Under siege,minister clarifies on ‘right to strike’

Purnendu Bose,who triggered a controversy saying the state government was planning to take away the “full trade union rights” of the government employees.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: February 2, 2012 4:34 am

State Labour Minister Purnendu Bose,who triggered a controversy on Wednesday saying the state government was planning to take away the “full trade union rights” of the government employees on Wednesday sought to clarify saying “the government employees are not workers and that the full trade union rights are given to workers only. So how does the question of snatching away the trade union rights of the employees come?” the minister asked.

He further said: “The full trade union rights,given to employees by the Left Front government,exist only on paper. So what is the use of having such a clause in the West Bengal Service Conduct Rules. The rights of the employees would not be curtailed by the present government,which is sympathetic to its employees,” he remarked. He did a U-turn saying that his statement was ‘twisted’ by a section of the media and the present government “has no intention to curb the rights” of the employees.

His clarification came shortly after eight organisations of the state government,including employees of the Congress affiliated confederation of state government employees held a “rally” few yards away from Bose’s chamber protesting against what they call “the minister’s bid to curtail their hard earned rights”.

Trinamool controlled employees unions,however,stayed away from the programme,but he is believed to have extended “moral support” to the agitators.

“We just want to withdraw the amendments made by the Left Front,under which full trade union rights were given to the employees,whose associations are spearheading movement without understanding what I meant to say. The Left Front government has actually deceived the employees. Trade union rights can never be given to the state government employees as they are not workers and their organisations are not registered under the Trade Union Act 1926,” Bose said.

Employees associations,however,have refused to buy Bose’s arguments. “It is unfortunate that the government of the Ma-Mati-Manush is out to snatch away the rights of the employees. After a prolonged movement,the Left Front government had been forced to give us the right to call strike,but with some riders. Instead of giving us unconditional rights to call for strike and organise rallies,the present government is trying to gag our voice. We cannot tolerate this. The movement will intensify against such a move,” Malay Mukherjee,the senior leader of Congress controlled Confederation of State Government Employees said.

Leaders of “pro-Trinamool” – Federation of Secretariat Employees – which is affiliated to State Government Employees Federation (UNIFIED),has however refused to join the demonstration. “It is still not clear what did Bose said on Tuesday. The Chief Minister is meeting the employees’ associations quarterly and considering their demands sympathetically. We have seen that some of the demands have been accepted. If the Chief Minister continues to give us a patient hearing why should there be a need to hold rally?” asked the association’s general secretary Sanjib Paul. But another member of the same organisation said requesting anonymity that employees would “ erupt in protest” if the state government starts “curtailing their rights”.

Meanwhile,the General Secratary of CPI-M controlled’State Coordination Committee,Ananto Banerjee said: “We had anticipated such a move. Our beloved leader Jyoti Basu had repeatedly told us during a series of meetings that the rights have acquired through movement shall have to be protected. During Congress regime,our organization’s recognition was withdrawn,but we continued movement. This time the same will be repeated.”

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