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India: Maharashtra’s Black Act

12 August 2012

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People’s Democracy, 12 August 2012

CITU Decries Maharashtra’s Black Act

THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has expressed serious concern and registered its emphatic protest against the notification of the draconian Essential Services Maintenance Act 2011, virtually imposing a total ban on the right to strike following the presidential assent to the bill passed by the Maharashtra legislature.

The CITU statement, issued by its president A K Padmanabhan on August 4, recalled that even when the said bill was introduced, debated and passed in the Maharashtra assembly, all the trade unions in Maharashtra, irrespective of affiliations and from all sectors, recorded their strong opposition to such draconian legislation on all occasions. But most unfortunately, a government elected by the people has been so captivated by and made subservient to the corporate and big business lobby, both domestic and foreign, that it demonstrated heinous contempt for the basic democratic rights of the working people who keep the wheel of the economy running.

The concerned legislation, the MESMA, seeks to ban all strikes on the plea that they would affect public life. But ’public life’ and ’impact on public life’ have been so widely defined that leave room for open ended interpretation by the enforcement authorities. This, the CITU said, thoroughly exposes their ploy to impose a complete ban on the right to strike in all services and establishments and all the occupations. This warrants condemnation from all concerned.

It is unfortunate that the Maharashtra government could not conceive of a legislation to impose a ban of lockouts and closures although the state witnesses rampant and unlawful usage of such weapons by the employers, affecting the livelihood of several thousands of workers. The state is also the home of highest number of sick and closed units where lakhs of affected workers did not get any compensation. Almost all the labour laws are being violated by the employers, and the enforcement machinery has become non-existent. The CITU’s question is: Does the Maharashtra government not consider those lakhs of workers who are deprived of statutory benefits as public?

The CITU has demanded the Maharashtra government scrap the said draconian legislation, and has urged the central government to intervene in that direction since this legislation to ban strike is an affront to the basic provisions and spirit of our constitution.

The CITU has also called upon the working class to unite and protest the said draconian law and defend its right to strike by confronting the nefarious assault by bravely asserting the said right in the days to come. The entire working class of the country would firmly stand by the working class of Maharashtra in their struggle to defend their right to strike, the CITU has assured.