Trade Unions on nationwide strike
With central trade unions on a one day nation-wide strike, essential services like banking and public transport may be impacted. More than 15 crore workers from 10 central trade unions, including those in the banking, manufacturing, construction and coal mining sectors, are taking part in the strike. BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and National Front of Trade Unions are not a part of the agitation.
The draft labour code on industrial relations has proposed to amalgamate three labour laws including The Trade Unions Act, 1926, The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 and The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. According to the proposal, firms employing up to 300 workers would be permitted to lay them off without prior government approval, as against the current threshold of 100 workers.
The protest is against the labour reforms made by the NDA government. The demand of the trade unions was to seek withdrawal of labour law amendments. The unions decided to go ahead with the strike as their talks with a ministerial panel headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley last month did not make any headway on their 12-point charter of demands.
Demands included containing price-rise; containing unemployment; strict enforcement of basic labour laws; universal social security; minimum wage of Rs.15,000 per month; pension not less than Rs.3000 per month. Others were stoppage of PSU disinvestment; stoppage of contractorisation; removal of ceiling on bonus; compulsory registration of trade-unions within 45 days; stoppage of FDI in railways, insurance and defence; and stoppage of pro-employer labour law amendments.
In addition to 12-point charter of demands, the central trade unions are also demanding the withdrawal of the Land Acquisition amendment bill/ ordinance.
In response to the demands made by the trade unions, government had circulated a note explaining that it was working on seven of the demands. This includes amendments to Minimum Wages Act, Contract Labour Act and providing universal society security. The government also assured the continuity of Rs.1000 minimum pension and that the demands for dearness allowance (DA) would be looked into.