The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met on December 17 and 18, 2004 at New Delhi. It has issued the following statement:
Protect Right To Strike
The Polit Bureau expressed serious concern about various pronouncements by the higher judiciary seeking to suppress the right to strike and other forms of protest. Last year a bench of the Supreme Court had decreed that government employees have no constitutional, legal or moral right to strike. Subsequently, various high courts have given judgements on the matter, the latest being the Kolkata High Court. The import of these verdicts is to deny the right to strike which is the basic right of the working class and the citizens of the country.
Neither the working class nor the trade union movement can agree to the abrogation of this right. The Polit Bureau decided to approach the UPA government to see that suitable legislative provision is made to protect the right to strike.
Employment Guarantee Act
The bill to enact a rural employment guarantee Act is to be introduced in parliament. This is to fulfill a commitment made in the Common Minimum Programme. However, it is unfortunate that the present bill represents a dilution of the provision made in the CMP. Instead of providing for a hundred days minimum work for one adult in every rural household, the bill seeks to target “poor households” whereby only those who are below poverty line (BPL) beneficiaries can avail of the scheme. There is no provision for payment of the statutory minimum wage decreed by the state governments. Nor is there any time period prescribed for extending the coverage of the act to the whole country. There is no provision for ensuring employment of women in the scheme either through the nature of the work specified or by providing that 40 per cent of the jobs should go to women.
There is also no provision for the Centre providing hundred per cent of the funding and the states have to bear a share of the burden.
All these defects need to be removed if the National Employment Guarantee Act has to serve the needs of minimum employment for a vast section of the people in the rural areas.
The Polit Bureau expects the UPA government to rectify these defects in the process of the parliamentary discussions so that a more comprehensive and effective legislation can be adopted.
EPF Rate of Interest
The Polit Bureau reiterated the demand of the Left parties that the cut in the Employees Provident Fund rate of interest to 8.5 per cent be rescinded and the earlier rate of 9.5 per cent restored. When the rate of inflation is above 7 percent, there is no justification whatsoever in eroding the savings of the workers and employees.
Rajasthan Kisan Struggle
The Polit Bureau congratulated the farmers and the people of North Western Rajasthan which conducted a protracted struggle for adequate supply of water for their farming. Six persons died during the course of the struggle. Many hundreds were injures in lathi charges and use of tear gas shells. The Rajasthan state government finally conceded the demands made by the movement and has also released the leaders who were arrested under the National Security Act. The movement has succeeded due to the determination of the peasantry and the united platform which carried on the struggle.
The Polit Bureau discussed the tactics to be adopted in the Bihar, Jharkhand and Haryana Assembly elections. It was decided that the Party will discuss with other Left and secular parties to arrive at an electoral understanding to fight the elections.
Draft Political Resolution
The Polit Bureau discussed the draft political resolution for the 18th Congress of the Party to be held in April 2005. The Polit Bureau has prepared a draft to be presented to the Central Committee in January for finalisation. After the Central Committee finalises the draft political resolution, it will be released for discussion in the Party.