Unions reject PM appeal to call off strike
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday appealed to trade unions to withdraw their decision to enforce a countrywide general strike on February 20 and 21. In a last-minute intervention, he also asked senior ministers A K Antony, Sharad Pawar, P Chidambaram and Mallikarjuna Kharge to hold talks with representatives of the 11 central trade unions to find an amicable solution. The leaders are scheduled to hold talks with the unions on Monday.
"Such a strike would lead to avoidable loss to our economy and inconvenience to the public through disruption of services," the Prime Minister said in his Twitter account. He pointed out that while some raised by the trade unions are "already being acted upon", others are at various stages of consideration.
"I have requested my senior Cabinet colleagues A K Antony, Sharad Pawar, P Chidambaram and M Kharge to hold discussions with trade unions. I am confident that these discussions would result in a course of action that is acceptable both to the trade unions and the government," he said.
Trade union representatives, however, were not enthused with the PM's intervention. "It is too late in the day," AITUC leader Gurudas Dasgupta told The Indian Express. He said the trade unions would like to see settlement of their issues rather than mere assurances.
BMS president Saji Narayanan C K said, "It is strange that the Prime Minister has found time only now to make an appeal and talk to the unions. We had given the notice for the strike five months ago. The Labour Minister met us five days ago and now the PM has made an appeal just two days ahead of the strike. This only shows that this government is not at all serious about issues of workers, farmers and the common man."
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