The 14th national conference of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) got under way here on Thursday with a note of unity in the trade union fraternity, with trade union leaders representing diverse political and ideological shades affirming their commitment to continuing the joint struggle regardless of which party or combination of parties was in power.

The refrain of the trade union leaders who addressed the inaugural session of the five-day conference, which began at the ‘Comrade M.K. Pandhe Nagar’ at the Police Maidan, was the need of continued unity among fraternal trade union organisations at a time when the democratic rights of the working class were under attack.

The inaugural address by CITU president A.K. Padmanabhan set the tone of unity for the entire session by stating that the two-day general strike in February that created a new history in the trade union movement in the country was possible because of the unity of all major trade unions.

Stressing the need of the unity to defend the workers’ right to collective bargaining now being taken away, the CITU president said the trade unions had decided to write to the Prime Minister to urge upon him to respond to the demands of the working class and take the initiative to have a serious discussion with the trade unions on issues such as minimum wage, ‘contractisation’ of labour and job security, among others.

“The fruit of growth has not reached the ordinary worker as it has been taken away by the upper crust,” he said adding that the united struggle had made multinational corporations to come to terms with the demands of the working class.

The attack against the working class ideology had to be countered by joint action, he added.

Echoing the CITU president’s emphasis on the unity in the trade union movement, AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said the unions had now come closer.

Terming the 48-hour general strike as the greatest political action in the country, he said the government should be hit back with the united strength of the unions.

Insensitivity of the government to the plight of the workers and the marginalised was the shameful thing about Indian democracy, he said .adding that if the Central government did not respond to the demands, the unions would go for a second phase of action.

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