Memoirs of Revolutionary Trade Unionism and A Retirement at Ordnance Factory Trichy, Tamil Nadu

Books on defence civilian employees' trade union movement, defence policies and on Indian American military relations were released in a function at Trichy on 28 April on the eve of retirement of Comrade Azhageshwaran, a Marxist - Leninist thinker, emerged from the ranks of working class in defence sector. He was also a renowned trade union leader of ordnance factory, Trichirappalli, for more than 25 years. He was the president of Ordnance factory employees' Union, affiliated to AIDEF, but represented a trend of revolutionary trade unionism in defence employees’ movement. In his stewardship, ordnance factory employees' Union registered many victories against the onslaught of the management.          

Comrade.Azhageswaran has written and published total of 9 books in Tamil on government's defence policies, critic of defence production system and on defence civilian employees trade union movement, etc., and 3 books were released on that day. 

The meeting was addressed by All India president of AICCTU Com.Shankar, Com.Balasundaram, CCM of CPI ML, Com.Desikan state GS of AICCTU along with unit level leaders belonging to various unions.

Com.Shankar in his address said that the Modi led BJP government is privatising defence factories under the plea of corporatisation. But, the real aim is to turn the country into a death merchant and to build a military - industrial complex in the country through privatisation. In such a context, we need a militant and revolutionary orientation to the trade union movement in the defence sector. He called upon the defence working class to rise to the occasion and to fight out Modi's fascist intentions by building a powerful defense workers movement with alternative approach, perspective and orientation.

Com Balasundaram who also wrote a foreward to one of his books recalled the militant struggle when comrade Azhageswaran sat on an indefinite hunger fast on the key demand of workers. His family members entering into the scene when his health deteriorated, attracted massive participation and the struggle ended up in a victory note.

Com Desikan recalled the activities of the Defence Contract Labour union, affiliated to AICCTU and his days as its president. He said that minimum social security benefits were ensured at that time because of the involvement and support of the permanent employees in addition to the struggles of contract employees.

Com Azhageshwaran explained the militant struggles inspired by revolutionary ideas that secured several benefits to OFT employees, including no disparity in OT till now, halt to onslaughts of the management for decades and also mass of workers involvement achieved through the practice of democratic functioning. 

His book on defence civilian employees' trade union movement dealt with various aspects of trade union practice in Ordnance factories which included effective use of bipartite and tripartite negotiating mechanism, joint consultative machinery, works committee, also the ways and means of ensuring wider participation of workers in struggles, in grooming trade union activists so on and so forth.

Activists of Ordnance factory employees' Union recalled their association with AICCTU during its formation as a revolutionary trade union centre. They said that its guiding principles inspired the orientation for struggles of the rights of defence civilian employees.

Speakers at the function felt that when the Central government is pursuing a policy of privatising Ordnance factories in the guise of corporatization and when employment of its 80,000 employees are at stake, Com.Azhageswaran's writings and his trade union experience will be a torch bearer to thwart Government's design and for advancement of trade union movement. Speakers also appreciated his valuable contribution to the trade union movement and wished him to carry forward his social work even after his retirement.

It turned out to be a book release function and also a discussion on revolutionary or alternative trade unionism.