Oppn-backed trade unions call national strike on Jan 8

 Police personnel clash with protesting Anganwadi volunteers during the 48-hour-long nationwide general strike called by central trade unions protesting against the "anti-people" policies of the Centre, in Patna on Jan 8, 2019. Photp/PTI

Protesting against the "anti-worker, anti-people, anti-national" policies of the Narendra Modi government, trade unions affiliated with the Opposition parties have announced a general strike on January 8.

On the same day this year, the trade unions had started a two-day national strike in which the organisers claimed that around 20 crore workers, both public and private , including multinational companies, participated.

The decision to organise the general strike next January was taken at a National Convention called by 10 central trade unions -- INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC -- on September 30.

Independent federations and associations of various sectors will also participate in the strike, organisers said.

With the economy "slowing down," the unions said, the "adverse effects" are already being felt by the workers in unorganised as well as organised sectors in the form of large scale retrenchment and closures.

"In the name of the recession, the Centre is taking steps such as reducing corporate taxes, and giving them big bonanza to the tune of Rs 1.45 lakh crore from the exchequer while not a single penny is spent to ensure job security or employment allowance to the workers. The government measures are supply-side, when all the economists are unanimous that the crisis is on the demand-side," they said.

The trade unions are demanding a national minimum wage of Rs 21,000 per month, pension to all, restoration of old pension scheme, generation of new jobs and filling up of sanctioned posts, strengthening of welfare boards for unorganised sector workers and increased budgetary provision for MNREGA and agriculture that “will put money in the hands of the toilers and give boost” to the economy.

Other concerns raised by the trade unions include codification of Labour Laws, allowing fixed-term employment, privatisation of public sector undertaking, allowing 100 percent FDI in railways, defence, coal and other sectors and bank mergers, which they believe "will lead to massive redundancies and extreme exploitation of workers".

The unions also accuse the government of allowing reduction of contributions of employers under the Provident Fund Act and the Employees State Insurance Act claiming that it will increase the take-home pay of the workers.

They said workers have repeatedly warned against these "retrograde steps" earlier but the government persists by using "diversionary tactics of raising emotive non-issues" to divide the people and haunt the minorities. 

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