A unity framework: Gurudas Dasgupta
The emerging unity among the trade unions in the country will have an “institutional framework” with the launch of a united forum, Gurudas Dasgupta said on Wednesday.
“The working classes are not a priority in the agenda of the government,” said Mr. Dasgupta, the general secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress and a senior MP of the Communist Party of India. Even in Parliament, the interests of the workers were being sidelined in favour of the capitalists. Over the past year, a movement for joint action had emerged among the trade unions and this unity will be institutionalised under the chairmanship of G. Sanjeeva Reddy, the president of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), he said.
“The all-India strike called by nine trade unions on September 7 is a new wave and initiative in the trade union movement,” he said, promising it will be “the biggest general strike in India.”
The strike, supported by the Intuc, has not been opposed by the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS).
Five crore workers are expected to participate in the 24-hour-strike which will result in losses of about Rs. 5,000 crore to industries and about Rs. 500 crore in wages for the workers.
“If the government does not heed our demands even after the strike the movement will be intensified.”
A “Parliament of Trade Unions” will be held sometime this winter as an alternative forum for the workers to address their concerns.
Mr. Dasgupta pointed out that the latest example of violation of labour laws can be witnessed in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi where minimum wages were not being paid to the migrant workers.
“The minimum wage in Delhi is Rs. 130, while the Centre's minimum wage is more than Rs. 200. Workers at the Commonwealth Games sites are paid between Rs. 80 and Rs. 90.”
Even though Biman Bose, chairman of the West Bengal Left Front Committee, at a function on Tuesday extended full support to the strike, Mr. Dasgupta insisted that the trade unions had not asked for support from any political party.
“We want a change in policy, not in the government,” he said.