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Trade unions to drag Bengal government to court


Kolkata : Accusing the West Bengal government of “maliciously” using Calcutta High Court’s name to declare the two-day strike as illegal, trade unions Wednesday said they will seek legal action against it.

They also claimed that the nationwide shutdown had a “tremendous impact” in the state.

“The high court has merely said that strike cannot be enforced forcibly, but the Banerjee government has been maliciously using its name to say that strike has been rendered illegal,” CITU state secretary Shyamal Chakrabarty told reporters here.

“The announcement amounts to contempt of court and we will drag to the court those responsible for making this notification as well as police officers responsible for making the announcements,” he said.

With Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declaring her government would not allow strikes and shutdowns, police have been making announcements around the state that the “high court has declared the strike as illegal” urging people not to participate.

The trade unions also claimed that the first day of the two-day strike was having a “tremendous impact” in the state despite the “coercive methods” used by the government to foil it.

“Trinamool Congress supporters with the aide of the administration resorted to violence to deter people from joining the strike but they have failed. Most of the offices, including government ones, transport and educational institutions, remained shut,” Ashok Ghosh of UTUC said.

The labour bodies also questioned Banerjee’s opposition to strike when her own party resorted to frequent shutdowns.

“Her party (Trinamool) called 21 shutdowns and strikes between 2007 and 2011, and now after coming to power, she is taking a stand against strikes saying they cause loss to the economy. Does she have the moral right to do so,” said Chakrabarty.

The trade unions also rubbished the government’s threat to cancel licences of traders and deducting salaries of government employees who joined the strike.

“Strike is a democratic right of workers universally recognised and no government has the legal right to cancel trade licences or deduct salaries. If the government does so, it will have to face legal action.

“It is most unfortunate that our chief minister is grossly ignorant about legal rights. She immediately needs to refer to the constitution,” Chakrabarty said.

The unions claimed that of the 37,000 private buses and around 5,000 mini-buses operating in the state, only a few hundred plied initially and later were withdrawn. Also, only 300 of the 33,000 taxis were on the roads, they said.

The Feb 20-21 strike has been called by 11 central trade unions to press for a 10-point charter of demands.