Despite a softening of stand by the government, 10 of the 11 Central trade unions on Friday decided to go ahead with a country wide strike on September 2.
However, cracks have begun to emerge over the joint front presented by the trade unions. RSS-affiliated BharatiyaMazdoorSangh is understood to have called for deferring the strike in order to let the government deliver on its promises.
“We have appealed to the other trade unions that since the government has taken so many positive initiatives, we must give them some time to deliver as many of these measures such as amendments to minimum wages require Parliamentary approval,” said VrijeshUpadhyay, general secretary, BMS, adding that the union will now hold internal meetings on Saturday to discuss whether it should participate in the strike.
“Trade unions will go ahead with September 2 strike,” said INTUC president G Sanjeeva Reddy after a three-hour long meeting of union leaders.
Upadhyay however, said that most of the other trade unions are affiliated to political parties and so have their own reasons to go ahead with the strike.
“BMS has opted out of the strike and has requested all the 10 trade unions to reconsider their stand as they want the government to try and work on their promises. But all the other trade unions have decided to go ahead with the strike,” said AK Padmanabhan, president, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
The one-day strike was jointly called by 11 central trade unions including CITU, BMS, INTUC, AITUC, Hind MazdoorSabha, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF along with their affiliates.
The All-India Bank Employees’ Association as well as coal unions are also set to join the strike against the “anti-worker” policies of the NDA government.
The decision was taken after two consecutive days of parleys with a ministerial panel led by finance minister ArunJaitley, which had also assured them that at least seven out of their 12 concerns would be addressed by the government.
But apart from BMS, the remaining Central trade unions had not taken the assurances seriously and had indicated that they would go ahead with the strike.
The government had circulated a note in Thursday’s meeting with trade unions explaining that it is already working on seven of the demands put ahead by trade unions, including amendments to Minimum Wages Act, Contract Labour Act and providing universal social security.
It had also assured trade unions that the Rs 1,000 minimum monthly pension would be continued and demands for a dearness allowance (DA) would be looked into and no changes would be made to the Trade Unions Act, 1926.
Trade unions had presented a 12-point charter of demands to the government seeking withdrawal of labour law amendments and the land acquisition amendment ordinance, stopping privatisation and foreign investment in railways, insurance and defence, banning speculative trade in commodities, Universalisation of Public Distribution System as well as policies to address price hike and improve employment opportunities.