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Government deliberately trying to weaken our strike at IFFI, say FTII students

Only 22 students were given a go-ahead to attend the festival out of 50 who had applied.

Students also claimed none of the students who were at the forefront of the strike were permitted to attend the event by the institute.
File Photo
PTI
Fearing a stir at the 46th International Film Festival of India in Goa, the Union government has created multiple barriers for the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students to cut down on their strength. At least, that’s what the students have claimed. As a last resort to get their dissenting voices heard, Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), students had long planned to take their protests to IFFI, after their last dialogue with state I&B minister Rajyavardhan Rathore in Delhi failed to yield results. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the students, the institute has given a go-ahead to only 22 of the 50 students who had applied for passes to attend the festival, while every year about 60 students from the premier institute make it to the IFFI as part of their curriculum. Students also claimed none of the students who were at the forefront of the strike were permitted to attend the event by the institute. “We were told only first-timers to the event would be allowed to go to the event. However, of the 22 students selected, many have gone to the event multiple times,” Vikas Urs, one of the students, told dna. Students informed those undergoing the one-year TV course at the institute were also not permitted to attend the event with the management telling them it is not part of their curriculum to attend the IFFI.“This is the first such instance at the institute where many of our applications have been rejected by the institute for such vague reasons,” said Urs, adding that classes for the students were lined up deliberately during this period.Students also informed a second year editing student, who was part of the NDFC Film Bazaar was to intern at the IFFI, but he was denied the internship too. Moreover, the Directorate of Film festival (DFF) –under the I&B ministry, have also dropped the students’ film package from the IFFI schedule. Since the last five years, IFFI has been screening five films each from FTII and other institutes such as Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and MGR Governing Film and Television Institute. The IFFI is one of the prestigious film festivals of the country. Students said the limited number of students attending the event will go ahead with the protest in whichever way they can, even as the I&B ministry officials say they are expecting least disturbances at the event. Recently I&B minister Arun Jaitley had said he doesn’t see why someone should try and disturb an event in India and that it is not a good practice. Speaking to dna, FTII Prashant Pathrabe said the FTII has decided to fund only those students who are attending IFFI for the first time. “The others who have attended the event earlier can go at their own expenses,” he said emphasizing that attending the festival was not there in the curriculum of the TV students.However, students said every year a fund of Rs 1.8 lakh is reserved for expenses of students attending IFFI, alleging that Pathrabe is acting at the behest of the I&B ministry who is exploring all options to weaken their strike. They added that in any case they will continue their strike unless the I&B ministry gives them a constructive response on the contentious appointments in the institute such as the one of Gajendra Chauhan.

Truckers strike enters fifth day; deadlock continues

“We will be meeting Road Transport and Highways Minister this evening. We are hopeful of some positive solution. Based on the solution offered, we will call the meeting of our executive committee to decide on whether to continue the strike or not,” AIMTC President Bhim Wadhwa said.

Transporters’ nationwide strike entered its fifth day on Monday amid a continued deadlock between the agitating apex truckers body AIMTC and the government, affecting movement of goods in various parts of the country.Representatives of All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), which is demanding scrapping of the present toll system, were to meet Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari later in the evening today to find a solution.”We will be meeting Road Transport and Highways Minister this evening. We are hopeful of some positive solution. Based on the solution offered, we will call the meeting of our executive committee to decide on whether to continue the strike or not,” AIMTC President Bhim Wadhwa said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As previous consultations with the government has failed to resolve the deadlock, AIMTC has also sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in the matter.The government has proposed electronic-toll collection system in the entire country by December, but the transporters claim this was not a practical solution as a pilot project in this regard was not successful.Apart from demanding scrapping of the present toll collection system, which AIMTC says is a tool of harassment for truckers, it is also seeking a one-time payment of taxes and simplification of the TDS procedure.”Government cannot scrap toll as half of about 325 toll booths pertain to private parties which may seek huge claims from the government which can run into Rs 2-3 lakh crore,” Gadkari had said earlier. AIMTC claims the cumulative loss to the truckers in five days would be about Rs 7,500 crore while the loss to the government could be more than Rs 50,000 crore.It boasts of having 87 lakh trucks and 20 lakh buses and tempos across the country under its fold.According to reports from states, movement of goods has been impacted in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, among other places.Supply of essential goods such as milk, vegetables and medicines has been kept out of the purview of the indefinite strike called by AIMTC.Another truckers body, All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) has decided to keep away from the strike.

