The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi kid gloves on TN sack

New Delhi, July 25: Union labour minister Sahib Singh Verma today refused to allow the standing labour committee to adopt a resolution condemning the sacking of more than 300,000 employees by the Tamil Nadu government.

As soon as the committee gathered for today’s meeting, All India Trade Union Congress leader Gurudas Dasgupta brought up the dismissals. He read out a statement that all trade unions, barring the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, wanted to be adopted as a resolution.

BMS general secretary Hansubhai Dave countered: “The matter was not listed on the agenda.”

Dasgupta later said: “I had an encounter with Sahib Singh Verma. He said the matter does not figure on the meeting’s agenda.”

The statement drafted by the Left unions said: “The meeting of the standing labour committee expresses deep concern at the recent developments in Tamil Nadu leading to the dismissal of more than 3 lakhs of government employees and school teachers. We disapprove of the action of the Tamil Nadu government.”

The statement urged the state government to “take back all the dismissed employees without asking for an undertaking” to “withdraw all court cases and initiate meaning- ful talks with the trade unions for a negotiated settlement”.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment yesterday, had asked the Jayalalithaa government to reinstate the employees on the basis of an undertaking that they would not strike work in future.

The labour minister expressed concern at the sacking of so many employees, but refused to condemn the action.

Dasgupta told Verma that he could have intervened in favour of the employees. The labour minister replied that he could have helped the employees had they approached him.

The sacked employees had knocked on the doors of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for help. But the Centre did not respond, Dasgupta claimed. Verma said, had the employees contacted him, he would have urged the Tamil Nadu labour minister to take them back.

After the Left leaders set the tenor of the meeting, all other unions spoke on the Tamil Nadu government’s action. But the Left trade unions, along with the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, were unhappy with the minister’s tepid response.

“Labour like education is on the Concurrent List of the Constitution, which makes it a concern of not only state governments but also of the Centre. The Centre could have intervened in the matter,” said Dasgupta.

A ministry official said: “The Tamil Nadu incident dominated the first part of the meeting.”

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