Over 70 million labour force to strike on Aug 20 against price rise

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New Delhi May 13 (UNI) Rail, air, banking, insurance and other essential services would be affected throughout the country on August 20 as more than 70 million workforce, including the farm labour, go on a day-long general strike against the government's ''total failure'' to curb soaring inflation, universalisation of Public Distribution System (PDS) and check the back-door entry of corporate houses in retail.

''The sooner the government goes, the better it is because the Manmohan Singh government is not only anti-worker but also anti- people,'' AITUC General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said at the conclusion of the National Convention of Trade Unions.

Mr Dasgupta, who is also the CPI floor leader in the Lok Sabha, said they had been forced to take this industrial action after the government refused to listen to their 10-point Charter of Demands raised in and outside Parliament.

The Convention, attended by more than 250 delegates from across the country, was convened by seven Left central trade unions - AITUC, CITU, HMS, AICCTU, AIUTUC, UTUC and TUCC.

CITU President M K Pandhe said the strike would be throughout the country. However, emergency services such as hospitals and fire brigades have been excluded from the strike which has been organised to protest against the negative features of the Sixth Pay Commission, growing tendency of contractorisation and outsourcing and casualisaiton at work places, he added.

''Basic laws in respect of minimum wages, working hours, social security benefits are being desperately violated by the employers with active indulgence and patronage of the administration.'' Mr Pandhe, a CPI(M) politbureau member, said the provisions of the Unorganised Sector Workers Social Sector Bill, 2007, placed in Parliament was totally inadequate to ensure a minimum social security cover.

AITUC national secretary D L Sachdev said the scope of the general strike would be ''much wider'' this time in comparison with the previous agitation on December 14, 2006 as central and state government employees and farm labourers, totalling nearly 20 million, would join it.

Before that, the workers would organise joint conventions at state and district levels besides the industrial centres. These would be completed by July 15 while the massive demonstrations and sit-ins in all states and industrial centres need to be over by July 30, RSP leader and Rajya Sabha member Abany Roy and HMS secretary R A Mittal said.

According to AITUC secretary Amarjeet Kaur, the other demands were ban on futures and forward trading in all essential commodities, reduction of tax on petrol and diesel, stringent action against hoarding and black marketing and lifting of ban on government services, removing negative features of the Sixth Pay Commission.

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