Transporters strike day 3: Govt refuses to budge even as truckers plan protest

New Delhi: Transporters continued their nation-wide strike for the third consecutive day today, disrupting supply of goods to various parts of the country. However, the government has refused to budge on their demand for scrapping the present toll system.

The supply of essential goods such as milk, vegetables and medicines has been kept out of the purview of the indefinite strike, called by the apex transporters body, the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC).

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

According to reports from states including Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the supply of goods has been hit.

“For toll barrier-free India, our members will stage a peaceful dharna at Jantar Mantar today. We will continue our strike till the government comes out with some practical solution to our problem. We are not against paying toll, but we are demanding it in an annualised form,” AIMTC President Bhim Wadhwa told PTI.

The electronic-toll collection system as promised by the government is “not practical”, he said.

AIMTC claims to have 87 lakh trucks and 20 lakh buses and tempos across the country under its fold.

Another truckers body, All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA) has decided to keep away from the strike.

Wadhwa said the cumulative loss to the truckers in three days was estimated at about Rs 4,500 crore while the loss to the government could be more than Rs 30,000 crore.

However, the government has refused to budge from its stance and said it cannot scrap the toll collection system.

“It is up to them to continue their strike. The government cannot scrap toll. We have already assured to implement electronic tolling system pan-India by December. I appeal to them to call off the strike,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said.

AIMTC is demanding scrapping of the existing toll system, saying it is a tool of harassment, while it is seeking a one-time payment of taxes and simplification of TDS procedure.

On the other hand, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT) said AIMTC’s suggestion to have fixed annual toll is not rational.

PTI

FTII students ready for talks without preconditions

Pune: After nearly 100 days of agitation against Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment as FTII chairman, possibility of resolution of the impasse today brightened with the protesting students saying they were ready for talks with the government without any preconditions.

Representational image. Naresh Sharma/FirstpostRepresentational image. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

Representational image. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

In response to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s letter to the FTII Students’ Association expressing its willingness to have a fresh round of dialogue “without any preconditions”, the students’ body replied saying, “We are positive about the prospective meeting and respect their expectation of not having any preconditions but also expect the ministry to not have preconditions from their side as well.”

Circulating its reply to the letter addressed to FSA president Harishankar Nachimuthu by I&B Joint Secretary K S Murthy, the association’s representative Ranjit Nair said here, “Hopefully the date and location (of talks) will be decided soon by the JS.”

The response of the striking students who have questioned TV actor and BJP member Chauhan’s credentials to head the institute follows informal talks with FSA representatives by senior BJP leader Madhav Bhandari who met them on the campus yesterday.

Meanwhile, the hunger strike by the students in a make- shift pandal continued with the protesters getting admitted to hospital and discharged periodically on medical advice.

PTI

FTII row: Not leaving post, ready to mediate, says Gajendra Chauhan

Notwithstanding protests over his appointment as chairman of Film and Television Institute of India, Gajendra Chauhan says he is not ready to leave the position but expressed his willingness to mediate between the agitating students and the government.

