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Unions threaten strike of 100 million

Anger over inflation and labor violations

Unions threaten strike of 100 million
AITUC leader Gurudas Dasgupta (second from left) in an anti-government protest last year
Swati Deb, New Delhi

February 18, 2013

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A union coalition representing about 100 million workers have threatened a two-day strike against the federal government’s “inaction” on rising prices and alleged violations of labor laws.

The crucial banking and transport sectors would be included in the strike, scheduled for February 20 and 21. 

"Never before have we done something like this for two days, and never before have we had such an anti-people, anti-labor and anti-trade union government," said Gurudas Dasgupta, general secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC). 

"It will be a wake-up call for the federal government."

The strike has been called jointly by the AITUC, Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh (Indian Labor Forum) affiliated to the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, and the India National Trade union affiliated to the ruling Congress Party. 

As many as 11 trade unions and workers’ federations associated with different political parties will take part, Dasgupta said.

"We are demanding implementation of labor laws and urging the government to re-look at its policies, which have brought disinvestment in public sector companies, inflation and untold miseries to people," said Dasgupta, a member of parliament from the Communist Party of India (Marxists). 

The strike, set to coincide with the first day of the budget session of parliament, could be intensified further if the government does not acquiesce to workers' demands, said Amarjeet Kaur of AITUC.

The Congress-led federal government has been under fire for unchecked inflation.

However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has urged the trade unions to withdraw their call to strike.

“Such a strike would lead to avoidable loss to our economy and inconvenience to the public through disruption of services,” he said in a statement. 

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