leading the agitation a month before. Only after the Labour Directorate intervened, the management was forced to back track.

The workers of the Finishing Department of Victoria jute mill of Bhadreswar, Hooghly, ceased work when the management refused to give scheduled jobs to 10 workers of that department.

Auckland Jute and Waverly jute mills of north 24 Parganas declared suspension of work w.e.f 17th and 18thJune respectively, after the workers’ agitation. The workers of Auckland jute were demanding reimbursement of their deducted wages on the day of LS election.

Why have things come to such a pass?

This century-old labour intensive industry employs more than 2.5 lakh workers directly in the mills. These are now owned & controlled not by the industrialists, but by the raw jute suppliers, promoters and intermediaries who have found a happy hunting ground in all these jute mills. The wages of the jute industry are governed by industry-wise tripartite agreements, which the present owners want to dismantle. The jute owners are trying to introduce daily wages, sans fringe benefits. Gradually, unregistered, casual-contract-voucher workers have outnumbered the permanent work-force and the ultimate goal of these owners is to transform the composite mills into smaller units .The present owners are only interested to extract huge profits within the shortest possible period without reinvestment. The textile ministry in their report has mentioned that the annual turnover of jute industry is more than 10,000 crores, but data reveals that, between 2007-2011, the industry spent Rs 274 cr, a paltry 2.7 % of the annual turnover, on modernisation and technological upgradation. All the statutory laws (PF, ESIC, Gratuity) are violated. The Factory Act is not followed and the workers are forced to work under suffocating, highly uncivilized, medieval working condition. The staggering amount of PF default , as on 31.03.2013 is a telling example.

Let’s cite a few examples:

NORTH BROOK JUTE -125.43LACS

NEW CENTRAL JUTE MILLS-1172.85 LACS

KANORIA JUTE 1097.78 LACS

VICTORIA JUTE 1155.51 LACS

NUDDEA JUTE 3419.03 LACS

MEGHNA JUTE ( Arjun Singh, TMC MLA from Bhatpara assembly segment is a de-facto owner of this mill) 308.24 lacs (Labour in West Bengal, 2012-13).

Under the Jute Packaging Mandatory Act,1987 (JPMA),the industry enjoys a sheltered market and JCI purchases the jute bags meant for packaging food grains. Of late, the National Fibre Policy, 2011 has already recommended on phasing out protection, sheltered market and subsidy to jute sector through JPMA, 1987. Widespread use of synthetic bags have told upon this sector. The Central Govt has cut down the previous guaranteed order of jute bags, resulting in a market crunch.

The Mamata Government introduced the Industrial Policy in 2013 which is termed as Industrial and Investment Policy, 2013. The thrust of this policy was to revive Jute and Tea industry, but no meaningful steps have been taken yet to stem the rot. In the above-mentioned policy, the State Government declared its commitment towards a ‘No Bandh’ regime, and the policy statement says “there has been a significant decline in number of mandays lost due to strike in the state. Mandays lost drastically reduced in from 65,80,000 in FY 2010-11 to 5,200 to FY 2012-13’’. But, on the contrary, mandays lost due to lockout in the FY 2012-13 was 99.97% (according to Labour In West Bengal, the annual report of the labour department)! The shameless pro-employer industrial policy has helped the management to unleash an unprecedented attack upon the workers & employees of the State.

All the operating Trade Unions of the Jute mills submitted a fresh charter of demand (COD) after expiry of the previous one on January 30, 2013. Till date, the State Government has miserably failed to settle the COD, which has led to widespread discontent among the jute workers in general. Without delving deep into the problem, the State Government is describing the situation as a breakdown of law and order within the jute industry.

Politics in India

Badaun and Bhagana Rapes:

Grim Reality of Gender and Caste Atrocities

Liberation, July, 2014.

The brutal gang rape and lynching of two minor girls aged 14 and 15 in a village in the Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh is a grim reminder of the gender, caste and class based atrocities that women from Dalit, oppressed castes face on a daily basis in India.

Two months earlier, four teenage Dalit girls aged 13-18 were gang raped by higher caste landowners in Bhagana in Haryana, where the survivors are still fighting for justice to take off.

