In its attempt to deter trade union from going ahead with the proposed mass strike on Friday, the Union Government of India has accepted the advisory board recommendations and raised the minimum wage from Rs 246 to Rs 350 for non-agricultural. But trade unions have refused to call off their strike despite the government agreeing to some of their demands.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday had called an emergency meeting of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Power Minister Piyush Goyal to prepare a strategy to dissuade trade unions to go ahead with the mass strike. The possible fallout of the strike could mean shutdown of banks, factories and government offices across the country.
What is the mass strike all about?
The strike, which is organised jointly by central trade unions and independent national federations of employees, including Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers, is aimed to work towards the implementation of social security measures, which are “under attack”. These include pension for post-2004 entrants in central government services, who have had to face cuts in interest on small savings deposits.
What are the unions demanding?
The unions are demanding social security for workers and minimum wage of not less than 18,000 per month. They also want assured enhanced pension not less than 3,000 per month for all sectors, including unorganised workers. They also want FDI to be removed from railways, defence and other “strategic sectors”. Since September last year, the unions have been urging for 12 major demands, which also includes raising the minimum wage of workers. They have also expressed their disapproval at the government’s recent loosening of foreign direct investment in sector such as defence and insurance, where their primary concern is that national security might be compromised.
What has the Finance Minister announced?
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said the government has accepted the advisory board recommendations and raised the minimum wage from Rs 246 to Rs 350 per day for non-agricultural workers. He announced on Tuesday said that Central Government employees will get their two years bonus, which has been pending for some time now. The Centre has decided to write to all states regarding compliance of contract workers law, added Jaitley. While accepting the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission, the Centre doubled the minimum wage to Rs 18,000. The trade unions have been demanding much higher than the figure proposed by the government.
What is the Left saying?
A statement issued by Left had said that by “ignoring the united opposition of the working class”, the government has been trying to “demolish” the existing labour laws, thereby empowering the employers with unfettered rights to “hire and fire” and stripping workers and trade unions of all their rights and protection provided in laws. “The anti-worker and authoritarian attitude of the government is also nakedly reflected in their refusal to implement the consensus recommendations of 43rd, 44th and 45th Indian Labour Conference for formulations of minimum wages, equal wage and benefits of regular workers to the contract workers…” it added.
Left leaders maintained that the policies of the Centre, such as downsizing, outsourcing, contractorisation, corporatisation and privatization has affected the central government employees in the worst manner.
In the meantime, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote on Facebook that the CPI(M) central committee has called for a general strike on September 2 and as part of its online campaign, by clicking on a link, one can express solidarity with the cause. He had Saturday asked state government employees to ensure that Onam celebrations were not held at office premises during work hours as it was “not appropriate”.
What could be the consequences of the strike?
The possible fallout of the strike could mean shutdown of banks, factories and government offices across the country.