The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Way out of IT strike in sight

Calcutta, Nov. 10: The CPM-led government and the party’s labour arm, Citu, appear to be closing in on a way to avoid a strike in the 24x7 information technology industry.

Veteran leader Jyoti Basu today said the party was looking at the IT industry as an essential service.

“As of now, we are considering the IT sector as an essential service where workers have every right to form a union. But strikes should be restricted there,” he said after a meeting of the party’s state leadership.

If seen as an essential service, IT will be spared the December 14 strike called by Citu and other unions across the country.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Citu had looked to be heading towards a showdown over the strike. Bhattacharjee has sworn to protect the industry from disruption while Citu leaders have refused to keep IT out of the strike.

“If IT employees are to go on strike at all, the norms followed in essential services during strikes should be adhered to,” Basu said.

That means a 42-day notice before going on strike.

But December 14 is 33 days away, so there is no way the rule can be followed and, therefore, there is every possibility that IT will escape the strike.

“Trade unions require to give a 42-day notice for any strike in such industries. The state IT-ITES policy has given the sector the status of a public utility service,” said state Citu president Shyamal Chakraborty.

If this signals the state Citu leadership’s willingness to fall in line with government intentions, the union’s central leaders have yet to be convinced.

They have said in the past that the decision on IT would be made known 48 hours before the strike day.

The CPM state leadership today discussed the issue in the presence of Citu general secretary Chittabrata Majumdar and Chakraborty.

Chakraborty is spearheading the association of IT employees that will be launched in three days, a move that seems to have sent shivers down the industry.

His words may dispel its apprehension. “We are not going to call a strike in the IT-ITES industry at the drop of a hat,” Chakraborty said.

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