With 48 hours left to the nationwide trade union strike against the UPA governments policies and price rise the first such united action by outfits belonging to almost all political hues the government is making efforts to persuade the union leaders to call off the shutdown.
Attempts are on involving Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and senior ministry officials,though trade union leaders have said they cannot cancel on the basis of such efforts. They are ready to hold discussions if the Prime Minister invites them for talks.
Manmohan Singh has spoken to G Sanjeeva Reddy,the chief of INTUC,that is the trade union arm of the Congress. Reddy is believed to have also asked the PM to call all the leaders together.
Eleven unions,including INTUC,Lefts CITU and AITUC,HMS and Sangh Parivar-affiliated BMS have given a joint call for the strike. The DMKs LPF,Shiv Sena and a host of other unions have come out in support.
Leaders are going out of their way to ensure that differences dont affect larger trade union unity. Firebrand CPI MP and AITUC leader Gurudas Dasgupta has been shouting Vande Mataram,Bharat Mata ki Jai and Inquilab Zindabad in the same breath,while he walked the extra mile to rope in the Shiv Sena through Uddhav Thackeray.
INTUC President Reddy,for his part,sat shoulder to shoulder with CITU,AITUC and BMS leaders.
Behind this unity front is the realisation that the very existence of trade unions is at stake. Increasing contractorisation of work and curbs on unionisation are making them irrelevant. The government has lately not kept them in the loop on key decisions.