The fact that the higher caste rapists at Badaun chose to finish off their vile crimes by murdering the victims and leaving their bodies on brazen display in full public view, rather than make any attempt to hide their deeds, shows that the act was intended as a chilling spectacle of higher caste dominance. It also displays the confidence of the perpetrators, that they would not be punished for committing crimes against women from oppressed castes. Indeed, less than a percent of rape cases of Dalit women by non-Dalits end in conviction.

In the Badaun case, the police refused to investigate when the girls’ families reported them missing. Two policemen have now been arrested with charges of conspiring with the higher caste rapists. The families of the victims of Badaun have been warned with dire consequences for seeking justice. They have been threatened with retribution once media and public watch ends in the village. In Bhagana, the survivors have been forced to travel to and camp in Delhi and stage a long protest to demand the arrest of the rapists after the police refused to register cases against the powerful men – the village Sarpanch and his uncle – named by the girls in their testimonies. The police tried to forcibly evict them from Delhi’s Parliament Street, resorting to sickening misogynist abuse and violence – and were thwarted only thanks to the interventions of activists including those from JNUSU and AISA.

Badaun Gangrape: CPI(ML) and AIPWA Investigation Report

An investigative team of CPI(ML) and AIPWA led by Central Committee member Com. Krishna Adhikari arrived at village Katra Shahadatganj in Badaun on 04.06.2014 and probed the incident of gang rape and murder of two minor cousin sisters in the village. The investigative team included AIPWA national executive member Com. Vidya Rajwar, CPI(ML) State standing committee member Com. Afroz Alam, AIPWA Bareilly district convener Com. Meena Singh and Com. VH Aman.

Dominant Caste Criminals Enjoying Political Patronage

About 50 km distant from Badaun district headquarters, the village Katra Shahadatganj with a population of approximately 4000 is part of the Ganga “katri” which is notorious for being the hideout of criminals. Transport is available from the district headquarters up to Tehsil Usaihat, after which occasional autos ply within Katri region. Commuting to and from this region stops after 6 in the evening, as people tell us dacoity and waylaying are common occurrences in this region. This village is located in the Aonla Parliamentary constituency which was represented by BJP’s Maneka Gandhi in the previous Lok Sabha and by BJP’s Mahendra Kashyap in the current Lok Sabha. The village falls in Dataganj Assembly constituency and Sinaut Shakya is the local MLA from here.

The investigating team reached the grove close to Shahadatganj village where the two minor girls were hanged from a mango tree after they were gang raped. Even though some days had passed since the incident, hundreds of youth, older people, women and children from the village and neighbouring areas were gathered there. There was great anger in the people against the police-criminal nexus. Some people brought us to the village, which is mostly populated by backward castes: Yadav, Kachhi, Kumhaar, Maurya and Shakya. There are also a few houses belonging to Brahmin, Pasi and Jatav castes. Of these the Yadavs are economically the best off and they own the largest number of pucca houses in the village. The economic condition of all the other castes is approximately similar. Most people do not own more than 2 to 3 bighas of land. The houses are either kutcha or made of broken bricks without plaster.

There is no sign of any toilet anywhere in the village. The villagers told us that family members of Pappu Yadav and some other Yadav families came here a few years ago via jungles across the Ganga and settled in the village. Since then goondaism has been on the rise in the village. After the SP government came to power, people from the Yadav caste have been appointed to all posts from the chowki in charge to sipahi. After that the Pappu Yadav gang received direct police protection and the police chowki became the adda of the Pappu Yadav gang. The sipahis of the chowki Sarvesh Yadav and Chhatrapal Yadav were to be seen all the time with Pappu Yadav. The villagers told us that if anyone from the village went with a complaint to the police station, they were misbehaved with and driven away by the police.

The Incident of 27th May 2014

The investigating team met the victims’ family. Jeevan Lal and Sohan Lal, brothers who are each a father of one of the victims, methodically related details of the incident to the investigating team. They own a total of 3 bighas land and belong to the backward Maurya caste. One girl was aged 14 and studied in Class 8 and her cousin was aged 12 and studied in Class 6. At 8 pm on the night of 27 May the two girls were walking to the grove of trees a short distance from the house to relieve themselves. It is surmised that Pappu Yadav and 5 other goondas from his gang waylaid them and started dragging them away, but the girls started screaming and shouting. Hearing the screams of the children Babu Ram, who was looking after the fields, ran to their help and tried to free them, upon which the goondas beat him up and drove him away by firing at him.

