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Trade Unions renew pledge as May Day observed across India

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, May 1 (UNI) Trade Union leaders renewed their pledge to protect the interests and rights of the working class as May Day, the international workers' day was celebrated across the country today.

Hundreds of workers participated in rallies organised by labour unions in the capital.

Meetings were held at Jantar Mantar and at Chandni Chowk after separate rallies through the city by the Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), the Northern Railway Men's Union and others.

Speaking on the occasion, labour leaders attacked the Government's privatisation policy and the contract labour system while demanding better working conditions, minimum wages and fixed working hours for employees.

Union Labour Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao reiterated on 'International Labour Day' the government's commitment to enact an umbrella legislation for unorganised workers.

''The government is proposing to bring an umbrella legislation for unorganised sector workers, which would not only be an improvement upon the existing provisions, but would go a long way in meeting their social security needs,'' Mr Rao said in a message to Indian workers.

He said India has one of the largest work forces in the world, mainly in the unorganised sector, which has been left without much of labour protection. In order to mitigate their sufferings, the UPA government has launched new schemes like revised Integrated Housing Scheme and also recently enacted the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, he informed.

Moving towards east, former Defence Minister and Hind Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat (HMKP) president George Fernandes alleged that labour movement was in the grip of mafias.

Addresssing the workers conference of HMKP in Patna, Mr Fernandes said the mafias had not only entered into the labour movement but were also successful in having complete control over it.

In Asom several processions and small meetings took place both at Guwahati and in neighbouring towns. The central function took place at the Judge's field, where various trade unions like CITU, AITUC, UTUC(LS), LIC and bank union and Asom government employees participated.

In Tripura various programmes were undertaken by the trade unions of both the ruling Left Front and opposition Congress.

Chief Minister Manik Sarkar congratulated and greeted the people on the occassion saying the party would continue to fight against monopoly and capitalism.

Down South, protests marred the celebrations attended by Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in Andhra Pradesh. As the Chief Minister rose to distribute ''Shram Shakthi'' and Best Management Awards after delivering his address, scores of beedi and hotel industry workers raised slogans.

Dr Reddy gave them a patient hearing and asked Labour Minister G Vindo to respond. Mr Vindo said the Centre was working on a scheme for the welfare of beedi workers and also promised to speak to the hotel management to redress the grievances of employees.

In Tamil Nadu, DMK Deputy General Secretary M K Stalin said the DMK, after coming to power, would protect the interests of the working class.

At the Communist Party of India (CPI) office, State Unit Secretary D Pandian hoisted the red flag and said the DMK-led DPA, on coming to power, would get back the rights of the workers which had been ''usurped'' by the previous AIADMK regime.

Karnataka Labour Minister Iqbal Ansari announced setting up of a Construction Workers Welfare Board to protect the interests of the labour class. Meanwhile, members of the Garment and Textile workers Union formed a human chain on the occasion demanding restriction of duty to eight hours, minimum wage of Rs 150 per day, issuance of appointment letter to all workers and harrassment free environment.

In Pondicherry however, the day was observed without much fanfare due to strict enforcement of model code of conduct for the Assembly elections. Left trade union leaders hoisted flags in some areas.

The Pondicherry unit of the Janata Dal (S) also hoisted the party flag at its office and distributed sweets to mark the occasion.

UNI Team RR ND2032

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