1. All over the world, predatory capital on the neoliberal prowl has intensified its multipronged offensive on labour in the name of overcoming the global economic crisis. In our country this has assumed various shapes old and new: job cuts, retrenchment, forced retirement in the name of voluntary retirement schemes, wage freeze, increased workload and working hours, downsizing, outsourcing and casualization of jobs of permanent or perennial nature, union- busting and denial of industrial democracy – the list is endless.

2. The Indian state, the judiciary not excluded, facilitates the enhanced exploitation and oppression with a whole range of anti-labour laws and regulations, anti-worker judicial verdicts, creation of no-union zones in new industrial centres, high-handed repression on workers’ struggles in government as well as private enterprises and so on – all in the name of economic reform and growth. The corporate media as a rule sings the tune of big business and religiously portrays strikes and trade unions as the biggest obstacles to national prosperity.

3. Workers and employees in India, their backs to the wall,
are resisting such concerted attacks at the factory/workplace, industry and national levels with determination. Recent years have witnessed a new militant awakening among unorganized workers and contract labourers, many of whom are women, who constitute the overwhelming majority of our labour force. The same period has also been marked by exemplary united struggles of permanent and contract workers in the auto industry, the showpiece of the emerging “India Inc” as well as highly successful industrial actions and political campaigns jointly organized by central trade unions. The Indian contingent of the world proletariat is taking steady strides along the path already being charted by workers in Greece, Spain, South Africa and other countries – a path full of tough challenges as well as big opportunities provided by the spreading crisis of neoliberalism.

4. The recent two-day all-India general strike on 20-21 February marked a new high in working class action against the neoliberal offensive of the Indian ruling classes. More than 10 crore workers participated in the strike cutting across states and sectors. The strike evoked a good response in almost all major industrial centres and the financial sector. Life in Delhi and Mumbai remained rather normal with the transport sector not joining the strike even as public transport remained off the roads across North India. Our Party and central trade union played an exemplary role in mobilising the working people in support of the strike – in Tamil Nadu, for example, a state-wide yatra was organised in the run-up to the strike to popularise the strike call and the agenda and demand a special session of the State Assembly to address and resolve workers’ issues. In many areas, notably in Bihar and West Bengal and in parts of Jharkhand, the strike became total with broad-based popular support, but in a bid to crush the growing spirit of working class unrest and popular resistance in the National Capital Region, the state unleashed repression on general workers and TU activists in Noida, raiding TU and Party offices and arresting Comrade Shyam Kishore, member of the Party’s Delhi State Committee, a CITU leader, and a group of workers and common people on framed-up charges. A transport worker leader belonging to the AITUC was also killed in the course of the strike in Ambala depot of Haryana. Weeks after the strike, the Noida comrades are still in jail and have been denied bail.

India’s Growth Story: Gainers and Losers

5. The brief periods of high manufacturing growth in the mid-1990s and the 2000s that is now petering out were propelled by increased productivity of labour. But labour was denied the fruits of growth. Wages as a share of net value added in the manufacturing sector were close to 30% in the 1980s, declined to around 20% in the 1990s and dropped to an all time low of 10% by 2008-2009. Not surprisingly, we find that the share of profits in net value added, which was at around 20% throughout the 1980s, climbed above 30% in the 1990s, and rose to an incredible 60% by 2008. The same story is repeated in the service sector. Here the share of wages declined from more than 70% in the