Babu Ram went running to the village and informed the girls’ family and other villagers about the incident. The family and other villagers gathered together and went in the direction in which the goondas had taken away the girls. When after 2 hours of searching they could find no trace of either the goondas or the girls, they went to the chowki in the village at about 10 pm in the night. When they informed the chowki in charge Ram Vilas Yadav about the whole incident and asked them to find the missing girls, Chhatrapal Yadav started abusing them and slapped Jeevan Lal, saying that the girls would be found in 2 hours. The villagers got angry at this and demanded that the police should immediately find the goondas and the girls. Seeing the rising pressure from the villagers, the chowki in charge first asked constables Sarvesh Yadav and Chhatrapal Yadav to search for the girls. When they refused hesitated, he took them with him and went straight to the house of Pappu Yadav. The villagers also followed the police personnel. Pappu Yadav was found present in his home and the chowki in charge brought him to the chowki. The villagers present pointed to him as the main culprit and said that the 2 girls had been captured by his gang. Pappu Yadav eventually admitted that the girls were with him. Then suddenly the constable Sarvesh Yadav took Pappu Yadav into another room where they spoke together. Coming out of the room, Sarvesh Yadav told the villagers that the girls would be found in 2 hours and asked them all to go home. But even after 2 hours when the girls were not found, the villagers understood that the girls had been abducted in connivance with the chowki personnel. They then started making arrangements for transport to take them to the thana at Usaihat. At about 4 am in the morning when they were about to leave the village for the thana, the constable Sarvesh Yadav came and informed them that the girls had been found hanging on the mango tree. Then all the people went to the grove and found that the bodies of the 2 girls were hanging from the mango tree. The post mortem reports on the girls’ bodies have confirmed that they were raped.

Conclusions:

1. The heinous crime of gang rape and murder of both the minor girls is a result of the nexus and connivance between the criminal gang of Pappu Yadav and the police chowki. The constables stationed at the chowki, Chhatrapal Yadav and Sarvesh Yadav are part of the Pappu Yadav gang.

2. After the incident, instead of taking immediate action to find the whereabouts of the girls and arrest the culprits, the chowki in charge Ram Vilas Yadav continuously misled the family members and the villagers and shielded and protected Pappu Yadav and the guilty police personnel. He refused even to register the FIR of the victims’ family members.

3. Even after several days of the day of the incident, the SP government made all attempts to shield and protect the culprits. After the incident DGP Shri AL Bannerjee visited Katra Shahadatganj and tried to give the police personnel a clean chit and cover up the incident by saying that it was an ‘honour killing’ or the result of some property dispute.

4. The morale of this unholy police-criminal nexus is being sustained and boosted by the ruling Parties in power at the Centre and the State.

5. From the beginning not only is the SP government in the State trying to shield and protect the culprits and police personnel involved in this crime, but the BJP government at the Centre is also sitting silent. The matter cannot be reduced to one of availability of toilets! Women and indeed everyone should indeed have access to hygienic toilets, but equally, women should be able to go out of their homes for any purpose, without fear.

6. It is evident that the BP, after 2 successive wins in the Aonla Parliamentary constituency, does not under any circumstances wish to upset the apple cart of criminals’ dominance or interfere with the social equation which is now slanted in its favour, so that in the coming Assembly elections it can once again take advantage of the criminals’ dominance and the present social equation to ensure a BJP victory, as it did in the Lok Sabha elections.

Recommendations:

1. CBI enquiry should be immediately ordered into the gang rape and murder of the 2 minor girls at Katra Shahadatganj. (Subsequent to this report, a CBI enquiry has been ordered. – Ed/-)

2. Cases should be registered of conspiracy to gang rape, and also Section 166A IPC (dereliction of duty) against chowki in charge Ram Vilas Yadav and other police personnel of the chowki who shielded and protected the culprits ad tried to mislead and misinform the villagers and they should be sent to jail.

3. DGP AL Banerjee, who tried to cover up and trivialize this incident of gang rape and murder by calling it an honour killing or the result of property dispute, should be immediately removed from his post.

