To oppose UPA's anti-poor policies
To oppose UPA's anti-poor policies, for the first time in six decades all trade unions join
By Pramod Kumar
Despite all attempts by the central and some state governments to thwart the nationwide strike called by all 12 major central trade unions (CTUs) on February 28, the strike hit the normal life all over the country. The workers responded enthusiastically in almost all the major industries including government departments. The public sector banking and insurance operations mostly remained paralysed while the transport services were hit in many states.
“The strike has been peaceful and successful in public sector, banks, LIC, defence production, transport, port & dock, coal, steel, electricity and private sector. The agriculture and unorganised sector workers including beedi, construction and Aganwadi also participated in the strike. Going by state wise and industry wise data and information received by BMS it is estimated that more than 10 crore workers joined the strike,” said BMS general secretary Shri Baijnath Rai. He said the future course of action would be chalked out in consultation with all the CTUs and would be announced shortly. “We gave the government ample opportunity to discuss our demands, but it did not respond. We are fighting for our rights against a government which is anti-people,” said AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta.
The normal life was affected in Kerala, Odisha, Tripura, West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, etc. Though the Trinamool Congress government pulled all stops to neutralise the strike, shops, markets and business establishments were mostly closed in many areas of West Bengal and the state-run buses and trams plied with fewer passengers. Hundreds of pro-strike supporters were arrested in different districts for obstructing rail and road traffic. In Delhi, the auto and taxi drivers kept their vehicles off the roads in support of the strike. Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana witnessed disruptions in the banking and transport sector.
“The shutdown in the banking and financial sector has been complete. The RBI’s clearing houses are shut. So the new private generation banks where we do not have a presence also get affected,” general secretary of National Organisaiton of Bank Workers (NOBW) Shri Ashwini Rana claimed.
“Though four years since passed, the demand for adequate funds for the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008, is not yet conceded. Since three years, the workers have been demanding for a minimum pension of Rs 3000/- per month. Pending finalisation, as an interim measure, the workers demanded pension of Rs 1000/- which require an annual contribution of 0.63 per cent (equivalent to Rs. 480 crore) to the pension fund which is also negated by the government. This government is the biggest labour exploiter and violator of the labour laws in respect of the wage, benefits and social security. It is the government that thrust the strike on the workers,” added Shri Baijnath Rai.
Major demands of the Central Trade Unions raised during the strike
- o Bring back the black money stashed away abroad and invest that in industries to generate employment
- Stop privatisation, contract system and outsourcing, regularise contract workers, equal pay for equal work
- Strict enforcement of labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measures to employers for violation of labour laws
- Minimum wage should not be less than Rs 11000/- per month. All payments should be made through cheques/ECS
- Declare all Aganwadi, Ashaakarmi, mid-day meal, Shiksha Mitra, Gramsewak and similar other workers as government employees
- Remove ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus, gratuity and PF and stop managing PF money by private fund managers
- Fill the vacant posts immediately and restore all Group-D employees abolished by the 6th Pay Commission
- Take immediate concrete measures to contain price rise, stop future trading and mall culture immediately
- Stop destructing Rehdi, Patri, Khomcha vendors
- Provide pension, insurance and free medical care to all unorganised sector workers
- Restore the old pension scheme instead of the new one
- Stop FDI in retail sector
- Stop disinvestment in PSUs
- Stop migration of villagers by creating job opportunities there and the minimum wage in MNAREGA should be Rs 200
- Form Wage Boards immediately in private sectors employees i.e. Jute, Textiles, Engineering, Sugar, Distillery, etc.
- Rate of commissions for all the agents working under Post Offices for small savings schemes be the same as before and deductions should be returned back
- Registration of Trade Unions should be within a period of 45 days and all labour disputes should be settled within maximum period of six months time
- Abolish SEZ in toto.