Gajendra Chauhan

dna Research & Archives
Notwithstanding protests over his appointment as chairman of Film and Television Institute of India, Gajendra Chauhan says he is not ready to leave the position but expressed his willingness to mediate between the agitating students and the government.FTII students have been protesting against the government’s decision for more than 90 days now.Intensifying their agitation, three students have gone on an indefinite hunger strike to press their demand for the removal of Chauhan as the chairman of the prestigious institution.The 58-year-old veteran actor says hunger strike is not any solution to the crisis and students should connect with the Union Information and Broadcasting ministry to sort out the issue.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When asked whether he was thinking of leaving the post to end the impasse, he told PTI, “I am not an irresponsible person. The moment ministry will give me the directive to join, I will join and start my work. I have said a number of times that we should sit down across the table, sort the issue and work together. I am open to reaching out to the students.I am ready to even mediate between students and the government.””Strike is not a solution. Students should have a dialogue with the ministry and sort out their problems. I am a responsible person in life. Government of India has given me some responsibility and I am ready to fulfill that.” Chauhan is best known for his portrayal of Yudhisthira in the mythological television series, “Mahabharat”.

Govt silent on FTII row: With students planning hunger strike, stalemate intensifies

Ninety days and there’s still no end to the FTII stalemate in sight. With the government showing no sign of backing down or softening its position on the students’ demands, the latter have decided to intensify their agitation by going on hunger strike. Besides, they would garner support from other states for their cause.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The hardening of stance comes after Abhijit Das, a faculty member who had entered into a hunger strike on the Teachers’ Day (5 September), fell ill and was forced to withdraw.
“It was for the first time that a faculty member had joined the strike in support of the students. When his condition deteriorated due to fasting, we forced him to withdraw. The strike has entered its 90th day and it seems to be an end of our career. We’ve now decided to follow the extreme path of fast-unto-death as the government has turned a deaf ear to our demands. Besides, students’ organizations and activist groups will conduct protest march in all the state capitals to express solidarity with our cause,” Devas Dixit, a final year student told Firstpost.

Meanwhile, the government is silent over the findings of the three-member committee appointed by the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry into the troubles within FTII. The committee, headed by SM Khan, Registrar of Newspapers for India, members had visited Pune campus on 21 August and had rounds of discussions with students, faculty members and the alumni association.

“We’ve come to know that the committee has submitted its report to the ministry, but nothing has been communicated to us. We’re completely in dark, which is making the situation worse,” Devas added.

The government has so far not commented on the findings of the committee. But a source in the ministry said it disapproves of the students’ approach on their demands. “From the demands of the FTII students, it seems that henceforth the government should consult students’ bodies regarding appointments of vice chancellors, chairpersons, directors and principals in the universities and institutes. The issue has unnecessarily been over-stretched,” a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

FTII row opens a can of worms

Though the issue of the appointment of the chairperson and other members has hogged media limelight, and the 2008 batch emerged as a ‘bone of contention’, the real problem began in 2001.

An interim report by the Group of Experts headed by PK Nair, former director, National Film Archive of India, in 2011 mentioned that it was not the students, but the existing system within the FTII that was at fault.

A copy of the report with the Firstpost mentions:

  • In 2000, a new experiment, known as the 1+1+1 plan was hurriedly introduced by the administration, and it ended in disaster.
  • A large number of semi-complete and incomplete students’ projects got piled up. The three-year course stretched on until sixth year, causing strain on students, teachers and administration.
  • Delays due to lack of mechanisms to monitor maintenance of time schedules and production budgets.
  • Infrastructural bottlenecks.
  • Desperate shortage of teachers and trained faculty members at the institute.
  • Unavailability and inaccessibility of faculty at crucial junctures.

“Equipment has been known to fail due to faulty maintenance, power cuts have disrupted schedules, laboratories have caused delays and the office bureaucracy may take days to obtain one signature for the release of required facilities…It is now so much a part of life on the campus that any fresh candidate applying for the FTII admission, we were told, is reconciled to the idea of staying for 5 years to complete a three-year programme. How long can this deteriorated state of affairs be allowed to continue?” Nair questioned in his report.

Another note written to the government by Dr Kedarnath Awati, Acting Dean, Faculty of Film at the institute has exposed the biggest anomaly, which is the jurisdiction of the I&B Ministry over the institute. He has also mentioned several causes of delay for the students to complete their curriculum.