4. The victims’ family members should be immediately given proper security.

5. Rising violence against women in the State should be curbed and immediate and stringent action should be taken against the culprits.

Protests on Badaun and Bhagana Rapes

In Delhi, the JNUSU was among the first to call a protest at the UP Bhawan against the Badaun rape. A protest by various groups in London also took place.

More than 400 people protested outside the Indian High Commission in London between 4:30 and 6:30pm on 4 June. There were a wide variety of people, Dalit organisations from as far away as Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Coventry, a large number of women’s groups and progressive individuals including writers, poets and filmmakers. This was a demonstration of solidarity with the girls who are victims and survivors of Badaun and Bhagana and their families on the one hand and an outpouring of anger about what has happened on the other. It highlighted police rapes, and the collusion of the local administration and most shockingly the Indian government’s role in protecting the upper caste and economically powerful rapists. There were slogans such as ‘UP Government Shame Shame! Modi GovernmentShame Shame!’ and placards which read ‘MODI PARLIAMENT DAY ONE: BHAGANA RAPE SURVIVORS PROTEST EVICTED IN DELHI! IS THIS DEMOCRACY?’ and ‘WE REMEMBER BATHANI TOLA, BATHE, KHARLANJI, BHAGANA, BADAUN.. .HOW MANY MORE?

Sarbjit Johal on behalf of the Freedom Without Fear Platform the organisation which had called the event said: ‘While we are aware that sexual violence against Dalit and oppressed caste women and girls is widespread all over India and has been going on for a long time, today’s eviction and sexual assault on the Bhagana survivors and their families confrims our fears that things are getting worse not better. We are also appalled that Sanjeev Baliyan who is a main accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots and mass rapes has been rewarded with a minister’s post in Narendra Modi’s government. What kind of message does this give?’

International

FIFA in Brazil: Ugly Exploitation Undermines Beautiful Football

– Somak Roychoudhury, Liberation, July, 2014.

The history of football is a sad voyage from beauty to duty”

Uruguayan writer and football chronicler Eduardo Galeano’s famous lines were reflected in the turbulent protests and popular discontent that hit the streets of various cities of Brazil prior to FIFA World Cup. While Brazil was announced as the host of this edition uncontested, seven years back in 2007, people around the planet whose passion revolves round the beautiful game were elated, as the land of “beautiful football” which produced the greatest artists of the game was given a nod for the second time after 64 long years. Brazil was not only announced as the host, but also huge promises were made that this World Cup would revive her emerging economy, and a respectable living for the toiling masses, the section that forms the base and the pillars of football-culture of the Latin American nation. A huge investment was promised that would create millions of job-opportunities to boost the GDP of the nation. Seven years down the line, people of the cities from Sao-Paulo to Porto Alegre, Rio to Manaus re-decorated for hosting the matches were on the streets, after bearing the brunt of severe taxation, unfulfilled promises, ruthless evictions, child-sexual abuse ‘tourism’, deterioration of emergency services, and under-payment for work in construction projects.

Football is called “Joga-Bonito”, which means ‘beautiful game’ in Portuguese, and Brazilians believe they alone can produce this beauty. The pride and honour of producing it to entertain the world and to achieve the glory of five-time World Champions is deep-rooted in the hearts of generations of Brazilians. The spontaneous poetry of Brazilian football – distinct from the European game – gave birth to icons like Pele-Garrincha-Tostao-Didi-Vava-Rivellino-Socrates-Zico-Romerio-Ronaldo-Ronaldinho… the list could go on.

But this time, despite being the host of the greatest spectator show of football, the song, “Desculpe, Neymar” (Sorry, Neymar), written by famous Brazilian musician, Edu Krieger, has been a hit amongst the street-protestors and on the internet. The song addresses and apologizes to the latest sensation of Brazilian football, Neymar, and his fellow team-mates for not being able to cheer the event and the national side characteristically, citing the unresolved pain and misery of the people and the additional burden imposed on them by the mega-event. The spirit of revolt has stimulated such culture and creativity, in sharp contrast to the official title song produced by FIFA’S organizing committee. The lyrics of ‘Desculpe, Neymar’ goes: “We can’t be real champions. We have beautiful and monumental stadiums, as our schools and hospitals are on the verge of collapse…” Surely Neymar and company, who donned the traditional golden and green shirts in the opener at the historic Maracanã at Rio, felt the pain of the protest banners as much as the warmth of the supporters. Brazil has the legacy of stars like late ex-skipper Socrates, who while playing at Corinthians in 1980, stood up firmly in favor of democracy to protest against the military Junta and its totalitarian control over the clubs and the game.

