Bengal slammed for plans to scrap emloyees’ union rightsFebruary 2nd, 2012 - 3:00 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Feb 2 (IANS) The West Bengal government’s plans to drop a clause in service rules of its employees that gives them full trade union rights have drawn the ire of a majority of workers’ organisations.
“If the right to strike is taken away from government employees, all the central trade unions will rally behind them with all solidarity,” All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) general secretary and Communist Party of India (CPI) MP Gurudas Dasgupta said.
Describing as “unfortunate” state Labour Minister Purnendu Bose’s comments that the amendment will be repealed, Dasgupta said the remarks were against the “constitution principles” and the rights upheld by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention.
The minister said Tuesday: “As per their service rules, government employees shouldn’t be criticising the government.”
The clause introduced as an amendment to the service regulations of the government employees in the 1980s by the then Left Front government was “illegal”, he added.
The state service rules do not permit government employees to be part of organisations affiliated to political parties, he said.
According to the Left Front amendment, the 900,000 state government employees were allowed to set up associations and unions for collective bargaining and such bodies did not require any recognition from the government.
They could also resort to protests and organise strikes or demonstrations as part of the collective bargaining.
The Congress-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress’ (INTUC) state president Pradip Bhattacharya termed the move “improper”. “The government should hold a meeting with all central trade unions before deciding on any such step.”
The opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist’s (CPI-M) labour arm Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) was scathing in its criticism.
“This government is totally on the road to fascism. We will not allow it to snatch the rights of the workers. This is a draconian act. We will protest with all our might,” said CITU state secretary Kali Ghosh.
But the Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress (INTTUC), owing allegiance to the ruling Trinamool Congress, saw nothing wrong with the plans.
“No central trade union can have any comment on this. The state government employees are not permitted to form trade unions for their collective bargaining. As per their service rules, they cannot join any trade union affiliated to any political party. The minister has only reiterated this,” said state INTTUC in charge Dola Sen.
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