Labour bodies call lockout against the ‘anti-labour policies' of the Centre

The United Progressive Alliance-II government and the 11 recognised Central trade unions have locked horns even as preparations are in full swing for the “general strike” called on Tuesday by the labour bodies against the “liberal and economic policies and other anti-labour policies” of the Central government.

There are about 40 crore workers/employees in the country of whom three crore work in the organised sectors and 37 crore in the unorganised sectors.

Work and services of Central/State governments departments and their public sector undertakings, transport (except railway and airlines), telecom, post and telegraph, defence production, banks, insurance, port and docks and private sector will be affected as the members affiliated to various trade unions are expected to join the strike, according to All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) general secretary Gurudas Das Gupta.

Meanwhile, Union Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has appealed to the trade unions not to go on strike.

In a statement, he said the trade unions had called the strike when the country was focused on achieving high economic growth. Most of the issues relating to labour raised by the unions had already been addressed to a substantial extent. “However, I do assure all the Central trade unions that I am always open to discussions on any of the issues relating to labour at anytime and resolve the same amicably through consultations,” he said.

There was no denying the fact that the proposed strike would not only cause colossal economic loss to the country but also bring hardship and inconvenience to the common man, Mr. Kharge said.

However, Mr. Gupta, who is firm on the strike plan, said the unions were not against the foreign direct investment in the private sector and their making profit. “We want the rights of the workers to be protected and they should get a fair deal for the work they are doing. The government should protect the working class.”

The labour unions also seek a check on the “soaring prices” of the essential commodities, measures to protect employment and strict enforcement of the labour laws. The agitation will also take up the cause of those in the unorganised sector, and seek the enforcement of the Minimum Wages Act, removal of ceiling on bonus and pension and assured pension to all classes of employees.

Besides, the Indian National Trade Union Congress, the trade union wing of the Congress, other major central trade unions such as the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the AITUC, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the Hind Mazdoor Sabha and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's Labour Progressive Front and unions affiliated to the Shiv Sena and the Muslim League are joining the stir.

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