The CPM-backed trade union,CITU,which till Saturday remained firm on going ahead with the proposed July 31 transport strike,today withdrew its 24-hour statewide bandh call. This a day after all major transport operators decided to stay away from the proposed strike amid Chief Minister Mamata Banerjees stern warning that her government will take tough action against the striking transport owners. The CITU and other transport operators had called the strike last week demanding fare hike in the wake of rising fuel prices.
Shyamal Chakraborty,state president of CITU,while announcing the trade unions decision said Left Front chairman Biman Bose had urged them to withdraw the strike. We are withdrawing the strike after Left Front chairman urged us not to strike on July 31. He said the CPM has decided to undertake a massive agitation from August 1 to August 3 against rising fuel prices,which made them reconsider their decision.
Stating that CITUs U-turn had nothing to do with the chief ministers warning,Chakraborty said: We are not bowing to any pressure. You may think so,but we dont. The chief minister only prefers to do drama,and criticizes us. She has failed to undertake any concrete action against the Centre.
He added that the trade union will launch a dharna in Delhi against the steep hike in prices of petrol and diesel.
It may be recalled that just after the CITU and other transport operators decided to go on a strike,the chief minister had threatened to cancel the route permits of the striking buses. She had also threatened to stop giving Rs 600 crore subsidy to public transport corporations if they take part in the strike and would do whatever it took to foil the bandh.
Even among the Left Front partners there were reservations about CITUs decision to call the strike. With many terming CITUs decision as unilateral. Sharp differences had cropped up among the Left trade unions with CPIs labour arm AITUC and RSPs UTUC not supporting CITUs decision. Ranjit Guha,state secretary of AITUC,said,We do not support the strike as the decision was announced by the CITU without discussing with us. However,we will not oppose the strike too.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose too had earlier expressed his disapproval,saying the CITU did not consult the party.
On Saturday,Joint Council of Bus Syndicates and Bengal Bus Syndicate two major transport operators in the state and the taxi unions,including Calcutta Taxi Association and Progressive Mens taxi Association,deferred the proposed statewide strike after state Transport Minister Madan Mitra met their representatives.
Reacting on the CITUs decision,Mitra said: I think that after the chief ministers stern action the CITU decided to withdraw the strike.
If CITU threatened for an agitation then Trinamool-backed trade unions will also decide what they will do to stop harassment of the commuters,he added.