Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and the CPI(M)'s trade union wing CITU are locked in a serious argument over whether the Information Technology sector should be part of the December 14 nationwide strike.
While the CITU announced on Tuesday that the IT and IT enabled services (ITES) would not be exempt from the strike, the chief minister asserted that the sector will not take the hit.
CITU's announcement comes after over a month-long debate in the CPI(M) on the issue.
While the chief minister and veteran CPI(M) leader Jyoti Basu publicly spoke against strikes in the IT sector, politburo members and top CITU leaders MK Pandhe and Chittabrata Majumdar have doggedly opposed the idea.
"We have not kept IT out of the purview of the strike. We appeal to the employees of the sector to participate," CITU state president Shyamal Chakraborty said.
When asked to comment on Basu's remarks that IT and ITES should be treated as essential services, Chakraborty said, "It is not an essential service. In our state it is only a Public Utility Service."
But the Chief Minister insisted that there would be no strike in the IT sector. "As far as I know, no one in the IT sector will join or observe the strike. No one from outside, or any outsider will be allowed to do any picketing in front of IT offices. No one will be allowed to prevent anyone from joining work. Such things will not be tolerated by the government."
Bhattacharjee also stated that he had had discussions with IT sector representatives on the December 14 strike. All arrangements for transport will be made," he said.
Following CITU's attack on vehicles carrying IT employees during a strike on September 29 last year, the chief minister had assured IT chiefs in the state that he would convince his party's trade union wing to exempt the sector from strikes as he feared this might affect overseas business of IT companies.