In what could be a worrying sign for the Congress, its trade union arm INTUC on Thursday joined the Left-backed labour outfits CITU and AITUC for the first time in calling a nationwide strike in September on the issue of price rise and to protest the economic and “anti-worker” policies of the UPA government.
Interestingly, the BJP’s trade union outfit, BMS, would not join the strike on September 7. Its representatives also did not attend a convention called by all the central trade unions here to finalise the protest action. The strike by trade unions cutting across party lines comes after the bandh called by a united Opposition on the issue of price rise earlier this month.
AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said the one-day strike was primarily against price rise, retrenchment of workers and many of the economic policies of the government. “For the first time in the history of India, all the central trade unions including INTUC are together,” he said.
Significantly, INTUC president and Congress MP G Sanjeeva Reddy said the trade union movement was suffering due to “non-action” on the part of the government. He consciously avoided mention of price rise or the UPA government’s economic policies, including disinvestment of profit-making PSUs, and focused on laxity in implementing labour laws.
“The basic labour laws are not being properly implemented. Poor workers are suffering because of extra working hours and contract labour. Some of the state governments are not even registering the trade unions. Victimisation of workers, closure of industries is there. Unemployment is increasing day by day,” Reddy claimed.
The call for the strike has been given by INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF. “If the government does not concede to the demands, the trade unions will intensify the struggle further and stage a march to Parliament,” Dasgupta added.