All India Strike: What made the trade union members take the call?

The government has announced an increase in the minimum wage from Rs. 246 to Rs. 350.  This is a 42% increase in the wages for the unskilled, non-agricultural central government employees. Now the employees under the category – C can earn Rs. 9100 for 26 days of work.

But, even though the government agreed to make provisions to increase the minimum wages, the trade union members still held the all-India strike on Friday.  What has led them to take such steps? Here is a breakup:

The trade union had demanded a minimum wage of the workers under the C-category to Rs. 18,000 per month. For the Class A and Class B category, the demand of wages was Rs 26,560 and Rs 22,320 respectively. However, the government only agreed on the wages to be Rs 13,598 for category-A, Rs 11,362 for category-B and Rs 9,100 for the C-category which is half of the demanded wage amount. There is also an urban –rural divide existing in the allotment of categories of employees.

The modifications in the minimum wage will be made by the central government in accordance with the Minimum Wage Act (1948). The unskilled non-agricultural central government employment has 45 professions, some of which are-construction workers, mine workers, loaders and unloaders etc.

The states have agreed to realise the minimum wage amendment only if there are more than thousand registered employees in the particular employment. The largest number of scheduled jobs is registered in Assam at 105 in 2013. States like Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa are close in competition with Assam in the number.

According to the National Floor Level Minimum Wage proposed by National Commission on Rural Labour (1991), a uniform wage structure was fixed at a minimum of Rs. 35 per day. This minimum wage was revised in the following years and currently the minimum wage stands at Rs 160 per day. The disadvantage of the recommendations made by the National Commission on Rural Labour is that it not mandatory in all the states in the country and therefore there is a great disparity in the minimum wages of different parts of the country due to a lack of statutory backing.

The states have been advised to not fix the minimum wage lower than the proposed wage. Few states in the country namely Delhi and Kerala, have a higher minimum than the wage announced by the government. The current problem is that in the absence of a set legal foundation backing the minimum wage in the various parts of the country, it can drop to a very low amount and the outrage of the trade union members seems to a backlash of the same situation.

18 lakh workers join strike over centre’s anti-labour reforms

Vital services like banking and public transport were impacted in parts of the country today as ten central trade unions went ahead with their one-day nationwide strike, even as the government appealed to them for calling off the agitation, which was boycotted by Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) backed by the BJP and the National Front of Trade Unions.

The workers who were majorly from the banking, transport, port, shipping and oil and gas sectors, alleged that the BJP-led union ministry has been indifferent to their demands for higher wages.

The initial reports suggested that up to 15 crore workers might join the bandh, the trade unions claimed that around 18 lakh workers have responded to their call.

 According to reports, in several parts of the country services got affected; in Delhi, nurses and radiologists announced indefinite strike till their demands are fulfilled. In an instance reported, a group of protesting nurses were manhandled by the police and were detained by allegedly dragging them into the bus.

In Kerala and Karnataka schools and colleges remained shut as public transports were partially hit. Mumbai incidentally did not see much of a difference since the railway functioned as Indian Railways did not participate in the strike.

Clashes were reported in and around West Bengal while Siliguri Mayor Ashok Bhattacharya got arrested along with 15 other protestors.

The trade unions released a joint statement on Thursday stating the unresponsive and undemocratic attitude of the government, alleged the announcements made by the Committee of Ministers to be an eyewash to which they also added that no major demands has been accepted.

The centre to this strike seems to be the dissatisfaction of the workers on the meagre raise of wage to only Rs 9100 per month.

Sources: Scroll  NDTV

Bharat Bandh creates stir in Kerala and West Bengal; Maharashtra, Delhi least affected

The nationwide trade union strike, which commenced on September 2 has hit some parts of India majorly, but has not created much impact in states like Maharashtra and Delhi. Kerala, West Bengal and some areas of Karnataka have been badly affected by this strike.

Public transport services in Kerala were dismissed, with schools,shops and companies also being closed. Many passengers remained stranded on the roads of Thiruvananthapuram and other places of the state due to this occurrence.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had declared that factories and transport would run as usual in West Bengal, however clashes did take place between the strikers and police there with the left parties supporting the strike.
Bharat Bandh has also affected the banking sector in India. Except for State Bank of India, all other Public sector banks remained shut. But the private sector banks have continued their functioning in many parts of the nation. The workers of Coal India Ltd. have also gone on strike.
Millions of workers have joined this strike to protest against the investment and new labor policies of the Modi government. Finance minster Arun Jaitley tried to convince the workers to call off the strike by announcing the release of state employees bonus, however the unions rejected this offer and went ahead with the protest.