Even as union leaders are contemplating options to challenge the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA), 2011, consumer groups and citizen activists are gearing up to oppose their petition and support the Act.
According to activists, citizens and consumers are entitled to uninterrupted, essential services. “Just because some people work in essential-service sectors, does not mean that they can bring public life to a standstill and arm-twist the government to get their demands approved,” said Shirish Deshpande, chairperson, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat. Sunil Mone, member, Santacruz (West) residents association said, “Certain democratic rights, such as right to protest, should be controlled for larger public good.”
However, union leaders from sectors such as services, manufacturing and transport are planning to collectively fight a legal battle against the recently amended MESMA. “We condemn the anti-worker stand taken by the state government and will be seeking a legal way to oppose the Act. Presently, we are studying the Act and exploring the different options to fight it in the court of law,” said Bal Malkit Singh, president, All India Motor Transport Congress, which is the apex body of truck and bus operators and transporters.
Sharad Rao, president, Hind Mazdoor Sabha and other workers’ union said, “I will seek the support of unions in other states and the Centre to protest this Act. We are also seeking legal opinion to oppose the Act that takes away our right to protest.”