PM appeals to Trade Unions to call off strike, offers talks

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed to protesting central Trade Unions to withdraw their 2-day strike from Feb 20 saying it would cause loss to economy, inconvenience to people and offered talks.

Updated: Feb 17, 2013, 21:07 PM IST

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday appealed to protesting central Trade Unions to withdraw their proposed two-day strike from February 20 saying it would cause loss to economy besides inconvenience to people and offered talks.
Protesting against Government`s "inaction" on price rise and alleged violation of labour laws, 11 central trade unions and workers` federation have called for a two-day nationwide strike starting from February 20.

"I appeal to the Central Trade Unions to withdraw their call for countrywide general strike on February 20 and 21. Such a strike would lead to avoidable loss to our economy and inconvenience to the public through disruption of services," the Prime Minster said in his message.

Singh also pointed out that some of the issues raised by the Trade Unions are "already being acted upon" and others are at "various stages of consideration".

While issuing the appeal to the Unions to withdraw their strike call, the Prime Minister said that he has requested his senior Cabinet colleagues A K Antony, Sharad Pawar, P Chidambaram and Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge to hold discussions with them.

"I am confident that these discussions would result in a course of action that is acceptable both to the Trade Unions and the Government," he said.

AITUC General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta had yesterday said that it was for the first time all trade unions have come together for the two-day strike as "Government has not taken any action to look into the problems of sky rise inflation, disinvestment in public sector units and non-implementation of labour laws".

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.

The Independent Federation of Workers and Employees too have joined the protest.

Opposing the contract labour policy, the Unions have also demanded regular employment for jobs of perennial nature.

They are also demanding pensions for everyone along with removal of ceiling on bonus and provident fund.

A statement issued by the Trade Unions yesterday also claimed that federations of road transport, port and dock, petroleum, coal, steel and building and construction will also be on strike.

"Banking, insurance and other financial sector workers will also remain on strike," it had said.

Dasgupta had yesterday said that the unions decided to go on strike as the government was not interested in listening to their demands and has not responded despite their protest call.

"The last minute meeting called by Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge on February 13 resulted in further strengthening of resolve for strike as government could not come forward to resolve any of the issues concerning Labour Ministry," he had said.

He had claimed that over 100 million workers will participate in the strike.

National Secretary of AITUC Amarjeet Kaur, had said that said if the government did not act after the strike, the Unions will intensify their agitation.

"If the government still does not listen, there will be intensification.... We want government to take concrete steps like stopping the deregulation of petrol and diesel prices. They should have price fixation policy. They should have universal ration system, they should control hoarding and black marketing also," she had said.