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Unions bicker on strike call

New Delhi, Oct. 7: The squabble among trade unions is getting nastier.

The Indian National Trade Union Congress (Intuc) and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) remain as adamant as ever on not finalising a date for an all-India strike to protest against the August 6 Supreme Court ruling stripping government employees of their right to strike.

“We are not an irresponsible organisation to rush into a strike,” says Intuc leader Chandidas Sinha.

BMS general secretary Hansubhai Dave adds: “We have decided not to go on strike. You cannot respond to the Supreme Court judgment against strikes with another strike call.”

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (Citu) has not managed to persuade either union to have a rethink. The BMS is openly attacking Citu for taking “unilateral decisions”.

“Communists have a typical way of functioning. They first go to the media and announce decisions without consulting other trade unions. Next they try to involve them,” says Dave. The BMS is angry that Citu told the media it would participate in the strike without having consulted it first.

But employees’ organisations have stepped up pressure on central trade unions to finalise a strike date. The Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers and the All India Government Federation issued a joint statement last week urging unions to hold the strike in the first half of January.

“Once the budget session (of Parliament) begins, the whole attention will be on the budget. It will not be of much use to have an all-India strike then,” a trade union leader said. But Sinha is not impressed. “We cannot jump into a strike because the federations want it. As a responsible trade union we have to consider all the aspects of making such a move,” he said.

Sinha said workers are no longer keen to launch into a protest. “The moment you give a strike call they apply for leave so that they do not have to forego a day’s salary,” the Intuc leader said.

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