Strike may hit key services today

Strike may hit key services today

Strike may hit key services today

The nationwide strike called by 10 central trade unions on Wednesday against the anti-labour policies of the Union government is likely to impact essential services across the nation.

The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, an RSS affiliate, however, walked out at the last moment.
The strike may hit work at government offices, post offices, banking sector, flights and also supply of gas and other services. Since many state-level unions have joined in, power supply could also be affected in some parts of the country.

The railways, however, will not participate in the strike and some special services like supply of dairy products, fire and ambulance services have been exempted.

The trade unions remained active on Tuesday to ensure a big success even as Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya wrote a letter asking them to reconsider their decision.

Dattatreya claimed that there was consensus on 9 of the 12 demands, but the trade unions rejected the claim. “The government did not offer any tangible solution,” said AITUC president Gurudas Dasgupta.

Their demands include containing price-rise and unemployment, strict enforcement of all basic labour laws and end to FDI in railways, insurance and defence sector.

The trade unions also want universal social security cover for all workers, minimum wages of not less than Rs 15,000 per month, enhanced pension of not less than Rs 3,000 per month, removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus and provident fund, increase in the quantum of gratuity and compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days.  

According to trade union leaders, this would be the biggest-ever strike in the country. The last general strike was called on February 20-21, 2013, on more or less the same set of issues. The only new demands are those concerning FDI and pro-labour reforms.

 “About 15 crore workers had participated in the 2013 strike. This time we expect more participation,” CITU president A K Padmanabhan told Deccan Herald.

The 2013 strike was called and supported by all 11 central trade unions, including the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS). This time, the BMS has decided to stay out.

“They decided to walkout at the last moment despite the fact that they played an important role in deciding the date of the strike,” said CITU general secretary Tapan Sen.
The central trade unions took the decision to go on a strike in a joint convention on May 26. The government constituted an inter-ministerial committee headed by Arun Jaitley which held two rounds of discussions. The last round of meeting was held on August 26 and 27.

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