Stop price rise – strengthen the PDS Item No. 1 – Explanatory Notes – Charter of Demands – All India Strike 2nd Sep, 2015

Stop price rise; strengthen the PDS Item No. 1 – Explanatory Notes – Charter of Demands – All India Strike 2nd Sep,

Item No.1. Stop price rise; strengthen the PDS and ban speculative trade in
commodity market.

The Economic crisis in nineties caused by the indiscriminate borrowings indulged
in by the then Government of India from the world bodies like IMF, World Bank
etc. and the adherence to their conditionalities created a conducive climate for
the proponents and champions of market economy to advocate the globalization
path of economic development. The State began to withdraw itself from various
sectors and the least governance was considered as the virtue and synonym for
good Government. In other words, the Government withdrew itself from the concept
of welfare State and opted for faster economic development through
privatization, liberalization and globalization. The agony and misery of common
multitude, the consequence of adoption of market economy was considered by the
rulers as the price to be paid in the process. The various subsidies provided to
ensure that the essential commodities needed for human existence is made
available to the common people was treated as profligacy and concerted efforts
were made to cut them drastically through budgetary proposals. The media, both
print and electronic, which had gone into the hands of large corporate houses,
propagated the liberalization and globalization policies to the hilt and inside
the Parliament various legislations were moved and enacted by the ruling class
ably supported by almost all opposition parties, barring of course the Left
The Working class organizations except those affiliated to INTUC and BMS
realizing the dangerous impact of the neo-liberal economic policies organized
resistance through strike and other demonstrative actions. Between the period
1991 and 2010, the sponsoring committee of Central Trade Unions along with the
different Federations of employees organized strike actions on 13 occasions
which indeed made deleterious impact over the pace with which the Indian ruling
class wanted to usher in these policies. Not only the common people, but also
the intellectual and the middle classes had to admit, albeit reluctantly, that
but for the consistent opposition of the left parties and the working class
organizations, the global financial crisis that engulfed the American and
European Continents and many other parts of the world would have destroyed the
Indian economy. To tide over the disastrous ripples it created in the Indian
Economy, the Government had to make outflow of crores of rupees in the name of
bail-out packages to Indian Industry and corporate entities. Once the crisis
blew over, the Government went back to its good old ways of implementing these
discredited policies with a vengeance.
The unbridled accumulation of wealth in a few hands, the cardinal consequence of
the capitalist economic development, bring about a pyramidal society giving no
room for the poor people at the base even to eke out an existence. This aspect
became more and more pronounced over the years and reached a stage that it
became impossible for anybody who is supposed to be representing the workers to
continue to ignore this phenomenon. Those organizations which had taken a
contradictory stand against the sponsoring committee had to come together to
voice their concern against the marginalization of the working people. Both BMS
and INTUC had to join in the concerted efforts of the workers to oppose, if not
the policies, at least the manifestation of it, i.e. the escalation of prices of
essential commodities. The inflationary impact in the economy created by the
pursuance of the neo-liberal economic policies was conceived to effect transfer
of wealth from the poor to the rich. It reached an intolerable stage in as much
as its incremental rate of inflation from quarter to quarter was in two digits
.Never in the past has it assumed the dimension of today.
In the immediate years after independence, in order to ensure food security to
the people of India, the Indian ruling class under pressure created the
universal public distribution system for food articles. It became an effective
instrument in the years to contain the artificial rise of market prices of
essential commodities especially in the face of hoarding and black market
operations of unscrupulous traders. The sweep and range of commodities made
available through these outlets, known as ration shops in the common parlance
even though beset with innumerable problems connected with leakages and
corruption, was the most effective welfare measure of the Government, which in
no small degree arrested and stopped the starvation death in rural India. The
advent of neo liberal economic policies ensured that this singular welfare
measure of universal public distribution system was discarded.
Both inside and outside Parliament our present day rulers advocated that the
