Calcutta, Nov. 20: Jyoti Basu today called for strategic changes in the CPM’s trade union movement in the wake of a changing industrial scenario.
“Workers will definitely organise movements to realise legitimate demands but at the same time, they should ensure uninterrupted production and make every effort to save industry. Workers will not survive if industry perishes. There must be some kind of co-ordination between the workers’ fight to retain political and economic rights and their keenness to keep their factories open,’’ Basu said while inaugurating the eighth conference of Citu, the CPM’s labour arm, at Mahajati Sadan.
The veteran Marxist and CPM politburo member said it is not possible to save any industry without taking into consideration aspects like its financial position and competition in the international market and modernisation and introduction of new technology . “This is one of the rules of market economy in which there is no scope for any kind of reservation. The working class will have to finalise its strategy for survival keeping in mind all these factors,” he said.
Basu, also a vice-president of the trade union, defended the workers’ “right to observe strikes and hold rallies” saying there should be an organised resistance to every attempt to snatch these rights.
“However, we have to make sure that your trade union action does not make people suffer. We have no intention to cause inconvenience to the people while organising rallies and other forms of agitations. But there is no question of the workers forgoing their right to observe strikes and hold rallies,’’ he said.
The former chief minister denied that workers in Bengal resort to strikes at the drop of a hat, indulge in violence and stay away from work, prompting entrepreneurs to migrate to other states with apparently lesser labour unrest. “It is a propaganda of the Opposition and a section of the media. Some undesirable activities have been reported from one or two factories but these were isolated cases. How can one explain so much investment in the state if the overall situation is not good'” Basu asked.
A draft report, placed at the conference by Citu state secretary Chittabrata Majumdar, blamed “inefficient management and lack of work culture among employees” for the sick and closed state-run public sector undertakings.
“Most of the PSUs are sick and have been incurring huge losses as the government did not properly assess their viability before taking them over and did not have enough funds for their modernisation. Besides, the top management officers in these PSUs have been found to be inefficient, lacking initiative and integrity. This apart, the workers’ general tendency to neglect work and make excessive financial demands made the PSUs sick,’’ the report says.
Admitting the Citu’s failure to educate the “working class”, the report says there has been hardly any improvement in work culture despite a rise in membership. “The task of educating union leaders and enriching their political consciousness has been neglected. This has created a distance between the leaders and the workers. Some leaders have been found to be opportunists and involved in corrupt practices.”