Government transport in Haryana, Karnataka and Telangana, industrial areas in the National Capital region, hotels in Himachal Pradesh and banks and insurance offices across India may not function on Friday as central trade unions will hit the streets for a general strike.
Last year, the trade union’s strike saw an estimated 15 crore workers take the day off. “This year we expect the figures to be higher,” said Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) general secretary, Tapan Sen.
“The central trade unions reiterate the call for countrywide general strike on September 2 against the anti-worker and anti-people policies of the government,” said a joint statement by the unions on Thursday.
“In view of the utterly unresponsive and undemocratic attitude of the government, the CTUs view the announcements made by the Committee of Ministers as an eyewash and have decided to go ahead with the strike. Meagre raise in minimum wage to Rs 9,100 per month in central sphere is not binding on the states,” it said.
With support pouring in from trade unions across the country, essential services like banking and public transport are expected to be hit.
The trade unions are confident that in the National Capital region, the public sector banks and insurance companies will be paralysed. “The officers’ unions of banks have pledged their support,” said Sen.
A look at the states and services that will be hit the most by the strike:
--While petrol pumps will remain open, the government’s bus services in Harayna and Punjab will be crippled, claims trade union leaders. They are also confident that public bus in Karnataka and Telangana will also come to a standstill affecting millions of commuters in cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
-- While the trade unions will get a free run in communist-ruled Kerala, it is likely to face stiff resistance in West Bengal where chief minister Mamata Banerjee has vowed to stall the strike and celebrate ‘Singur Diwas’ to honour Wednesday’s Supreme Court verdict that said the erstwhile Left Front government illegally acquired around 998 acres from farmers at Singur for Tata Motors.
-- The CTUs will strike work protesting against what they call the government’s apathy towards their 12-point charter of demands including a monthly minimum wage of Rs 18,000, controlling price rise and assured minimum monthly pension of Rs 3,000.
-- Trade union leaders are expecting all coal mines and Maruti, Honda and other factories to be closed on Friday. “The transport in Delhi will not be affected, but industrial areas in Mayapuri, Seemapuri and Patparganj will be closed.”
--All India Trade Union Congress (A ITUC) secretary Amarjeet Kaur told PTI, “There will be chakka jam in 11 states like Andhra Pradesh, Telengana Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.”
--Workers in central public sector undertakings like Coal India, GAIL, ONGC, NTPC, OIL, HAL and BHEL will also observe strike , according to Trade Union Coordination Committee (TUCC) General Secretary S P Tiwari.
‘Ensure public utilities, essential services are not affected’
Meanwhile, the government has asked all ministries to ensure that public utilities and essential services are not affected. Secretaries of all departments have been asked to take effective measures for smooth running of various services coming under their respective ministries.
The Centre announced a slew of pro-worker measures on Tuesday to outmanoeuvre the trade union’s strike. The government hiked the minimum wages for unskilled workers by Rs 100 while announcing two years’ bonus for central government employees. The unions, however, brushed aside the sops as a “mere eyewash” and decided to go ahead with their 24-hour strike.
Coal India Limited (CIL) also constituted the 10th Joint Bipartite Committee for the Coal Industry to look into pay revision of over three lakh non-executive employees working in its eight subsidiaries.
The Indian Railways and other central government employees will not participate in strike as the Centre has already constituted a committee to look into their demand of raising monthly minimum wage from Rs 18,000 to about Rs 26,000 under the 7th Pay Commission.
The RSS-affiliate Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has also decided not to participate in strike. Last year also on September 2, the union has opted out of the strike at the last moment.
Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya blamed the previous UPA rule for the issues faced by the workers and said the present government “doesn’t want a confrontation with labour unions” and rather needs their cooperation and support.
(With agency inputs)