Trade unions slam govt's 'anti-labour' policies, threaten stir

Trade unions slam govt's 'anti-labour' policies, threaten stir

Hardening their stance against what they charged was the "anti-labour" policies of the Narendra Modi government, the central trade unions today warned that they would intensify their protest over its "pro-corporate" outlook and may even hold a nationwide strike.

Thousands of workers affiliated to all 11 central trade unions staged a nationwide protest today which saw them denouncing the government's policy of disinvestment of public sector undertakings and for hiking FD in various sectors.

Trade unions, including the RSS-affiliated Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), took part in the protests held simultaneously at various state and district headquarters across the country with a massive dharna also being organised at Jantar Mantar in the national capital.

Slamming the various decisions taken by the government which they said would have a "seriously negative impact" on working conditions, the trade unions said that the NDA dispensation's "unilateral" moves "may compel the unions to further intensify the joint action programme, including sectoral and general strike".

"A new phase of united action of trade unions has begun. We will be continuously going in for struggle now. All the 11 central trade unions took part in the protest.
"Each and every trade union lambasted the government for its anti-worker policy and the trade unions would not allow the government to do whatever it wants just because they have a clear majority," said CITU president AK Padmanabhan.

Describing as "retrograde" the government's move to hike or allow FDI in defence, insurance and railways as also the decision for disinvestment in PSUs, the trade unions said it would be "detrimental to the interests of the economy and national security and to the common people".

"Labour law reforms have been undertaken to favour the corporate sector only. Now they are privatising the railways. This is a way of giving away to the corporate sector land at prime locations belonging to the railways," claimed Vrijesh Upadhyay, the BMS general secretary.

Asked if the unions would intensify their stir, he said, "We have decided to sit together in the last week of December and chalk out the next course of action. It may include a call for a strike as well since it is the only option left."

The protests today were called by all the central trade unions, among which are BMS, Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), AITUC, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC).

The unions also urged Rajasthan government to reverse the amendments it have enacted to state labour laws even as it urged the Centre to desist from the "unilateral" move to amend labour laws. It sought for the Centre to consult and honour the views of the trade unions on all labour-related issues.

AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta termed the protest "historic" as all the trade unions had come together to fight the anti-worker policies of the government.

He said that the workers are being denied their due and the government is now excluding them from the protection of labour laws, which the trade unions had won after years of struggle.

"The government is only interested in benefiting the corporate sector and that is why they want to create a trade- union free environment," he said.

Dasgupta said that if the government does not listen to the trade unions and continues with its "anti-worker" stance, the unions would be forced to go for a bigger action.

An AITUC statement said that as per reports, several lakh workers in different states observed the protest today.

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