Open Admission of Loot

Ricardo Teixeira, the then president of the Brazilian Football-Federation, had in 2007 made bold promises of a slew of developmental projects the World Cup was supposed to bring in, that would not only benefit the sporting world, but transform the entire socio-economic condition of the nation. Pay-hikes, well-conceived investments, proper-employment projects, and a drastic improvement of social-services were promised. 2 years ago, Teixeira and his former father-in-law ex-FIFA President Joao Havelange were accused in a Swiss prosecutor’s report of receiving bribes of more than $41 million for distribution of marketing rights of the FIFA World Cup!

Economic analysts point out that the whopping $11 billion budget, if spent on education, could have brought 37 lakh children(aged between 4-17 years), who are drop-outs currently, back to school with proper infrastructure. But Joana Havelange, daughter of Teixeira and granddaughter of Havelange, and President of the World Cup Organizing Committee, added fuel to fire by telling protestors that there’s no point calling for any of the $11 billion budget to be redirected to health and education, since “What’s been spent, what’s been robbed, has already happened…If it was necessary to protest then people should have done so beforehand.”

Corporate Exploitation

Most of the protests and demonstrations are directed against the FIFA and the present Dilma Rousseff government of Brazil. But, behind the curtain, there is a nexus of global corporate giants. In addition to $22.46 billion spent by Brazil, a total of $142.39 billion was expected to flow in the country from 2010 to 2014, generating 3.43 million jobs per year and $63.48 billion income for the population, with a significant impact on the domestic consumer market. This production was expected to generate $18.3 taxes for local, state and federal governments. The sectors expected to have benefited from the World Cup were construction, food and beverages, information services, sanitation, and transport. But a few days ahead of the tournament, the country reflected a different reality. A huge strike among the metro railway workers at Sao-Paulo for a pay-hike continued for five days reveals under-employment in the World Cup projects. Taxation on common people has sky-rocketed, but essential services deteriorated drastically. The burden of expenditure is imposed on the provincial governments and the central banks like Caxia-Economica-Federal, BNDES, and BNB. Hi-tech stadiums have needlessly come up at Brasilia, Manaus, and Natal, where no premier division league matches take place, while schools and hospitals lack funds! Gabriel, a young and enthusiastic security officer of a shopping complex at Sao-Paulo, and a football lover said “I don’t have money to buy tickets of any game. The World Cup has only helped some people, construction-companies and corrupt legislators to fill their inside pockets”. Angry and agitated, Gabriel belongs to that section of the masses who have been forced to forfeit their love for the beautiful game and are up against this massive corruption.

For the last few decades the global market of sports have been dominated by Nike, Reebok, Puma and Adidas. These four corporate giants combined, are title sponsors of almost 30 out of the 32 teams participating in the tournament consistently for the last few editions from France’98 and their contradictions are governing the sporting event. Among these Adidas is the official sponsor of the Tournament, and milking it with aggressive sales-targets of $1.2 billion this year. Globally football sales have astronomically risen from $40 million globally during 94’ USA World Cup to $1.5 billion in the current season. Most of the production units of these corporate houses are located in India, Pakistan, Thailand and China. Not a single penny is being spent on the football infrastructure of these nations, and except China in the 2002 World-Cup, none of the other three Asian nations have even tasted the blood of the event. The Indian government withdrew from the last edition of Brazil World Cup way back in 1950 citing its lack of foreign reserves.

The majority of the people employed in the production-units are manual labourers, mostly women and children in meagre daily wages, except in China, where production is done with machines and workers get a slightly higher rate.

