The judiciary has no right to declare a ban on a general strike, said senior Communist Party of India leader and All India Trade Union Congress general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta here on Thursday, adding that the Constitution has given the people the right to strike.
Mr. Dasgupta made the remarks in connection with a directive issued by the Calcutta High Court during the day where it asked the State Government to ensure normal life during the two-day general strike called by 11 major trade unions in the country on February 20-21. The Court also observed that the Supreme Court had upheld a Kerala High Court order declaring bandhs illegal in 1998.
Commenting on the development, Mr Dasgupta said the trade unions have not called a “ bandh” but a two-day all-India general strike. “To observe a strike is a fundamental right of working class and this has been guaranteed under the Constitution,” he said.
Mr Dasgupta said only the Centre can ban a strike under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).
He called upon the people to participate in the strike in large numbers.
On the issue of giving relaxation to the transport sector on February 21 on the occasion of International Mother Language Day, Mr Dasgupta said it is for trade unions to take a call on the issue. “I have nothing to say. The all-India general strike is for two days,” he said, adding that such a situation has only occurred in West Bengal and nowhere else in the country. He said the trade unions have rejected the appeal by Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge to review their decision for the general strike.
“We have rejected the request of the Union Labour Minister to withdraw the strike. Giving an assurance to consider the demands is not enough. We want a settlement of our demands,” he said.
Mr Kharge had made the appeal to the unions at a meeting with their leaders on Wednesday, Mr Dasgupta said.
Stating that the unions had announced the strike in September 2012, he said making an appeal on February 13, days before the coming strike, reflects the “insensitiveness of the Centre” on the issue. The general strike is not limited to 11 national trade unions but is called by a broad spectrum of trade unions, he said. The Chief Ministers of States liker Bihar, Odisha as well as trade unions affiliated to parties like Shiv Sena and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have supported the strike.
“The economic crisis faced by the country is growing with every passing day,” he said, referring to the latest figures on economic growth, which has touched 5 per cent.