Dr Awati said in the note, “For I&B Ministry, the FTII is but a tiny blip on a larger radar screen. We’ve been regarded as a media unit, rather than an academic institution. To top it all, we’re not even an arm of the government, like the National Film Archive of India. We’re an autonomous body run by a Governing Council. The proposals sent to the ministry have languished.”

Awati suggested, “It would have been better had the FTII been transferred lock, stock and barrel to the Ministry of HRD. Because, at HRD Ministry, education is the very life-blood and they understand the issues very clearly.”

Ranjit Nair, a core committee member of the strike, added, “We have raised our concern time and again but to no effect. The ministry and successive governments have been negligent. They level accusations against the students instead. The students have always protested against administrative failures. We have written letters to the ministry through years, but those were tossed aside. The delay in completion of the course has been going on since 2001.”

The controversy in nutshell

The FTII students went on a strike protesting the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairperson and four other members (out of eight) of the board. The reason stated was that the chairperson and the four members had strong Hindu right wing connection and didn’t have a body of work to justify their positions at FTII. The students’ body questioned the basis on which the appointments were made.

But gradually the 2008 batch of FTII emerged as the bone of contention, and it has been said that the students of this batch have been instrumental in the strike on the campus. And, this is the group of students virtually controlling the campus for seven years. When the institute’s director Prashant Pathrabe asked for an assessment of the projects of the 2008 batch students, he was gheraoed and it resulted in a midnight police crackdown in August. Five students were arrested and later released on bail.

Rahat Jain, a student of screenplay writing, justified the strike saying, “It is not just to oust a particular set of people but to strengthen the process. Regarding protests on appointments, if you go through the list of previous chairmen and FTII Society members, you will find them of a certain stature, repute and experience that is completely lacking in the current appointments. We have always reiterated that our strike is not against a particular government, but against the continuous negligence of the institute by successive governments that has now boiled over by the extent of the incapability of the latest appointments.”

Nationwide strike hits normal life, coal output; over 1000 arrested as violence hits WB

New Delhi: A day-long nationwide strike on Wednesday impacted normal life in various parts of the country with coal production, banking operations and transport services being hit the most, while violent clashes erupted in West Bengal resulting in arrest of over 1,000 persons.

Union leaders claimed that over 15 crore organised sector workers went on the strike, call for which was given by 10 central trade unions against changes in labour laws and PSU privatisation along with their other demands. The BJP-backed BMS and NFITU however stayed away from the strike.

The government, however, said that the call for strike did not have much impact in most parts of the country, even as it hinted at meeting the “aspirations” of the workers on nine out of their 12 demands.

The Labour Ministry further said in a statement that out of 12 central trade unions, two did not join the strike, three unions remained neutral and only seven unions went on strike.

The ten unions, however, said in a joint statement that the response to the strike call was “unprecedented” with “millions of workers” staying away from work.

Striking unions. PTI

Striking unions. PTI

Labour Ministry said the situation by and large remained normal and peaceful across the country and the government was positive on many of the workers’ demands without any pressure.

However, unions said the response was “unprecedented” with “millions of workers” staying away from the work.

The impact was most visible in West Bengal, Tripura, Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry and Odisha among other places, while partial impact was seen in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Gujarat, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Normal life was affected in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Rajasthan also, but there was not much impact in financial capital Mumbai except for banking services. Commodity markets remained closed in most part of the country.

Banking services were among the worst hit as 23 public sector banks, 12 private sector banks, 52 regional rural banks and over 13,000 cooperative banks joined the stir. However, staff at SBI, Indian Overseas Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank choose to stay away from the strike.

All India Bank Employees Association General Secretary C H Venkatachalam said nearly five lakh bank employees and officers joined the strike.

In West Bengal, over 1,000 persons were arrested from different parts after clashes occurred at some places between Left and Trinamool workers including in Murshidabad district.

Altogether 974 people were arrested in various districts and 50 others in the metropolis for trying to enforce bandh, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters in Kolkata.

Train services of South Eastern Railway and Eastern Railway were partially affected, but Metro Rail services in Kolkata remained normal.