The Dilma Rouseff government will surely feel the heat, as its prospects of getting re-elected in the coming months, are dim. The current ruling PSOL was born out of Lula’s Worker’s Party in 2004, after the betrayals of the latter alienated trade unions and left supporters. 10 years down the line, Dilma, an ex-anarchist, is facing the same ire, after embracing the same neo-liberal policies. The people of Brazil deserve admiration, for spiritedly taking on the plunder and exploitation and forcing the world to acknowledge it.

International

Socialist Alliance Conference in Australia
– Liberation, July, 2014.

CPI(ML) Politburo member and AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan was the keynote speaker at the People’s Power in the “Asian Century” seminar in Sydney, Australia on June 7. The seminar was held as part of the Socialist Alliance’s 10th national conference on June 7-9.

Around 250 people from various states in Australia attended the conference, where Kavita Krishnan spoke about the experience of struggles against capitalism, misogyny and sexual violence in India. She argued strongly against the tendency in the Western media to talk about gender violence as though it was a result of the ‘backward’ culture in places like India, Pakistan or Afghanistan. Instead, she argued that the gender violence in these societies should be discussed in conjunction with the terrible crimes against women in advanced capitalist societies – such as, for instance, the recent massacre of women by a man in California. She spoke of how capitalism and neoliberal economic policies are complicit in violence against women in India as well. Drawing from the Indian experience, she argued strongly for revolutionary socialists and communists to intervene positively in movements against rape and rape culture. India witnessed such a movement post December 16th, while in Australia last year, there was a similar movement following the rape and murder of a woman, Jill Maegher, in Melbourne.

Other speakers at the Conference included S Arultchelvan “Arul” from the Socialist Party of Malaysia, Sonny Melencio from the Party of the Labouring Masses in the Philippines and Thai pro-democracy activist and commentator Giles Ji Ungpakorn, via video link, and Shamikh Badra, an activist from Palestine. These speakers explored politics in Asia today and the impact of the developing people’s power movements, including on countries like Australia. Another speaker was research scholar Kevin Lin who gave a presentation on labour struggles and workers’ strikes in China. Farooq Tariq, leader of the Awami Workers Party in Pakistan, was unable to attend due to his Australian visa being granted too late.

The conference was opened by a greeting by Murri leader Sam Watson, the Socialist Alliance spokesperson for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, who, on behalf of the Conference, acknowledged that the land “always was, always will be Aboriginal land,” stolen from the Aboriginal people.

The Conference took place at a time when massive protest marches are taking place all over Australia against the anti-people budget introduced by the right-wing Liberal Government there. There have also been powerful protests against the Australian Government’s racist policy of detaining and deporting refugees. Recent protests have been spurred by the killing of a Kurdish refugee from Iran, Reza Barati, by a racist mob at an Australian detention centre, and by two recent instances of self-immolation by desperate Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, who were refused asylum.

Following the People’s Power in the “Asian Century” seminar were two days of debate and decision-making for Socialist Alliance members. A panel called “Our lives are worth more than their profits”, featuring Sam Watson, Socialist Alliance Councillors Sam Wainwright and Sue Bolton, as well as TAFE activist Sarah Hathway.
The Sydney premiere screening of the new documentary, Radical Wollongong was held on the Sunday, followed by a Latin American solidarity evening on the Sunday night, co-hosted by the Sydney Latin American Social Forum.

Venezuelan Ambassador Nelson Davila was a special guest at the conference. He delivered a powerful address on the need for solidarity with the Venezuelan people following the recent adoption of sanctions against Venezuela by the US government.

Over the weekend, Socialist Alliance delegates voted on several resolutions dealing with international and Australian politics, adopted a new policy on electoral reform, and on the next steps in strengthening the work of the Alliance.
The resolutions on international politics condemned the intervention of the EU and US in Ukraine, condemned the recent coup in Thailand and condemned the Australian government’s recently changed position on the Palestinian occupied territories, such as East Jerusalem.

The conference elected a new National Executive and Susan Price and Alex Bainbridge were elected as Socialist Alliance national co-convenors. Members of the newly formed Socialist Alliance youth wing, Resistance Young Socialist Alliance, met during the conference and elected a national leadership, with Angus McAllen and Sarah Hathway elected as Resistance national co-convenors. 
(with inputs from a report by Susan Price in the Green Left Weekly, June 14, 2014)

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