Trade union strike threatens to cripple economy


New Delhi : Key sectors of the economy may be crippled as a massive nation-wide trade union strike is set to start Wednesday, which will shut transport, banking services, shops and the postal system.

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Central trade unions called for two-day mega strike as their talks with the government failed to reach a conclusion.

The unions have demanded concrete measures for containing inflation, steps for employment generation, universal social security, and making the minimum wage to Rs.10,000 per month along with daily allowance.

“All these issues had been agreed upon by the labour parliament, which is a tripartite body, with government representation. But the issues have not been implemented,” Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) secretary general Baijnath Rai told IANS.

The strike has been called jointly by the BMS, Indian Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) and other such central organisations.

The government reached out to the union leaders Monday with a committee comprising Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, but the talks failed.

“The meeting was only an eyewash. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram did not come and Pawar and Antony were not aware of our problems. We don’t want assurance. We want the demands to be met,” Rai said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also appealed to the trade unions to withdraw their strike call as the shutdown would cause loss to the economy and inconvenience to general public.

The strike is expected to affect normal life as the transport sector is expected to be impacted.

“Except rail and air transport, all sectors have been called to go on strike,” Rai said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Personnel and Training has written to secretaries of all central government ministries not to sanction any leave to employees during the strike period.

The finance ministry also issued a statement urging government bank employees not to join the strike.