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Sunday, August 28, 2016

All but BMS reject appeal to call off Sept.2 strike

Support for the strike from so many sections could make it one of the biggest in recent memory

All the central trade unions (CTUs), barring the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) on Saturday evening categorically rejected the appeal made on Friday by the Union Labour and Employment Minister Bandaru Dattatreya to call off the scheduled September 2 all-India general strike.

Responding to an e-mail sent by the Minister to the trade unions, which lists the ‘proactive steps’ taken by the government to address the unions’ charter of demands, AITUC General Secretary Gurudas Das Gupta told The Hindu, “The Minister’s letter and the status report on our charter of demands is a repetition of old arguments. Nothing tangible has been offered, so our decision to strike stands.” 

An isolated BMS, which has had two rounds of talks with the Group of Ministers led by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, is waiting to hear formally from the government before taking a view on the strike.

Virjesh Upadhyay, BMS’ General Secretary told The Hindu, “Yes, I have heard of the Minister’s letter. We do not appreciate the approach of the Centre. Having said that, I want to state that we observed a certain advancement in the position of the government on our demands on issues related to anganwadi workers, bonus, and minimum wages. So, we would wait for a formal word from the government on commitments made to us. Otherwise, we would be compelled to take action.”

The AITUC leader’s letter to the Minister argues that for over a year, the GoM had not convened a single meeting with any central trade union barring one [the BMS].

The letter adds: “The government is going ahead with pro-employer labour law amendments through executive orders or otherwise, and giving assent to the anti-worker amendments moved by some state governments.”

Similar one last year
CTUs had observed a similar strike on September 2 last year on a broad chapter of 12 demands in protest against what they had termed as the “anti-people” policies of the Narendra Modi government. The BMS, which had initially agreed to the strike call, backed off in the last minute.

Unions of central government employees, who have their own grievances related to the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission, are also mulling over the possibility of extending support to the strike.

Last week, university and college teachers’ unions backed the strike. Support to the strike from so many sections could make it one of the biggest in recent memory. 

Among the demands of the trade unions are strict enforcement of all basic labour laws, minimum wages of not less than Rs. 15,000 per month with provisions of indexation, assured enhanced pension of not less than Rs. 3,000 per month, stoppage of disinvestment in central/state PSUs, the end of contracting permanent perennial work, and the payment of same wages.
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