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Centre raises minimum wage, but unions stand by Sept 2 strike call

Centre raises minimum wage, but unions stand by Sept 2 strike call

As a measure to dissuade trade unions from going on strike on September 2, the government has also made a decision to raise the daily minimum wage for unskilled non-agricultural workers for "C" category areas to Rs 350 from the earlier Rs 112.

The Left and Congress-affiliated unions have planned the general strike to oppose the NDA government's economic and labour policies, exempting hospitals, medical stores, milk distribution and other emergency services from the day-long strike.

Explaining further, Union labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya said that an amendment in the Minimum Wage Act is required for fixing a universal minimum wage and an initiative has been taken in this direction.

All the other trade unions have, however, resolved to go ahead with the strike with the view that little of significance will be addressed by the government and will be meeting the media to announce the details.

"CITU considers this statement a deliberate "misinformation campaign" to create confusion and to sabotage the countrywide general strike on Friday which all sections of workers and employees have already prepared to join", it added. "The trade unions reject such a mockery in the name of offer with the contempt it deserves", the statement added.

Bank, government offices, factories, insurance companies, telecom companies and power plants will be closed on Bharat Bandh. Domestic workers' unions are increasingly joining the count, and in some states autorickshaw drivers have joined the call, with the city of Mumbai being a notable exception to this.

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Attacking the government's initiatives on labour reforms, the unions said: "All these proactive initiatives militate against the basic interests and rights of the working people".

"In the last one-and-a-half year, the inter-ministerial committee held meetings with the central trade unions".

The Karnataka Union of School and LMV Drivers Association has also said that it will support the strike.

Normal life will be affected today as 18 crore workers of government and private sectors will go on strike. "The minimum wage for unskilled worker comes out to be near Rs. 9,100 per month which is nowhere near our demand of Rs. 18,000 a month". Jaitley said, "The revised bonus will cost the exchequer Rs 1,920 crore per year for two years and that the government will take necessary steps to resolve the cases pending in HCs/SCs with regard to payment of bonus". However, transport facilities will be functioning in Mumbai as bus, auto-rickshaw and cabs unions have decided not to join the strike. The decision would benefit 33 lakh central government employees.

Several parts of the country are likely to shut down between 6am and 6pm in varying degrees in response to a call for strike on September 2.

At the press conference, Jaitley also said the government will increase the minimum wage of non-agricultural workers to Rs 350 a day from the present Rs 246 a day.

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