The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha gets Basu backing

Calcutta, Oct. 27: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today received crucial support from veteran CPM leader Jyoti Basu in his battle to prevent strikes in the information technology sector.

At the end of the CPM’s state secretariat meeting today, Basu said: “The IT sector should be treated as an essential service. Strikes and other trade union activities should be restricted in this sector.”

Basu, however, reaffirmed the employees’ right to form an association.w

“If employees there have grievances and complaints, they should have a right to form their organisation,” he said.

Unions have called a nationwide strike on December 14. The chief minister is determined to protect IT from disruption, but Citu has said it would take a decision only 48 hours before the strike day.

The statement by Basu, a long standing Citu leader himself, assumes importance in the light of the fact that there will be efforts between now and December 14 to find a way out of a clash between the union and state government.

After keeping the IT sector ticking on October 9 when the Trinamul Congress called a strike, Bhattacharjee had indicated he would do the same on December 14. “One government, one policy,” he had said then.

Bhattacharjee refused comment today. “Since I do not know what Jyotibabu has said I shall not comment.”

Basu’s statement comes days after Citu formed the first employees’ organisation in IT, which will be publicly unveiled at a meeting in Sector V of Salt Lake on November 14.

The association has declared its intention to “persuade” IT employees to join the December 14 strike.

Basu’s description of IT as an essential service evoked different responses from the state and central units of Citu.

The union’s state president Shyamal Chakraborty said: “Jyotibabu is the supreme authority in our party. Whatever he says, he reflects the party’s stand.”

Citu’s national secretary and CPM politburo member Chittabrata Majumdar, while refusing to get into a debate on whether to treat IT as an essential service, ruled out exempting it from the December 14 strike.

“There will be a strike in IT wherever we have the strength. Bengal cannot be an exception,” Majumdar said.

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