General strike in India planned over price rises

India's major unions have called for a nationwide general strike this September over numerous issues including the rising cost of living and demanding an improved social security net.

The Hindu reported that all central trade unions have called for a nationwide strike against the Centre's policies regarding price rise and other issues concerning workers including the violation of labour laws, Gurudas Dasgupta, general secretary of the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), announced here on Wednesday.

“The decision on when the strike will be held will be taken at a national convention of all central trade unions to be held on July 15, but the tentative date for the strike will be in the first week of September,” Mr. Dasgupta said at a press conference.

This is the first time that all trade unions, including the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), are coming together in calling a general strike, claimed Mr. Dasgupta.

The decision to call for a strike was taken at a meeting of representatives from all eight central trade unions that was chaired by INTUC president, Dr. G. Sanjeeva Reddy, he added.

Concerns on issues including price rise, violation of labour laws, disinvestment of profit-making Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and the demand for a national fund for social security of the unorganised sector were raised at the meeting, he said.

On being asked about the involvement of the Congress' trade union wing, INTUC, in the strike which has several demands that the Left parties have repeatedly raised, Mr. Dasgupta clarified that several issues including violation of labour laws, continuous loss of jobs and the need for a fund for the unorganised sector were exclusive demands of the trade unions.

Mr. Dasgupta said the trade unions were forced to take this step after several attempts to voice their concerns to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee failed.