Banerjee also said that “the bandh failed to evoke any response and state government offices in the city recorded 93 per cent attendance and 97 per cent in the districts”.

Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, who on Wednesday left for Turkey along with Labour Secretary Shankar Aggarwal for G-20 Meeting, had on Tuesday appealed to trade unions to call off the agitation in the interest of workers and nation.

The unions, however, decided to go ahead with the strike after their talks with a ministerial panel last month failed to yield desired results on their 12-point charter of demands.

The demands included urgent measures to rein in price rise, containing unemployment, strict enforcement of basic labour laws, universal social security cover for all workers and minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month.

They are also demanding higher pensions, stopping disinvestment in PSUs, ending contract system, removal of ceiling on bonus and provident fund, compulsory registration of trade unions within 45 days, no unilateral amendment to labour laws and stopping FDI in Railways and Defence.

State-run Coal India saw nearly half of its 1.7 million tonne daily production getting hit by the strike, as a majority of around four lakh coal workers across the country joined the strike. Union leaders, however, said the impact could be 90 per cent at Coal India, which accounts for 80 per cent of the country’s total coal production.

Power generation and other utilities were largely normal.

Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal said the strike would not have much impact as there was sufficient coal stock to meet any eventualities, while there was no problem at all with the electricity generation.

Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who was part of the group of ministers that held talks with the trade unions, said that the strike “by and large has not had any major impact”.

Expressing solidarity with the day-long nationwide strike called by 10 central trade unions, Congress on Wednesday blamed the government’s “utter apathy” for the workers’ agitation.

“It seems just as the Britishers wanted to benefit the East India Company at the expense of millions of labourers of this country, the Modi government wants to benefit 5-6 crony businessmen friends of this government”, the party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.

Business chambers including CII said in separate statements that “disruptive” practices like strikes would adversely impact the India’s image as an attractive business destination. Assocham in a statement that the total economic loss was estimated at Rs 25,000 crore from Wednesday’s strike.

All India Trade Union Congress Secretary D L Sachdev said that as many as five lakh industrial workers in Gurgaon region joined the strike. Workers did not turn up at Maruti Suzuki plant in Gurgaon while Honda Motorcycle plant remained closed.

“The strike has had an impact across the country and even in Delhi. In several areas, BMS people also joined the strike. Many local and affiliated unions have also joined in the strike,” All India Trade Union Congress General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said.

The ten trade unions said in their joint statement that the buses of state transport undertakings in Haryana, Delhi, Uttarkahand, Himachal, UP and some other states stayed off the road while “defence production came to a standstill” with about half a million ordnance factory and installation workers joining the strike.

Postal services as also state-run BSNL’s telecom operations were also affected. Workers of BJP-affiliated BMS, which decided not to join the strike, joined the strike in BSNL, the statement said.

Refuelling of airlines was also impacted even though there was no shutdown of any oil and gas facility anywhere in the country.

Operations at Mumbai Port Trust were completely stopped, but cargo handling at country’s largest container port JNPT across the harbour was only partially hit as operations continued in its two private terminals.

The strike also hit state-owned NMDC out as its iron ore production went down by 75,000 tonnes across all its mines with as many as 4,200 employees staying off work. Nearly 80 per cent of the 12,000 workforce of Visakhapatnam-based Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) also joined the stir.

There was not much impact at operations of state-run SAIL.

In Kerala, public and private buses, taxis and autos were off roads. Shops, hotels and even small tea stalls were closed in the state.

In Tripura, vehicles did not ply on roads and markets were closed. Financial and educational institutions were closed and attendance was thin in government offices too. The gates of ONGC facility and Tripura Jute Mill were closed.

In Karnataka, government transport workers also joined the strike to protest against proposed motor bill. Buses and autorickshaws kept off the roads causing inconvenience to office goers and those travelling to far of places.

While impact of strike was visible in Puducherry, Tamil Nadu was largely unaffected.

Banking and public transport services were partially affected in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

In Goa, streets were deserted as private buses and the state transport buses remained off the roads.

