Seek Manmohan’s intervention

If the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh does not personally intervene to give a commitment on the 10 demands raised by 11 major central trade unions, including the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), the February 20-21 nationwide strike is unlikely to be called off.

“There is no question of dropping the strike without having our demands settled,” AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta, MP, told The Hindu on Thursday. “We are not going to knock on the doors of the Prime Minister or anybody else.”

Leaders of the 11 unions, including Mr. Dasgupta, had met Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and Union Minister of State for Labour Kodikunnil Suresh on Wednesday. “At the meeting, we requested the leaders to call off the strike plan as it would immensely damage the economy and cause inconvenience to the people,” Mr. Suresh told The Hindu . “They said they wouldn’t.”

Mr. Suresh said the union leaders had focussed on three major issues: checking of price rise, generation of employment, and halting of disinvestment in public sector enterprises, over which the Labour Ministry could do very little as it was up to the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister to decide. Mr. Suresh said the Prime Minister had been briefed on the outcome of the talks. There was no more meeting scheduled with the unions.

He said some of the other demands raised by the unions were of long term in nature and could not be settled overnight. The two Ministers had explained this to the trade union leaders.

Mr. Dasgupta said the unions had served notice of the strike several months ago and the government had ample time to open a discussion with them. The Prime Minister had not bothered to talk to the unions. “We rejected the Labour Minister’s request to call off the strike,” he said. “We cannot withdraw it now and the entire trade union movement in the country is going ahead with the general strike.”

Mr. Dasgupta hinted that only a firm commitment by the Prime Minister on some of the major demands could avert the general strike.

The demands raised by the unions include strict enforcement of labour laws, a minimum wage of Rs.10,000 a month, abolition of contract labour, and social security for all workers.

  • Trade union leaders meet Labour Minister

  • Prime Minister briefed on outcome of talks: Minister