Suddenly, it’s the season of strikes. The two-day general strike announced by 11 trade unions, beginning Wednesday, is on after talks between the unions and four senior ministers deputed by the Prime Minister failed late on Monday. To pile on the difficulties, Hyderabad’s auto unions (48 hours from midnight Feb 19), bank officers nationwide (Feb 20-21) and the state’s petroleum tanker operators (Feb 21) have decided to go ahead with their strikes at the same time.
A stern warning by the Union government there will be “consequences” including deduction of wages and disciplinary action if government employees participate in the strike failed to have any deterrent effect. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has written to the secretaries of all central government ministries not to sanction any kind of leave to employees during the period of the proposed strike. It also asked the departments to compile a report indicating the number of employees who take part in the proposed strike in any manner.
Earlier in the day, the PM asked his senior cabinet colleagues A K Antony, Sharad Pawar and P Chidambaram and labour minister Mallikarjun Kharge to talk the unions out of going ahead with the strike. But the talks ended in failure. The strike has been called jointly by the Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh (BMS), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) and several other unions.