Bharat Bandh on Sept. 2: Unions refuse to call off strike

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1. Central trade unions have given a Bharat Bandh protest call on September 2 in support of their 12-point charter of demands that include a minimum wage of Rs. 18,000 per month in the unorganised sector, a stop to what the unions call "mass-scale privatisation of permanent and perennial works" and the "onslaught on basic rights of the workers through the so-called labour law reforms" and compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of submitting application and immediate rectification of International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions C-87 and C-98.

Bharat Bandh on Sept. 2: Unions refuse to call off strike

2. Union Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya had on Friday urged the central trade unions (CTUs) to reconsider their decision to go on strike. The trade unions rejected the request on Saturday saying the government had failed to address their demands.

[Also Read: Bharat Bandh on Sept 2: What will be closed; what will be open?

3. Replying to Dattatreya's letter, All India Trade Unions Congress (AITUC) and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said the status report on the demands is "almost the same as that you circulated exactly one year ago, in the joint meeting with the CTUs held on August 26-27, on the eve of the general strike in 2015".

4. Power and Coal minister Piyush Goyal and Dattatreya on Saturday held meetings with senior labour ministry officials over the proposed countrywide strike. Goyal and Dattatreya are part of the five-member ministers' panel on labour issues, which is chaired by Finance minister Arun Jaitley, to talk to the CTUs over the 12-point charter of demands.

Read more: Bharat Bandh: Friday Strike on as Left Unions reject Jaitley's wage hike

5. The panel had recently held two rounds of discussions with RSS-affiliate Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), which has been criticised by other unions for holding such "exclusive discussions".

6. Last year, too, when the unions had called for a strike on September 2, the BMS had opted out of it after the government had given assurances to consider nine of the 12 demands. This year, too, the BMS is holding back on its decision to join the strike, anticipating a positive response from the government.

7. The ministerial panel last met all the unions on 26-27 August 2015. The unions had requested Dattatreya in July this year to hold a meeting with them again to consider the demands, but no such meeting was convened.

8. CITU general secretary Tapan Sen has told PTI that there is no question of withdrawing the strike call. Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) vice president Ashok Singh, too, said that the decision to go ahead with strike stands. The AITUC has said, "AITUC along with other CTUs finds it difficult to accept your (government's) request for reconsideration of call of protest strike on September 2, 2016. The decision to go on strike stands."

9. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has opposed the strike call and has warned of strict action against those indulging in arson and violence.

10. "We will not allow any bandh in the state on September 2. We will keep everything open. Vehicles will ply and shops will open. If vehicles and shops are damaged (by bandh supporters), we will take strong action. We will also give compensation... If they want, they can go to Delhi and stage dharna to register their protest," Mamata has said.

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