S. Varalaxmi, secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), urged trade unions involved in the two-day general strike to convert it into an all-India bandh, to express their opposition to the “anti-people and anti-worker” policies of the Union government.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, Ms. Varalaxmi said that for the first time since Independence, the major trade unions had called for a 48-hour general strike from February 20. To maximise the impact of the strike, it should be converted into an all-India bandh, she said.

She said that the gross domestic product growth rate had slumped to new lows because of the policies pursued by the Union government. The reduction in the purchasing power of the people has resulted in stagnancy in the industrial production and marketing sectors. Although the Indian Labour Conference (ILC) had endorsed the long-pending demand to increase minimum wages to Rs. 10,000 in 2012, the government is yet to implement this recommendation. ILC’s minimum wage is much lower than the actual requirement of a small family.

In addition, the government had not responded to the demand to abolish the contract employment system in toto. The ILC had recommended that the government make it mandatory for employers to extend the same wage system enjoyed by permanent employees to contract labourers performing the same duties.

She said that the government had failed to control the rise in the prices of essential commodities. “Inflation is reaching new heights, and the rise in the prices of petrol and diesel has made life miserable for the common man, and contributed to the increase in the prices of essential commodities,” she said.

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