Trade unions have rejected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's appeal to call off the all-India strike on Tuesday.
Dr. Singh reportedly got in touch with the Congress-backed Indian National Trade Union Congress president G. Sanjeeva Reddy and urged him to convey his appeal to the apex body of the unions coordinating the strike.
It is the first time since independence that trade unions of all hues have got together to register their protest on a wide range of issues stemming out of the liberalisation policy.
“The appeal of the Prime Minister 48 hours before the proposed strike has no meaning. We are going ahead with the strike. If the government is seriously interested in resolving the concerns of the workers, it should call leaders of all trade unions for talks after the strike,” general secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress Gurudas Dasgupta told The Hindu .
In a statement, Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said: “Most of the issues relating to labour raised by the central trade unions have already been addressed to a substantial extent. However, I do assure all them that I am always open to discussions on any of the issues relating to labour at any time and resolve the same amicably through consultations.”
Workers of all 11 recognised unions (to be recognised, a union has to have 4 lakh members on its rolls) and 5,000 un-affiliated unions would strike work on Tuesday. It will impact the banking, postal, ports and government sectors.
The demands of the unions include strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption, stringent punitive measures for violation of labour laws, universal social security cover for the unorganised sector workers without any restriction, and the creation of a National Social Security Fund.
The charter also seeks stoppage of disinvestment in Central and State profit-making Public Sector Undertakings.
The trade unions want the government to step in against giving on contract work of permanent/perennial nature and to ensure payment of wages and benefits to contract workers on a par with those to regular workers of the industry/establishment.
Their other demands include amendment of the Minimum Wages Act to ensure universal coverage irrespective of the schedules, fixation of statutory minimum wage at not less than Rs. 10,000, removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of Bonus and Provident Fund, and increase in the quantum of gratuity and assured pension for all.
Mr. Dasgupta said that despite several representations in the past few months, the government had been unmoved on the major concerns of the working people.
The annual Indian Labour Conference on February 14 and 15 in the presence of Dr. Singh articulated most of the demands and conveyed to him why the workers were compelled to take recourse to strike.
However, there was no response either from him or the Labour Minister.
· “Government should call leaders of all unions for talks after the strike to address concerns”
· Unions demand strict enforcement of all labour laws without exception