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TUs match strike ban with strike call

New Delhi, Sept. 26: All major central trade unions, barring the RSS-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), today decided “in principle” to strike work for a day in protest against the Supreme Court judgment stripping government employees of their right to strike.

They, however, could not finalise a date at today’s convention because of differences within their ranks.

The unions today scheduled state-level conventions and demonstrations for the next three months to build a tempo against the apex court verdict. They will observe a national protest day on the second day of Parliament’s winter session in November.

The Indian National Trade Union Congress (Intuc), backed by the main Opposition party, expressed its usual reservations about participating in a general strike even as Left trade unions — the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (Citu) and the All India Trade Union Congress (Aituc) — wanted to set a date at the convention.

“There are some differences. We have in principle taken the decision to go on strike. The date will be decided later,” said Citu general secretary M.K. Pandhe.

The BMS kept away from the convention, making it clear that it did not want to be seen as party to any protest against the Supreme Court judgment.

Leaders of the BMS said the decision came after Citu issued a unilateral statement saying both BMS and Intuc would participate in a day-long strike.

The BMS contended that Citu could not take a decision on its behalf. It, however, had participated in a meeting organised by trade unions on August 16.

Intuc said it is not against a strike but would not like to serve a strike notice in a hurry. Its leaders made it clear that they would agree to finalise a date only after all options had been exhausted.

“We want the government to bring a bill that would negate the Supreme Court judgment against striking workers,” said Intuc general secretary Chandidas Sinha.

Intuc president Sanjeeva Reddy has spoken to Union labour minister Sahib Singh Verma asking him to seek an appointment with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on behalf of trade unions.

“We may have an opportunity to talk to him on the issue on October 16 when the Indian Labour Conference takes place,” Sinha said.

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