In conversation with

Ms Dola Sen
President, Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress

Representatives of the AITMC Web Team had the chance to meet the President of the Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress, Ms Dola Sen. In spite of her busy schedule Ms Sen gave time to the representatives and detailed upon the initiatives taken by INTTUC in West Bengal since 1998.

Here are the excerpts of the interview –

Please tell us about some major achievements of the INTTUC since its inception.

The first thing INTTUC did was to boost up the working class and make them have faith on Trade Union. The CPM/Congress Unions had worked in such a manner that there was a huge distance made between the Union and the common workers. . The Chairperson of AITMC instructed to take a preventive measure against all the wrongs and make a proper democratically viable system. That is what INTTUC did.

During the Left regime, whenever there were any problems, there used be meetings between the Union Leaders and the management of that organization.  INTTUC never took that path. For policy matters, it arranged for a tripartite meeting – between the management, the trade Union and the Govt official (Labour Dept. Officers). What happened after this was outstanding –

a) The meeting now constitutes of 3 bodies, the working class, the Management and the Govt. representative, so the Govt. was aware of the situation.

b) No undue advantage could be taken by anybody.

c) All the stipulations of the Industrial Laws and Labor Laws were put in to effect.

d) A harmony created in Industrial Relations between the working class and the management.

e) Dignity of the Trade Union Leaders, that was long lost, reaffirmed, faith on trade Union returns, as Govt. is a part of the whole settlement process.

f) Trade Unions no longer need to place any extra Charter of Demands as their demands to exert Labour Laws are already being met with.

The next point is equally important. Trinamool Chairperson, back in 2009 said that there should not be any Strikes, Bandhs etc. that would disturb the industrial growth of Bengal. INTTUC has been following this categorically. I must state that during the Left regime, the number of closed small/medium and large scale industries are more than 56,000. There have been more than 1 Lakh 13 Thousand sick industries.

Now, let’s have a look at the recent strike or Bandhs in this State and the outcomes –

Feb 28, 2012 – Industrial Strike
Sept 20, 2012 – Transport Strike
20-21 Feb, 2013 – Industrial Strike

The outcome –

Out of 278 Tea Gardens in the State, 3 were closed

Out of 59 Jute Mill – 2 were closed

Airport – All the flights took off and on peacefully, signifying  the strike did not affect Airlines Staffs as well as flight users who could reach the airport  without any hassles.

Railways – All trains ran like any other day signifying the rejection of the strike by Railways workers.

Coal Mines – All Mines were open and the workers rejected bandhs

Steel Industry – All plants were open

Port – Both Kolkata and Haldia Docks operated

BSNL – All staffs rejected Bandh

Writers’ Bldg and New Secretariat, other Govt. offices  – 97-99% attendance. In the 2012 Bandhs, some staffs spent the earlier night at their respective offices. In 2013, nobody bothered to stay in office the night before as the Bandhs could not stop either transport or the work force.

The Industrial Belts like Haldia, Kharagpur, Kalyani, Naihati-Barrackpore, Howrah-Hooghly, Asansol-Durgapur and Industrial clusters like Bir Shibpur, Kasba, Behala – all had 100% attendance.

Let’s move on to the third point, which is about Man Days. It is calculated in the following manner (Manpower x 8 hr shift x no. of shift).

In-between 2006 and 2011 the total Man Days lost was on an average 76.4 Lakh per year.

In 2011-12 the total loss was 60,000 – less than 1%

In 2012-13 the total loss was 5200.

Whenever there has been any discomfort within the workers, tripartite meetings are held and the problem solved. In most instances, the INTTUC leaders took immediate action to solve things and save Man Days.

The Trinamool Chairperson had always stressed on putting democracy before party culture. The INTTUC came in to being in 1998. Between 1998 and 2011, the Trinamool Trade Union was never asked to participate in any meeting between the working class and the management, anywhere.  In 2011, after the Maa, Mati, Manush Govt. took over, firstly, the meetings between Management and Work force had the inclusion of an Govt. official, secondly, all other trade unions were invited to join.  The result has been stupendous. Around 500 industries could be reopened. In the past, every year, 10-15 jute Mills, tea gardens used to shut down because of problems between management and the work force. That regular affair has ceased to exist.

Now, out of the 59 Jute Mills, two are closed because those are under sub judice.

Out of 278 tea gardens 3 are closed because those are under sub judice.

Even, there has been a change in the trade Union delegation of the INTTUC, which consist equal members from both Non-working leaders and working leaders of the concerned union.

Another very important point would be the decision by the Govt. to create industry and only industry on Industrial Land. No Real estate would be allowed on industrial land. Amongst the sick industries, those possible to be opened will be reopened. But no worker will lose their jobs. All the workers from the previous industry will be re-employed in the newer jobs created.  New workers required in these industries will be taken from the newly formed employment bank.  To keep up with the transparent form of the Govt. this employment bank uses online registration and willing entrepreneurs can use this human resource as par their requirement. Here also, INTTUC acted as a catalyst to bring  this glorious change in industrial relation.

Another very important point that has been brought upon by the INTTUC is the concept of making the work force and management join hands and work for the betterment of the industry. Workers are being educated and made concerned about the work they do.  They are being informed that if the industry survives, they will survive and that they play a major role in industrial growth side by side their own growth.

The slogan of INTTUC, aptly coined, has been ` Save Industry, Save Workers`. The workers, being shown the broader spectrum, will not only stick to their economic demands, but also will be concerned about the well being of the industry.

It is a fact the organized sector comprises 7% of the total work force. The rest 93% belong to the unorganized sector who does not have any of the following:

Fixed Wage
Fixed Work Hours
Provident Fund, pension or gratuity
Health plan

For these unorganized sectors of workers, Samajik Mukti Yojna has been implemented by the Labour Ministry. Anybody who wishes to enroll has to register his/her name if he belongs to any of the 63 categories of livelihood.

Once anybody registers himself or herself, that person will receive a smart card- a Samajik Mukti Card and a zero balance bank account.  Every month the person needs to deposit a minimum of Rs 25 in the account and the Govt. will pay Rs 30 every month.

Thus after 60 years of age that person will be entitled to a sum of around Rs 2.5 Lakh and at any point of time check how much he is saving with his smart card.

The other benefits include sum of Rs 50,000 compensation on natural death, Rs 1, 50,000 on unnatural death. Anybody who has deposited Rs 25 in his /her account for two months is entitled to receive compensation.  The card holder is entitled to Rs 40,000 in health insurances in Govt. Hospital, loans for daughter’s marriage, children’s education.

INTTUC acted as catalyst to all the most positive changes performed by the Labour Ministry.

Let’s check some facts.

The Central Govt. filed a case against the Left Govt. because they could not spend Rs 300 Crore for overall social security. That was prior to 2011. Past 2011, the situation became very different.

In January 2013, alone Rs 100 crore was spent for social security.
In between 2006 and 2011 Rs 1 Cr 46 lakh was spent for the social security of the masons.
In between 2012 and 2013 the amount spent was Rs 47 Cr.

The numbers are all there to prove points. Need we say more?

Ms Dola Sen