Essential services may be hit as unions go on strike tomorrow

     New Delhi: Essential services like banking and public transport, as also work at public sector entities, may be hit tomorrow with ten central trade unions giving a one-day nationwide strike call to protest against the government's "indifference" to their demands for better wages and facilities and the "anti-worker" changes in labour laws.

All major unions, excluding RSS-associated BMS (Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh), have joined the strike call, terming the government's assurances to look into their demands and the recent announcements for two-year bonus and hike in minimum wage as "completely inadequate".

 On its part, the government asked all ministries to ensure that public utilities and essential services are not affected. Secretaries of all departments have been asked to take effective measures for smooth running of various services coming under their respective ministries.

Trade union leaders, however, claimed that the strike would be even bigger than the one last year on September 2 and expected the number of striking workers to swell to as much as 18 crore. Last year, the unions had said that around 14 crore workers participated in the nationwide strike at that time.

The CTUs will strike work protesting against what they call the government's apathy towards their 12-point charter of demands including a monthly minimum wage of Rs 18,000, controlling price rise and assured minimum monthly pension of Rs 3,000.

 "This time strike will be bigger than last year as over 18 crore workers from formal and informal sectors would come on streets to protest against government's indifference to their 12-points charter of demands and unilateral anti-worker labour law amendments," Trade Union Coordination Committee (TUCC) General Secretary S P Tiwari said.

He further said, "Besides ports and civil aviation, the essential services like transport, telecom and banking will be paralysed. The workers will go on strike in hospitals and power plants but the protest will not affect their normal functioning."

Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya blamed the previous UPA rule for the issues faced by the workers and said the present government "doesn't want a confrontation with labour unions" and rather needs their cooperation and support.

 He said banking and insurance sectors are likely to be impacted more due to the strike tomorrow, while adding that out of 12 demands of the trade unions, eight are related to the labour department and seven of them have been agreed to.