Central trade union leaders on Wednesday refused to withdraw their nationwide strike call for September 2 to protest against proposed labour reforms, after their meeting with a group of ministers (GoM) failed to make any headway.
The GoM, headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley, will meet the union leaders again on Thursday to break the logjam and deliberate on their demands, senior labour ministry officials told HT.
The 12-point charter of demands include urgent measures for containing price rise through universalisation of the public distribution system (PDS), ban on speculative trade in the commodity market, strict enforcement of basic labour laws without any exemption or exception, and stringent punitive measures for violation of labour laws, among others.
“There are 7-8 demands, which are agreeable and the discussion is an ongoing process….the government is positive about the demands (of labour unions). The meeting will continue tomorrow,” labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya said after the two-hour long meeting.
Trade unions, however, refused to budge. “We have refused to withdraw our September 2 nationwide strike. The government has called us again tomorrow for another round of meeting,” Gurudas Dasgupta, general secretary, All India Trade Union Congress, told HT.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the government defended its position and said that labour reforms are needed for the country, sources said. Union leaders, however, said the government did not offer any concrete assurance on their charter of demands.
“The call for the strike stands as of now because there is no concrete assurance from the government in today’s meeting,” said AK Padmanabhan, president, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, who attended the meeting.
“We agreed to come tomorrow for the meeting because we don’t want to leave the table, otherwise they will blame us for not discussing the issues. There is no agreement on any issue so far,” he added.