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CITU strike paralyses life in Bengal, Kerala

Union presses for improved wages, better service conditions and social security measures for workers of unorganised sector

An all-India strike in the unorganised sector called by the CPI(M)’s trade union arm CITU hit normal life in various parts of the country on Wednesday. The dawn-to-dusk protest was enforced to press for a 15-point charter of demands, which includes better wages and service conditions and social security measures for workers in the unorganised sector like construction, farming and motor transport.

In West Bengal, life was partially affected. Taxis and auto-rickshaws were off roads, while a majority of shops and markets also remained closed. Construction works came to a halt throughout the state.

Buses and mini-buses were, however, exempted from the purview of the strike. Passengers at the airport and Howrah and Sealdah railway stations had to face inconvenience due to absence of taxies.

Work at the upcoming small car unit of Tata Motors in Singur remained normal. Sources in the Tata Motors said 1,100 day labourers were recruited as in other days in the morning hours and work went on normally in the paint, welding and engine shops and the vendor park. Ranjit Mondol, chairman of Singur Panchayat Samity, said it was first decided that the daily workers would not join work at the project site in keeping with the strike call but later the decision was changed.

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A procession of farm labourers was taken out by the anti-acquisition Krishi Jomi Rakha Committee protesting against the alleged shrinking in the scope of their work following the erection of boundary walls of the small car project.

In Kerala, reports from across the state said private buses, taxis, and trucks in most places were keeping off the roads, severely hampering people’s mobility.

Shops were also closed in urban areas in most districts. CITU leaders said the legislation proposed to be brought in by the UPA Government did not guarantee labour and social security of millions of workers in the unorganised sector.

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In Tamil Nadu, about 3,500 unorganised workers, attached to the CITU, were taken into custody in Madurai when they blocked road traffic, demanding job security and social security, including pension.

Madurai CPM MP P Mohan told reporters that 13 crore unorganised workers were not even being paid a good salary, whereas the Government thought it fit to give ‘pension’ to five police department dogs at the rate of Rs 4,000 a month. He also criticised the state Government for not providing house site pattas.

Reports from Tripura’s capital Agartala said vehicles kept off roads and shops remained closed. The attendance in Government offices and banks also remained thin.

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In Sonepat, Haryana, CITU workers observed one day’s token strike over the alleged failure of the UPA Government in addressing the concerns of the unorganised sector by bringing a legislation in the Lok Sabha. “Though it was agreed in the UPA common minimum programme that the Central Government would form a policy for the unorganised labour sector by bringing legislation in Parliament, it has failed to do so,” said CITU leader Anand Sharma.

(With inputs from Madurai, Sonepat, Agartala)

First published on: 09-08-2007 at 01:34:19 am
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