The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has called for an all-India ‘Bharat Vyapar Bandh'(traders bandh) on December 1 to protest against the Union government's decision to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent FDI in single brand retail.

In a statement here, CAIT said it had the support of the Bharat Udyog Vyapar Mandal for the call given to traders to shut their shops to protest against the move to open up the retail segment to foreign investment. It said the organisation would mobilise the support of all political parties against this move and urged the government to revoke the decision in the interest of the people and farmers of the country. It claimed that around 10,000 retail organisations of the country were expected to take part in the strike.

It further stated that FDI in retail would create imbalances in the trading system and tilt the scale in favour of multinational companies, making the emerging scenario a nightmare for small and marginal traders.

Similarly, UNI Global Union, claiming to represent 900 trade unions all over the world, in a statement from Nyon, Switzerland, said the decision by India to throw open the doors of its $450-billion retail market would have serious repercussions for jobs in both the manufacturing and services sectors.

It said global supermarkets such as Walmart and Tesco stood to gain at the expense of India's millions of small traders and workers who were part of the domestic supply chain. The requirement that the multinationals would have to source 30 per cent of sales from local small and medium sized companies is not enough and not backed by independent monitoring of investment and procurement. The government has rejected independent monitoring in favour of self-certification which the UNI says is a system open to abuse.

UNI Global Union general secretary Philip Jennings said: “We are appalled by this decision and stand fully behind the trade unions in India who have made it clear that opening the doors to foreign companies like Walmart would be catastrophic for India's small traders.

It said Walmart and many other global retailers “have a poor track record in labour relations and protecting workers.” The statement said some retailers, like Carrefour, have signed Global Agreements with UNI to guarantee fundamental worker rights around the world. Walmart has taken an extreme position against allowing unions in its home country, the United States, where not a single worker is represented by a union among its 1.6 million employees.

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