New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi has backed the party-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) in joining the other trade unions` call for a nation-wide shutdown Sept 7 against the "anti-worker" policies of the central and state governments, a party leader said Sunday.
"When the senior party leaders appraised her at an informal meeting recently about INTUC`s decision to join the general strike, Gandhi told them that `INTUC is meant for that` and directed senior party leader Oscar Fernandes to co-ordinate with the union government, party and INTUC to settle the workers` demands," the leader, who did not want to be identified, said.
The leader said Gandhi said she will herself take up the workers` issues with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"I will talk to the prime minister (about the workers`s demands). INTUC must take up workers` issues," Gandhi told the meeting.
Sources in the INTUC said both Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Fernandes spoke to INTUC president G Sanjeeva Reddy about the workers` demands after Gandhi`s directives.
Protesting against price rise, violation of labour laws and disinvestment of public sector units (PSUs), eight major trade unions, including INTUC and the trade unions affiliated to the Left parties, have called for a country-wide general strike Sept 7.
The trade unions are also demanding rehabilitation of the workers and employees who lost their jobs due to the economic recession and for Rs.50,000 crore for an unorganised workers` social security fund. The government has only allocated Rs.1,000 crore for 40 crore unorganised workers in the country.
The other trade unions which have called the strike include Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-affiliated Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS). The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, which is close to the Bharatiya Janata Party has not yet revealed its position.
INTUC national secretary R Chandrasekharan told IANS that it was the first time in the history of independent India that INTUC had joined the trade unions affiliated to other political parties to call for an all India strike.
Dismissing the allegations by certain sections in the Congress party that it was a strike against the policies of the Manmohan Singh government, Chandrasekharan stressed the strike has been called for against anti-worker policies of both the centre and state governments.
"INTUC is always with the Congress party and the Central government. The state governments in the country are not controlled by the Congress party alone. This is a movement by the combined workforce to open the eyes of the government," he said.