Trade unions march to speaker to submit memo on price rise (Lead)

February 23rd, 2011 - 5:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Meira Kumar New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) Leaders of major trade unions and national federations of workers Wednesday headed towards Parliament House to submit a memorandum to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar after addressing over a lakh union members at a march against price rise.

The protesting central trade unions and independent workers have demanded change in what they called the “indifferent and don’t care attitude” of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government towards the “steep rise in the prices of essential commodities, rampant violation in implementation of labour laws, plight of unorganised workers, and reckless contractorisation of employees”.

“We have come here to ask the government to have a stronger labour policy, to stop disinvestment of public sector units, and to address corruption and the issue of unemployment,” said Gurudas Dasgupta, general secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).

“This is the first time after independence that the Left and non-Left trade unions have come together for the cause of people,” added Dasgupta.

The protest march led to traffic snarls in some key areas of central Delhi and arterial roads.

Office-goers and commuters taking the arterial central Delhi routes faced acute problems negotiating even short distances

“Roads leading to the New Delhi Railway Station, Ajmeri Gate, Ram Lila Maidan, Darya Ganj, Connaught Place, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, and ITO are facing traffic congestion,” a senior official of the Delhi Traffic Police told IANS.

The union leaders were also joined by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Brinda Karat and Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja.

“All the leaders of the Congress party are first servants of people, so we have joined the protest. Due to price rise and unemployment, people are forced to die,” said G. Sanjeeva Reddy, president of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).

“The situation is bad. Disinvestment in factories has thrown out people from their jobs. We have raised voice against the laws that are against labourers,” added Reddy.

While price rise and unemployment figured as the major concerns of the trade unions, the leaders were keen on making the movement bigger in the days to come.

“Industrialisation has left many people jobless. This is the semi-final, we have come here to register our grievances with the government. If we are not listened to, we will make it Tahrir square of Egypt,” said S.P. Tiwari, general secretary of the Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC).

Independent union members and employees from all across the country also joined in the protest.

“Raja is in Tihar jail, but what about the corporates involved in 2G spectrum scam. We don’t get money from the employment guarantee scheme in our village and so is the case with other public-welfare schemes,” said Sitya Devi, a labourer from Bhagalpur in Bihar.

S.N. Pathak, president of the All India Defence Employees Federation said: “Scandals and scams are reported in the defence, private sector and foreign arms deals also. The privatisation and neo-liberal policies of the government have not spared even the most strategic defence industries of our country.”

Over 10,000 defence employees from the army, navy and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) joined the march that saw participation of over 2 lakh people.

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