In what could be an embarrassment for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Sangh Parivar-affiliated trade union, the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, on Monday agreed to join an all-India strike against a host of issues including the contentious land bill and foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.
Leaders from various trade unions met at the Indian National Trade Union Congress office on Monday afternoon — hours after the government announced that it would set up an inter-ministerial panel, headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley, to look into a pending 10-point charter of demands by the unions.
“The prime minister’s office has constituted an inter-ministerial group comprising minister of finance, minister of state for petroleum, minister of state for power and myself to address all issues raised by trade unions,” said Bandaru Dattatreya, labour minister, in a letter to trade unions.
The unions’ charter of demands includes abolition of contractual workforce, labour law amendments, more social safety network are the key demands of the unions.
“We agree that land is required for industries and job creation. But the government cannot scrap the Social Impact Assessment. There are other demands which have been pending for a long time. Governments come and go, but the problem of the working class remains unresolved,” said Brijesh Upadhyay, BMS leader.
If the trade unions go ahead with the strike, scheduled for September 2, it would be the first of its kind under the NDA regime.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently unveiled new insurance schemes for the unorganised sector that constitutes more than 85% of the country’s workforce, trade union leaders remain unimpressed. “The compensation will come in case of death or disability, but what is the government doing for livelihood of millions of workers?” asked All India Trade Union Congress chief Gurudas Dasgupta.
During the UPA regime, Congress-affiliated INTUC had joined hands with other unions to call strikes over government policies on many occasions.