Claiming that their two-day nation-wide strike has generated an "unprecedented" response, central trade unions today said the success should serve as a wake up call to the government for settling their demands, even as they deplored reports of violence on the first day.
Union leaders regretted that they were being blamed for causing Rs 20,000 crore loss to the economy and wondered if the government was aware of the loss accrued due to 2G license row, concession extended to corporates in the last budget and farmers' suicides.
"The strike was unprecedented. Never ever have we witnessed such a general strike . We had never believed the general strike would be so massive and widespread," AITUC General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta, flanked by other union leaders, told reporters here.
If the hunger strike of Anna Hazare and the protest following the Delhi gangrape could force the government to come up with anti-graft bill and ordinance, today's strike should compel it to take steps for the settlement of the workers' demands, he said.
"If anybody has an eye to look, if anybody has a brain to think, let the government think what has been the response to the strike and take the lesson from this," he said.
He maintained that the government was never ready for talks with the unions when they announced the strike in September last year and even when the matter was raised in Parliament and at the standing labour committee's meeting where the Prime Minister was present.
"What is shameful is that of the four senior ministers engaged to talk to the unions by the Prime Minister, Finance Minister P Chidambaram was conspicuous by his absence in the meeting with whom several demands related to his ministry were to be discussed. It only gives rise to the suspicion that it was a make-up show," the AITUC general secretary said.
Dasgupta also dared West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to declare the strike as illegal, saying "if she is so confident that because of strike , somebody can be made illegal, let her do it in West Bengal... we will face it."
Right to strike is guaranteed by the Constitution and nobody can declare illegal, he said.
The two-day strike has been called up 11 central trade unions to press for their 10-point charter of demands which include pensions for everyone along with removal of ceiling on bonus and provident fund.