‘Govt statement on proposed strike ritualistic’

Major trade unions have said they would not consider ritualistic statement as there has been no genuine move to consider workers` demand.

New Delhi: Rejecting the government`s appeal
to desist from the proposed countrywide strike on February 28,
major trade unions have said they would not consider such a
"ritualistic statement" as there has been no genuine move to
consider workers` demand.

The general strike, which has been called to protest the
"anti-labour" policies of the government, would cover all
sectors barring Railways.

AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said the
government`s appeal has come "too late" as it had the
opportunity to discuss workers` issues at the recently-
concluded Indian Labour Congress but it "never displayed any

The unions had on December 2 last year decided to go on
strike on February 28.

"It is good that it has appealed though late in the day.
If the government was serious, when the issue was raised in
the Indian Labour Conference, they could have discussed it
with the trade unions.Even the prime minister himself was made aware but
government did not move... It is just a
formality. We are not ready to consider such a ritualistic
statement on the part of the government," he said.

Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) leader Dipankar
Mukherjee said the Labour Ministry`s appeal to desist from
observing the strike does not hold merit as it is the "weakest
ministry" which has failed to end sufferings of the workers.

The Labour Ministry had on Friday appealed to the trade
unions to desist from going on strike, saying it was ready to
discus with them any kind of labour-related issue.

The trade unions are demanding no contractorisation of
work -- permanent or perennial nature, amendment of Minimum
Wages Act, assured pension for all and compulsory registration
of trade union among others.

Dasgupta said it was for the first time in history that
all the 11 major trade unions, including UPA ally Indian Union
Muslim League`s trade-wing STU, have joined hands to support
the strike. Even Shiv Sena-affiliated Bharatiya Kamgar Sena is
participating in the strike, he said.

Others such as Congress-backed Indian National Trade
Union Congress (INTUC) and BJP`s Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh would
also join the strike, Dasgupta said, lauding INTUC president G
Sanjeeva Reddy for being the "most consistent fighter in our
joint struggle".

However, he was critical of the West Bengal government`s
decision to oppose the strike.

"There could be problem in West Bengal the way the state
government is handling this. The aggressive mentality taken is
not to be seen anywhere. Strike is a legitimate right of the
workers and is guaranteed under the constitution and is part
of the ILO conventions," he said.

Mukherjee, on the other hand, said the fight was against
the lack of will of the government to heed to the demands of

"It`s been over a year now, but the Labour Ministry has
failed to do anything on the Contract Labour Amendment Act
which would give contract workers all benefits enjoyed by
regular workers," he said.