Unions on two-day strike from today

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 19, 2013 22:45 hrs

New Delhi: An appeal by the government haven’t dissuaded central trade unions (TUs) from a nationwide two-day strike starting tomorrow, against current economic policies. They say these have resulted in price rise, disinvestment, outsourcing and contract labour.

Besides, the unions have been pressing for a national wage floor rate of Rs 10,000 a month. The strike begins a day before the start of Parliament’s Budget session. It might bear maximum brunt in Mumbai, as Shiv Sena, in an unexpected move, has decided to support it.

After the government reached out, in vain, to the unions yesterday, with senior ministers talking to the strike leaders, the finance ministry on Tuesday appealed to bank employees not to join the strike and industry associations appealed to the unions to solve the issues through dialogue with the government.

The ministry said the government was disappointed to note that a section of bank employees had decided to join the strike. "As far as (they) are concerned, there is really no reason at all to join the strike," its statement said.

None of the main points contained in the charter of demands of the TUs has any connection with bank employees, said the ministry. "Banks provide employment to a large number of people and continue to recruit every year. Bank employees have social security cover. They hold regular jobs which carry attractive scales of pay,” the statement said. According to a PTI report, Reserve Bank of India employees all over the country would participate in the strike.

Central TUs say their counterparts in the financial sectors, including banking and insurance, have assured support to the strike. All the national business chambers — Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry — agree the issues raised by the unions are important and need to be addressed, but maintained that a strike would hit the economy hard.

“The timing of this strike will really be a setback and have economic ramifications,” said CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee. Ficci said a tripartite mechanism established by the government, of which trade unions are a part, were discussing these issues.

Based on the latest national accounts numbers released by the Central Statistics Office, Assocham estimated the two-day strike would cause a loss of Rs 15,000-20,000 crore to the gross domestic product, based on the value of each day’s estimated output. The strike has been called by the All India Trade Union Congress, the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, the Indian National Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions and the All India United Trade Union Centre, among others.

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