New Delhi: A mega two-day trade union strike started on Wednesday after union leaders failed to arrive at a consensus in talks with the government.
The strike called by country’s 11 registered trade unions, cutting across party lines, started from Tuesday midnight to protest against the “anti-people” policies of the UPA govt that include price rise, poor implementation of labour laws and disinvestment in PSUs/increased FDI in various sectors.
Pensions for everyone along with removal of ceiling on bonus and provident fund are among the demands raised by the unions. Apart from all the 11 trade unions, over 2000 independent unions have also joined the protest.
Apart from unions owing allegiance to the Left, the pro-Congress INTUC and pro-BJP BMS are also participating in the strike.
The strike has been called jointly by the Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh (BMS), All India Trade union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) and other such organisations.
Major sectors like banking, transport, ports, power and telecom agreed to join the protest call.
With some state governments like in Odisha, Bihar, Karnataka among others deciding to support the strike, the two-day strike will hit common people severely. The railways and air services are expected to function normally as they are not part of the strike.
In Kerala, the Congress-led UDF government declared `dies non` (no work, no pay) as pro-Left service and teachers unions are also striking work.
The Trinammool Congress government in West Bengal issued a circular to all its employees asking them to be present in offices failing which they would be served showcause notices.
Terming Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee`s threats to foil the two-day strike call as "llegal", the labour arm of CPI(M)- CITU threatened to file a case against state chief secretary Sanjoy Mitra if the state government forcefully tries to stop government workers from participating in the strike.
Trade union leaders met a government committee comprising AK Antony, Sharad Pawar and Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday.
After the meeting, CITU president A K Padmanabhan said, "The government has nothing to offer. We are going ahead with the strike. We expect it to be hugely successful."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also made an appeal to all the trade unions to withdraw their call for a strike as it would cause loss to the economy and inconvenience to general public.
The UPA government also warned employees of "consequences" including deduction in wages and disciplinary action if they take part in the protest.
In a stern directive, the Department of Personnel and Training wrote to secretaries of all central government ministries not to sanction any kind of leave to employees during the period of the proposed strike.
Major trade unions on Tuesday held separate meetings ahead of the two-day general strike called by them.
The meetings were basically a "stock taking exercise" ahead of the strike call, CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen said.
With PTI inputs