Govt meeting our demands, we may not join Sept 2 strike: BMS

By: | Published: August 18, 2016 6:16 AM

RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), of late, has been critical of the government's labour policies. However, even as the other 10 central trade unions...

RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), of late, has been critical of the government’s labour policies. However, even as the other 10 central trade unions have given a strike call on September 2 to protest against the government’s alleged anti-labour initiatives, BMS is yet to lend support to the cause. It is negotiating with the government on its charter of demands. BMS president Baij Nath Rai talks to Surya Sarathi Ray on the trade union’s stand. Excerpts:

In the recent Bhopal convention, BMS launched a scathing attack on the government for its anti-labour actions.

The mindset of the government is not in favour of employing or recruiting any permanent employee because of the wage burden. They had earlier agreed to our demands for job, wage and social securities for the workers. For us, job security of course doesn’t mean fixed-term labour.

But, the government has introduced fixed-term employment in the garment sector and may extend the same to many other labour-intensive areas. 

They tell us that they are ready to accept our proposals, but in practice, they are doing just the opposite. Then how do we support them? No wage is protected now. No social security is there. They are talking about migration of provident fund pension to the new pension system (which is based on defined contribution). NPS, according to us, amounts to gambling, as the funds get invested in share markets.

How is the BMS going to respond?

In trade union movements, there are people with vested interests. Some trade unions are playing politics. They are not fighting for the workers. They are simply going against the government. Now, there will be strike every year. No wage earner likes a strike.

So, the BMS won’t participate in the strike?

For us, the strike would be the last resort. Last year, after the strike call was given, we forced the government to give us in writing the assurances to work on our 12 point charter of demands. Now the same situation has come. We are now pressuring the government from all quarters to implement our demands and they are succumbing to the pressure.

What is the government saying?

Last evening (during a meeting with the finance minister and other ministers on Tuesday), they accepted in-principle to enforce minimum wages and implement bonus. We told the government that they should at least pay all their employees the minimum bonus of Rs 7,000. The finance minister has agreed and asked the expenditure secretary yesterday (Tuesday) itself to calculate the financial implications. They have also agreed to our demand that a contract worker will also get the same wage as regular workers. We have told them that we would not be satisfied until and unless we see the notifications. They will get back to us in 4-5 days. In addition to that, they are also actively considering enhancing minimum pension to Rs 2,000 from Rs 1,000 now. They are also considering removal of ceiling for ESIC benefits.

What if the demands are not finally met?

If they issue the relevant notifications, we will not opt for the strike. If they don’t, we will join the strike. At present, it is certain if we would join the September 2 strike called by CTUs. We don’t want politics in trade union. On that day, CPI and CPI(M) have also called strike.

You can go against the BJP or the government politically, but not mixing it with workers’ demand. We are against it. If the government does not meet our demand, we will go for strike certainly, but that may not be on September 2.

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