The Guardian August 13, 2003


India right to strike nation-wide protest

The central trade union body CITU has called for an all India protest 
action on August 13. The actions are in response to a Supreme Court 
judgement on August 6, banning the right to strike. The decision was made 
in relation to Tamilnadu (TN) government employees and teachers.

CITU secretariat called upon all the trade unions irrespective of 
affiliations to organise protest demonstrations in all the workplaces to 
assert their determination and resolve to defend the right to strike.

The Delhi State Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) said it was an 
authoritarian order banning strikes by Central Government Employees and 
could have wider ramifications if not fought against.

The Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers said that 
"The Supreme Court ruling yesterday that the government employees have no 
fundamental legal or moral or equitable right to go on strike even for a 
just cause is to put it mildly unfortunate. It is all the more so because 
the said opinion was made while hearing a batch of petitions challenging 
the dismissal of 170,000 Tamilnadu state government employees, without even 
affording them an opportunity of being heard, the high principles of 
natural justice any civilized society adheres to.

"The court's advice that the government employees in a democratic welfare 
state should only resort to the machinery provided under different 
statutory provisions for redressal of grievances, viewed from the fact that 
the TN state employees have no such machinery for collective negotiation 
and settlement "is beyond one's comprehension"

"It is really said that the apex court failed to appreciate the fact that 
the unilateral withdrawal of the pensionary benefits, the social security 
measure introduced decades back of the government employees was the root 
cause for agitation. The refusal to honour the commitment made earlier, 
and the other unprecedented repressive measures accentuated the flow of 
anger, anguish and discontent amongst the rank and file of the employees.

"It is the governments' economic policies (both of the center and the 
states) of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation and the 
consequent pauperisation of the workers and poor people that have triggered 
widespread agitations and strikes throughout the country, be it in the 
government sector, public sector or private sector or the people at large. 
The attempt to pitch the common people against the workers through 
malicious propaganda of an imagined clash of interest will not succeed."

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