The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) is one of the major Central Trade Unions (CTU) in India. The CITU is progressive trade union centre, opposed to imperialist globalisation, championing the cause of working class and defending economic sovereignty of the country.
The CITU Conference takes place once in three years. This is the 11th Conference of CITU. From the 7th conference held in the year 1991, the membership strength of CITU during the period between the two conferences has been going up on an average by 0.5 million. The present conference of CITU is held based on the membership strength of about 3.4 million and with around 4,000 trade unions affiliated to it, functioning in different industries and service sectors. Besides, there are a number of trade unions in the country particularly in Insurance, Banking and the central and provincial government services, which are not formally affiliated with CTUs but represent thousands of workers. Many such unaffiliated trade unions are having close organisational relations with the CITU and can also be reckoned for counting the overall strength and influence of CITU.
The CITU represents workers in every field of trade activities including the workers in industrial and service sectors like Coal, Electricity, Steel, Heavy Engineering, Construction, Electronics, Oil & Natural Gas - production and refining, Petrochemicals, Fertilisers, Pharmaceuticals, Rail, Road, Air & Water Transport, Port & Docks, Telecommunications, Textile, Financial & other service sectors, Plantation, etc. Apart from the organised sector, the CITU has got pioneering role in organising the unorganised and informal sector workers, which dominate the numerical strength of the work force in India.
Yet another important segment of the trade union movement in the country is the working women. Organising the working women is a priority agenda of CITU. The All India Coordination Committee of Working Women (CITU) had been functioning for over two decades, focusing its attention on mobilising the women workers and promoting women cadres to leadership position in the trade unions.
The CITU has fraternal links with the trade union centres in several countries and frequent exchange of views/communications, mutual visits by delegations are regularly taking place. The CITU has been participating in seminars, workshops and other meets organised by different agencies at national and international levels on various issues, especially pertaining to the working class and trade union movement.
The CITU is bringing out its official monthly organ `The Working Class’ (in English) which is in its 34th year of publication, and “CITU Mazdoor” (in Hindi), in its 24th year of publication. The CITU has published a large number of books and pamphlets, both in English and Hindi, covering various subjects of interest to the working class.
At enterprise level, activity of the CITU unions pertains to organising workers for achieving better wages, service condition, health and safety, etc and through those activities consolidating the collective strength and consciousness of the workers. Besides the above, the CITU unions also intervene in the various aspects of management of the enterprise seeking greater involvement of the workers in the efficient running of the enterprise and for strengthening participative mechanism at enterprise-level.
The CITU unions also carry on detailed study of the technology at the industry level to equip them for effective intervention. Side by side the CITU unions have undertaken the task of uniting other trade unions and also officers’ organisations in the enterprise level to pressurise the management, government and the related agencies for redressal of workers’ grievances at the enterprise/industry level.
Apart from the fight against the onslaughts of imperialist globalisation in general, the CITU is engaged in particular in the fight against the anti-people policies of liberalisation and privatisation. The important issues before the trade union movement in the country, inter alia, are attacks on trade union right, right to strike, right to collective bargaining, pro-employer retrograde changes in the labour laws, reduction of social security, closure of industrial units and massive retrenchment of workers, outsourcing and casualisation/informalisation of employment, menacing growth of unemployment, etc. In India, the present coalition government at the national level has been promoting religious fanaticism and engineering sectarian violence to divide the working class and the people in the country on religious communal lines. They are employing such notorious tactics to cover their failure on all fronts and to divert the attention of the people from the hardships of life and livelihood. The CITU is engaged in the struggle against such divisive forces, defending the unity of working class.
At macro level, the CITU has undertaken the task for uniting the trade union movement as a whole in the struggle for reshaping the government policy in the overall interest of the national economy, sustainable and self-reliant industrial development, the working class and common people. The CITU has been playing pivotal role in strengthening the unity and struggles of working class in the country. Widespread agitation in different forms all over the country, local and national levels demonstrations by millions of workers and countrywide strikes have been organised jointly by the central trade unions and federations of industrial workers and government employees. While pursuing this task, the CITU also took initiative in uniting the mass organisations of peasantry, agricultural workers, students, youth, women and other professionals also. This led to formation of National Platform of Mass Organisations, a platform which organised many countrywide strikes and various other agitations and campaigns. Recently, the apex judiciary in the country, the Supreme Court of India, came out with a judgement, with pronouncements denying the workers of their ‘Right to Strike’. The CITU, along with the other CTUs had been spearheading the resistance struggle to get the pernicious impact of the judgement nullified. The period ahead is slated to witness nationwide united strikes to defend the right to strike, as well as more anti-privatisation strikes in the different industrial sectors like Coal, Oil & Refinery, Electricity, and Financial Sectors.