DSS Media Watch

Trade unions on strike today, essential services may be hit

Though post this meeting the government appealed to unions to not go ahead with the strike only Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, an RSS affiliate, acquiesced, earning the ire of other unions and rights groups.workers

Bank workers take out a torch rally in Bhopal on Tuesday in support of the strike to
protest aganist the proposed labour reforms PTI

The country will wake up to a generalstrike by workers in all informal sectors on Wednesday, due to the collapse of the talks between the central government andtrade unions representing this workforce. A call for the nation-wide strike was given despite the Inter-Ministerial Committee meeting on August 27 between Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, minister of state for labour and employment Bandaru Dattatreya, minister of state for power Piyush Goyal, among others to discuss further the charter of 12 demands given to them by central trade unions.

Though post this meeting the government appealed to unions to not go ahead with the strike only Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, an RSS affiliate, acquiesced, earning the ire of other unions and rights groups.

The unions and rights groups have slammed the government for not committing itself to minimum wage and social security for informal sector workers, which according to NSSO data as 92 per cent of India’s working class. Of this only 11 per cent are regular waged/ salaried workers and 89 per cent are self employed or casual workers.

The demands made by the groups for these workers include ensuring minimum Rs 15,000 as monthly floor wage and make it statutorily binding, need for health care, inclusion under the Awas Yojana, rehabilitation of bonded labourers, regulation of working hours for domestic workers, food security, unemployment allowance, at least Rs 3,000 monthly pension for the entire workforce, among many others. They also opposed the 2015 labour reforms including amendments to the Factories Act that removes a large number of workers from its protection, the proposed Small Factories Bill that will remove the right to strike and form unions for workers in small factories, and the dilution of labour rights under the proposed Industrial Relations Code which would replace all other rules governing large establishments.

The central government through the inter-ministerial committee meet has tried giving many assurances to unions, such as “appropriate legislation for making formula based minimum wages mandatory “, coverage of social security to construction workers, ASHA workers etc, tripartite consultations on labour reforms in the centre and the state, etc. However, the Central Trade Unions have point by point rejected and refuted these assurances calling them government propaganda.

They have demanded minimum wage for all as per 44th ILC decision, not less than Rs15,000 per month, Same wages and other benefits to contract workers as regular workers for same and similar work, and scrapping the recently passed amendments to labour laws in states such as Rajasthan.

Addressing the press on the eve of the strike on Tuesday, rights group, under the umbrella of the Working People’s Charter, criticised the government for having diluted the process of consultation among workers and master and the bureaucracy in the Indian Labour Conference. They called the strike ‘historic”, as it was the first time unorganised workers have come together to voice their demands.

Meanwhile, the BMS has defended itself saying that its last minute withdrawal from the strike was “because we want to give government some time”. Virjesh Upadhyay, BMS general secretary, said, “On four-five issues, including minimum wages, social security expansion, bonus and EPF, the government is taking historic decisions.” It refuted that the reason was its affiliation to the ruling BJP.


Categories: DSS Media Watch, News

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