New Delhi, Aug 31: Trade unions have refused to call off their nationwide strike on September 2 even after Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s announced to hike minimum wages for non-agricultural workers. As many as 10 trade unions including INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF have given call for ‘Bharat Bandh’ on September 2. Trade unions stood firm on their demands and reiterated that Bharat Bandh will be observed on September 2. Trade unions rejected Arun Jaitley’s offer terming it “completely inadequate”. The government on Tuesday announced 42 per cent hike in minimum wage to Rs 350 per day.
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) leader Tapan Sen described the hike in daily wages announced by the government as “status quo” and said there was “no question of calling off the strike”. “The government’s minimum wage announcement is completely inadequate. The strike stands and we demand they should enact a law to fix minimum (universal) wage,” All India Trade Union Congress General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said. In an attempt to avert the strike, Arun Jaitley announced a slew of labour-friendly measures including hiking of minimum wage to Rs 350 a day for unskilled non-agricultural workers for ‘C’ category areas in central sphere. Jaitley’s announcement came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an emergency meeting with him, Power and Coal minister Piyush Goyal and Union Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya. (ALSO READ: LIVE Bharat Bandh Today, 2 Sep 2016: Live Updates on Trade Unions strike; banks, factories, govt offices remain shut)
After government’s announcement, the minimum income (for 26 days) becomes Rs 9,100, which is way below the unions’ demand of Rs 18,000. Initially, the trade unions had demanded Rs 15,000 as minimum monthly income for daily wagers but the demand was revised after the government accepted the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission. “Finance Minister’s statement clearly shows that the government has not considered any of the demands in our 12-point charter. The unions have no other alternative but to fight for their rights,” Indian National Trade Union Congress Vice-President Ashok Singh said. (ALSO READ: Bharat Bandh: Trade unions adamant to go on strike on September 2; here is the list of their 12 demands)
The trade unions had given their ’12-point charter of demands’ to the government in September last year, but the government failed to take any action on it. One of the foremost demands of the trade unions is increase in minimum wage. Aggrieved by government’s response on their ’12-point charter of demands’, trade unions have called for Bharat Bandh on September 2. Normal life and operations in factories and banks are going to be affected on September 2 as 10 central trade unions have taken this call to go on strike. Nearly 5 lakh bank union workers and officers, including employees of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), are set to join the strike. (ALSO READ: Bharat Bandh 2016: Banks, govt offices, factories to remain shut tomorrow as 15 crore workers to go on strike)
The trade unions are also unhappy with government panel’s meeting Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), a major union linked to the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor, the RSS. “It is unfortunate that during the past one year, the group of ministers appointed for discussion with CTUOs (unions) on 12-point charter has not convened a single meeting, but has been only talking to BMS which has not joined the strike call. The CTOUs condemn the move of the central government to divide the workers in the face of ongoing strike campaign and create confusion through making misleading statements…” the joint declaration issued by the 10 central trade unions stated.