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Trade unions’ strike may hit essential services today

AIEA strikeNew Delhi:(IANS) Essential services, including transport and banking are likely to be affected on Wednesday (today) with 10 central trade unions going on a nationwide strike.

Taxi and auto drivers will also participate in the protest, All India Trade Union secretary, D.L. Sachdev told IANS here on Tuesday.

“Over 15 crore people would go on strike in the country to protest against the government’s anti-worker policies,” he claimed.

Over 90,000 auto-rickshaws and 15,000 taxis are expected to go off the road in the  national capital, said Sanjay Chawla, who had mobilised about 40,000 auto drivers to support ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) before elections.

He said 2.5 lakh posters have been put up across Delhi in support of the strike.

Sachdev said flights might also get delayed as aviation fuel supply was likely to be affected. He said the other sectors that would be impacted include coal, port and docks, steel, oil and gas supply.

All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) general secretary C.H. Venkatachalam said, “Across the country about 500,000 bank workers and officers would participate in the strike. About 75,000 branches will not work tomorrow.”

“Employees of the public sector, old private sector, cooperative and regional rural banks will take part in the strike,” he added.

However, employees of State Bank of India (SBI) and Indian Overseas Bank are not participating in the strike.

He said refilling of currency notes at automatic teller machines (ATM) by bank employees will also be affected.

“In those ATMs where refilling of currency note operation have been outsourced, the strike will impact them as well as the ATMs may go dry  fast,” he added.

Sachdev said the government was offering Rs. 7,100 per month as the minimum wage, but the unions stick to their demand of enhancing it to Rs.15,000 a month as the government was not accepting the demand for equal wages for contractual workers at par with regular workers.

Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and National Front of Indian Trade Unions, however, have decide not to participate the strike, citing “positive response” of the government.

The unions have called the strike to seek their representation in the labour reform process and wages to contractual workers at par with regular workers, apart from increasing the stipulated minimum wages to Rs.15,000.

In the financial services sector, employees of government-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and four non-life insurance companies would also be participating in the strike.

“Unions representing class 3 and 4 category of employees in LIC and the four non-life insurers have given the strike call,” J.Gurumurthy, vice president, All India Insurance Employees Association (AIIEA) told IANS.

The government on Tuesday urged the central trade unions to call off their countrywide strike on Wednesday. “I appeal to them to reconsider the call of strike in the interest of the workers and the nation,” Union Labour and Employment Minister Bandaru  Dattatreya told reporters here.

Last week, the trade unions and a group of ministers led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had met twice.

Dattatreya said the government responded positively to nine out of the 12 demands, while no consensus was reached on the remaining.

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