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11 national trade unions confirm Sept 2 strike plan

11 national trade unions confirm Sept 2 strike plan
Eleven central trade unions, including BJP-backed BMS, on <g data-gr-id="95">Tuesday</g> called for a one-day nationwide general strike on September 2 to protest against government’s unilateral labour reforms. The strike call coincides with NDA government completing one-year in office. “All-India general strike on September 2, 2015. The national convention calls upon the trade unions and working people irrespective of affiliations to unite and make the country-wide general strike a massive success,” said a declaration at national convention of workers, under the aegis of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS).

The convention had participants from <g data-gr-id="41">INTUC</g>, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF. “The government’ aim in aggressively pushing through sweeping changes in labour laws is nothing but to push out overwhelming majority of workers out of the coverage of all labour laws and to drastically curb the trade union rights,” the declaration said.

Expressing deep concerns over government’s “anti-worker, anti-people and pro-corporate actions”, it said, the actions of the present government is in pursuance to its policy of globalisation. “During this period the government has been over-busy in amending all labour laws to empower employers with unfettered rights to ‘hire and fire’ and stripping the workers and trade unions of all their rights and benefits besides aggressively pushing through almost unlimited FDI in strategic sectors like railways, defence and financial sector,” it said.

Unions have been opposing certain proposed labour law amendments which <g data-gr-id="47">allows</g> hire and fire, <g data-gr-id="48">makes</g> it tougher to make labour unions and diluting existing social security net available to the workers at different fora. Under the proposed Industrial Relations Code Bill 2015, the employers with up to 300 workers would not require government permission for retrenchment, <g data-gr-id="44">lay off</g> and closure. 

The government has formed an inter-ministerial panel to hold “threadbare discussions” with representatives of unions on their 10-point charter of demands and other issues raised for recommending measures to address those issues. The members of the inter-ministerial panel <g data-gr-id="45">are:</g> Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh.

Earlier this month, the Labour Ministry had convened a meeting of 12 central trade unions to discuss issues related to their 10-point charter and reservations against certain changes in labour laws. Besides Dattatreya, Goyal and Pradhan had attended the meeting with trade unions. The central trade unions’ 10-point agenda includes demands seeking government steps to deal with issues like price rise and unemployment. 

“The government has not taken any step to <g data-gr-id="54">curb</g> price rise of essential commodities and to generate employment except making tall claims of containing inflation in the media. “On <g data-gr-id="49">universalising</g> the public distribution system, the government is trying to scuttle it through direct <g data-gr-id="52">benefit</g> transfer resulting further squeeze on the common people,” said the convention declaration. Providing universal social security cover for workers and stopping disinvestment of PSUs are also part of demands. 

Among others, there is also a demand for minimum wages of not less than Rs 15,000 per month with indexation and universal social security benefits and pension for all including the unorganised sector workers. The convention said allowing FDI in defence, insurance, railways and raising it in sectors such as oil and financial sector will be detrimental to the interests of the national economy, national security as well as mass of the common people.

It also condemned sweeping change sought to bring in Land Acquisition Act permitting forcible acquisition of land from farmers and putting in jeopardy the livelihood to agricultural workers. 

“The convention supports the decision of the constituents of the JCM of central government staff to go on indefinite strike from November 23, 2015 and will decide at an appropriate stage the form of solidarity action to be taken.” 
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