Tamil Nadu Bus Strike called off after Court Intervntion

Image Courtesy: Press Trust of India
After ten days of strike, TNSTC workers will be resuming duty after order by Madras High Court.

Chennai, January 12: After ten long days, the bus strike by Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) Union was called off on late night of Thursday. A. Soundrarajan, the President of Centre of India Trade Union confirmed the news.

Earlier, the Madras High Court acting on a bunch of PIL’S against the strike, appointed former judge E. Padmanabhan as an arbitrator between the employees and the government regarding the issue of wage revision. It however rejected the workers demand that the agreement signed a few days ago with some of the unions should receive legal validity and asked the workers to resume duty at once.

The Judges clearly defined the role of the arbitrator by asking him to focus only on two issues-entitlement of wage revision of workers using a multiple factor of 2.57, instead of factor of 2.41 as agreed by government and the cut-off date for the revision.

They also refused to entertain the plea by workers that an original demand charter submitted way back in November, 2016 should be a part of the reference. The judges however, appealed to the workers to resume their duty to help general public in light of the Pongal festival and not to cause any further inconvenience for them.

Earlier the Transport Secretary P.C. Davidar refused to withdraw criminal cases against who were involved in destruction of public property and also declared government’s stand of no payment to the employees during strike period.

Source: The Hindu, The News Minute

Tamil Nadu trade unions boycott Pepsi and Coca-Cola

In an attempt to increase support for local products, prominent trade bodies in Tamil Nadu have called for a boycott of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Members of the Tamil Nadu Traders Federation (TNTF) and the Consortium of Tamil Nadu Traders Association (CTNTA) are requesting shopkeepers to stock up on home-grown brands like Bovonto, Torino and Frooti to increase sales and provide an alternative to the global cola brands.
The trade unions claim to have taken inspiration from the successful Jallikattu protests, which repealed a ban on the bull-taming festival. The heads of the unions have also cited environmental and health concerns, alleging that multinational soft drink corporations were misusing groundwater resources. A M Vikramaraja, president of the CTNTA, also addressed the media, saying, “We are not opposing it just because these products are made by the MNCs. But it does more harm than good to the body. We decided to boycott because of the harmful content.”
Out of nearly 20 lakh shopkeepers that are affiliated with the trade unions, nearly a third will take the products off their shelves with immediate effect. However, the ban has been opposed by several supermarkets located in Chennai. The ban comes at a time when PepsiCo’s Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi, who incidentally happens to hail from Chennai, has flown to India as a part of a week-long tour of the country, culminating in a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sources: DNA, Firstpost

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.

Karnataka facing the brunt of the all-India ‘bandh’

As the nation prepares itself for Fridays’ big strike announced by the trade union, concerns are rising among the common people due to the unavailability of public transport. The strike largely affects the office goers who will be unable to report at their workplaces. With the Auto and Cab drivers complying with the strike, people are losing out on alternate transportation options.

Karnataka is joining the states which are supporting the strike called by the union traders. Friday’s strike will mark to fifth such incident in the past couple of months which saw a halt in the public transportation. Earlier, such strikes were a rare phenomenon, but lately, with the growing number if such incidents, Karnataka seems to be following the likes of West Bengal (Bengal) and Kerala in the frequency of trade union strikes. Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka is one of the fastest growing cities in the country in the recent past. With the IT boom, Bangalore has managed to get the country’s GDP growing at a very fast pace but with the recent instances of strikes, Bangalore also seems to be facing a severe beating.

Various firms which need employees to be working during the nationwide strike are now making arrangements for the commute of the essential staff to the workspace. HRs of firms are now drawing lists in order to figure out the indispensable employees which have to report to the office. Many offices have extended the option of working from for the employees, keeping in mind the inconvenience and safety issues.

Bangalore was a booming industrial city in Karnataka because it did not get affected by the various political conflicts and the tiff with the union. With the growing cases of strikes in the state, Karnataka is losing out on capital and industrialists and IT firms might soon retreat from the state just like in the case of the communist dominant states of Kerala and Bengal. Contrarily, The West Bengal Chief Minister has refrained from complying with the Friday strike.

The union members do have a fair right to call a strike to meet their demands and negotiating with the government but the incidents of violence during this period is the biggest cause of concern. In many cities across the nation, cabs and other vehicles on the road have been destructed.  These incidents also expose the lack of adequate policing and that a handful of people are trying to exploit the situation in their favour.

With the shutting down of the country, huge losses will be incurred by the economy. According to industry experts, the city is set to lose hundreds of crores if it comes to a standstill and a day-long strike will zero out on a day’s revenue which otherwise ranges from Rs120-140 crore. Bangalore primarily is a service based industrial city and the bandh will not be of any gain as it is mainly associated with those who are in the manufacturing sector.

Strikes are one of the major reason due to which the country has failed to establish a strong industrial hold and now due to the trade union’s efforts to show power and disrupt hierarchy, the city is suffering a great deal. Brand Bangalore is now at stake due to the blackmailing tactics used by the trade union members and the support of counterproductive measures by the state government for political gains. In this situation, the city is facing adversities and bleeds of its revenues.

Source: TOI  Navbharat Times