The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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March to House against Centre

Calcutta, Feb. 16: About five lakh members of Central trade unions, federations and associations across sectors will march to Parliament on February 26 to protest the policies of the BJP-led Centre that “dangerously undermine” the working masses.

General secretary of the CPI-affiliated All India Trade Union Congress (Aituc) Gurudas Dasgupta today said though the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the BJP’s trade union wing, was not participating in the march, it was “sympathetic” towards the cause.

The unions will also organise a rally at the Brigade Parade Grounds on the same day.

“In Delhi, however, we will not go into any confrontation with police. Our processionists will sit on the roads wherever the police stop them,” Dasgupta said at a news conference in the Aituc office here.

The Centre’s policies have led to a “negative growth in jobs” with unemployment and underemployment mounting, Dasgupta said. “Altogether, 1.7 crore jobs were lost in the country over the past four years. Around six lakh industrial units are closed and 15 crore unemployed.”

The veteran trade union leader said the march to Parliament would be followed by an “intensive agitation” that will include an indefinite countrywide general strike.

“We will also go for long-term agitation in the oil, insurance, bank and coal sectors. The plan of action will be finalised in consultation with the Central trade unions,” he said.

The unions, among other things, are protesting against:

n The proposed legislation to withdraw the Industrial Disputes Act from enterprises having 300 or less workers.

n The proposed Bill to initiate disinvestment of nationalised banks.

n Slashing of dearness allowance.

n Proposal to cut down interest rates on provident funds from 9.5 per cent to 9.

n Amendment of Registration of Trade Union Act to curb formation of new unions.

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