higher prices are inevitable given the shortfall in domestic production and due
to prevailing higher prices of rice, wheat, pulses and edible oil in
international market. Far from truth the statement of under production was, as
the production of food-grains in 2006-07 in our country was 9.3 cr. tonnes, 9.6
crores in 2007-08 and 9.9 crores in 2008-09 despite the fact that our investment
in agricultural sector in the last ten years was less than 2% of the GDP and
constantly year after year the Government had been withdrawing subsidy to the
farm sector.
To ensure that the universal PDS is in operation, and the peasants do get
remunerative price for their produce, the Government had created a buffer stock
of food-grains through the FCI. The statutory norm fixed was to have 200 lakh
tonnes of wheat and rice as buffer stock. Presently the FCI godowns carry more
than 500 lakhs of food-grains. Of it 3 million tonnes are reported to be rotting
for want of space in the warehouses and rats are the beneficiaries. This made
the honourable Supreme Court to ask the Government as to why that which cannot
be stored properly be distributed to the poor.
While dismantling of the PDS destroyed the food security of the poor, the
permission granted to speculators to indulge in forward trading in food articles
with intent to artificially boost the statistical growth of economy resulted in
the soaring of prices in the market. The fervent appeals made by the informed
public, intelligentsia in the society and the Parliamentarians belonging to the
left parties to ban forward trading fell in the deaf ears for that would have
entailed in the slowing down the reforms, which course the BJP Government had
vowed to intensify. Despite the reportedly enviable growth rate of 8 to 9% over
the past few years and the consequent rise in the per capita income of our
country, vast majority of our countrymen have become poorer while the number of
dollar billionaires were doubled. According to Shri Arjun Sengupta report, 77%
of Indian population have a daily income of less than Rs. 20. And the Tax
concessions, deduction and exemptions given away to those who can afford to pay
the levies and taxes were of the order of Rs. 6 lakh crores. The Budget
presented by the BJP Government in Feb. last reduced the corporate tax by 5% and
widened the scope and ambit of the Service Tax. In other words, unashamedly,
they taxed the poor and gave concessions to the rich and corporate entities.
On top of all these and despite the huge reduction in the international crude
oil price, we found the constant and continuous rise of retail prices of the
petroleum products for which strange phenomenon, no explanation was offered by
the Modi Government. In the context of Petroleum companies making huge profit (IOL
making a profit of 10998 Crores in 2009-10 and the respective figure for HPCL
and BPL being Rs. 544 Cr and 874 crores) and the Govt. of India making a neat
additional tax over and above the Rs. . 110000 Crores every time it increases
the oil prices.
This being the general scenario which must be of concern to us rather of grave
concern, it would be pertinent to note the erosion in our real wages brought
about by the unprecedented escalation of retail prices of commodities of daily
consumption. The 6th CPC determined the minimum wage on the basis of the retail
prices of various commodities as existed on 1.01.2006. (Please see page 53 of
the 6th CPC report). We are, unlike those in the unorganized sectors, in the
company of that segment of the working class, who get their wages cost indexed,
howsoever, defective, trivial and insufficient it is. In January, 2001 we were
compensated for the rise in prices to the extent of 51% of our Pay as DA whereas
the rise in the prices of the commodities that go into the reckoning for the
computation of minimum wage was of the order of 160%.
(viii) No labour reforms which are inimical to the interest of the workers.
(i) Effect wage revision of the Central Government Employees from 01.01.2014 accepting memorandum of the staff side JCM; ensure 5-year wage revision in future; grant interim relief and merger of 100% of DA; Include Gramin Dak Sevaks within the ambit of 7th CPC. Settle all anomalies of 6th CPC.
6. Stoppage of disinvestment in Central/State PSUs. . Stoppage of contractorisation in permanent perennial work and payment of same wage and benefits for contract workers as regular workers for same and similar work.
(v) No outsourcing, contractorisation, privatization of governmental functions; withdraw the proposed move to close down the printing presses, the publications, form stores and stationery departments and medical stores Depots; regularize the existing daily-rated/casual and contract workers and absorption of trained apprentices.
(vi) Revive the JCM functioning at all level as an effective negotiating forum for settlement of the demands of the Central Government Employees.

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