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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Trade unions, farmers to stage anti-WTO protests

Indo-Asian News Service, PTI  New Delhi, September 06, 2003
First Published: 16:18 IST(28/8/2003) | Last Updated: 13:36 IST(6/9/2003)

Intensive security at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meet in Cancun might prevent any demonstrations there but trade unions and farmers in India are getting set to hold countrywide protests on September 9 and 10.

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The Sponsoring Committee of Trade Unions, an umbrella organisation of 11 national trade unions barring the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party affiliated ones, has announced protest demonstrations to coincide with the meeting in Mexico's resort town.

They hope to "pressurise the Government not to surrender to the demands of the developed nations".

Despite discussions with Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley ahead of the WTO meet, the trade unions fear that the Government would succumb to the pressure of the developed nations and lower import duty on all agriculture and non-agriculture products.

"We do not trust the public posturing of the Government. Before the Doha ministerial meeting, the Government had promised not to let any new proposals on board the WTO negotiations till the implementation issues were addressed.

"But ultimately they surrendered to the pressure tactics," said Tapan Sen of the Sponsoring Committee.

Sen is also secretary of the leftist Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU).

The national trade unions are planning to focus on India's concerns to keep investment issues out of negotiations through sit down demonstrations and marches.

They also want developed nations to agree to reduction in agriculture subsidies, implementation issues and ensure access to medicines for developing nations.

"Developing nations, specially India, are going to lose their sovereignty in management of their economy if the draft resolutions are passed at Cancun. Among others, three major issues are going to be dealt in the Cancun meet namely agriculture, investment and access to medicines," the trade union group said in a statement.

The group stated that if the "draft on multilateral agreement on investment is passed then multinational corporations will themselves decide where to invest, how to invest and when to invest without any care for local conditions, employment situation or national priority."

Saying that the Union Government's posture is an "attempt to hoodwink the people", the group has called on all trade unions to support their protest call.

The demonstrations in India will find echo in other parts of the globe on September 9 "when all international trade unions and a large number of national trade unions all over the world are organising massive demonstrations in all important cities to project their national interests", said Sen.

Ahead of the WTO meet, India has joined with 16 other developing nations to present their joint concerns.

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