NEW DELHI: The nationwide 24-hour general strike called by the central trade unions on Wednesday is likely to impact essential services, including banking, transport and supply of power, gas and oil even as the government appealed to them to call off the agitation.
While the RSS-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and the National Front of Indian Trade Unions (NFITU) announced their decision to pull out, 10 unions, which have a presence both in the public and private sector, with a combined membership of `15 crore workers announced their intention to go ahead with the strike.
Appealing to the trade unions to reconsider the call for strike, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said the government was working positively on nine of the 12 demands made by the trade unions. “I don’t think essential services will be affected by the strike. I feel that the impact will not be much. I appeal to them to call off strike in the interest of the workers and the nation,” Dattatreya told reporters here.
The union leaders, however, said the strike would affect the functioning of essential services such as banking, transport and supply of power, gas and oil. Countering this claim, the BMS said that power, oil and gas supplies would not be affected as a large number of public sector workers in these areas would not participate in the industrial action.
AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said that the government’s silence on various labour issues has forced the trade unions to go on strike. As many as 12 central trade unions had given this strike call over a 12-point charter of demands, including withdrawal of the proposed changes in the labour laws and stopping the disinvestment and privatisation of PSUs. A ministerial group was constituted to strike a compromise with the TUs, but the talks had failed.
The Centre has initiated a process where existing 44 Central labour laws are to be simplified and rationalised and amalgamated into four labour codes on wages, industrial relations, social security and welfare and safety and working environment.
‘OPEN TO TALKS’
The Centre indicated that the talks with the trade unions will continue even if they went ahead with the general strike.“We don’t want any confrontation with the trade unions. The workers’ rights and interests are supreme to us,” said Dattatreya.