The banking, transport and other services were hit in various parts of Rajasthan as well.

PTI

Mixed response in Goa; strike hits markets, transport

“The strike was successful. We are happy with the response of the people. It was a voluntary response,” Suhas Naik, Convenor, Goa Convention of Workers and All Goa Transport Operators Associations told PTI.

Representational image: Commuters wait for transportC

AFP
The strike call given by ten central trade unions on Wednesday evoked a mixed response in Goa disrupting markets and transport services in several parts of the state, while many cities remained completely shut.The day began with public transport remaining completely off the roads, but later government managed to convince state-run Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited (KTCL) to ply buses on main routes, trying to bring back normalcy.Schools, banks, insurance firms and markets remained closed in towns like Mapusa, Vasco, Ponda, Valpoi, Sanguem, Sanvordem, Bicholim, Mercel and others.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The strike was successful. We are happy with the response of the people. It was a voluntary response,” Suhas Naik, Convenor, Goa Convention of Workers and All Goa Transport Operators Associations told PTI.Fish and vegetable markets across the state also remained closed due to scarcity of supply.”Trucks laden with vegetables which arrive from neighbouring states did not come today. Since there was no fresh stock, we preferred to close the shops,” said Sohan Bepari, a vegetable vendor in Panaji market.Similar was the situation with fish vendors, who did not turn out this morning.”Of the total 354 buses in the fleet, around 300 were on the roads. We serviced all the nationalised routes and important links,” KTCL Managing Director Derrik Nato said.He said couple of KTCL buses were also stoned by protestors, but actual details were awaited.As industrial estates remained closed, protestors were seen demonstrating across the national highways today.Police managed to break open the barricade at highway near Margao town, while several agitators were arrested on the highway near Verna village.”The situation is now much peaceful. We have made some arrests in the industrial estate,” said Superintendent of Police (South) Shekhar Prabhudesai.Taxi services in the state was also affected as vehicles were withdrawn since midnight.”Taxis from airport and railway stations were withdrawn since last night. Not a single taxi was plying from morning,” Secretary, North Goa Tourist Taxi Owners Association, Vinayak Nanoskar said.However, BJP workers were on the road to ensure that the strike is not successful. Several workers in the towns like Sankhalim, 45 kms away from here, managed to convice the shopkeepers not to join the strike.”The strike is not successful. The life is normal in places like Sankhalim and neighbouring areas,” claimed BJP leader and Sankhalim MLA Pramod Sawant.

Strike hits normal life; Bengal, Kerala among most affected

Normal working at banks was affected as 23 public sector banks, 12 private sector banks, 52 regional rural banks and over 13,000 cooperative banks have joined the stir except SBI, IOB, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank who choose to stay away from the strike

Police try to close the gate of a police van as arrested trade union activists try it open during a protest in Kolkata on September 2, 2015.

AFP
Normal life was affected in various parts of the country, including West Bengal, Tripura, Kerala and Karnataka, as 10 central trade unions today went on a day-long nationwide strike to protest against changes in labour laws and privatisation of PSUs.Trade union leaders claimed that around 15 crore formal sector workers are on strike in support of their 12-point charter of demands. BJP-backed BMS and NFITU however stayed away from the strike.The strike affected transport, banking operations and other services in various parts of the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Normal working at banks was affected as 23 public sector banks, 12 private sector banks, 52 regional rural banks and over 13,000 cooperative banks have joined the stir except SBI, IOB, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank who choose to stay away from the strike.Over half of the 10 lakh banking sector workers have gone on strike, All India Bank Employees Association General Secretary C H Venkatachalam said.Cases of small skirmishes were reported in West Bengal and National Capital Region among other places In Kolkata, partial impact was seen on suburban trains while shops, markets and business establishments in most areas remained closed.State administration was plying a large fleet of public buses while partial impact was seen on operations of private buses and taxis.In the National Capital, commuters faced problems as a large number of autos and taxis remained off the roads.In Kerala, public and private bus services, taxis and autorickshaws were off the roads. Only private cars and two wheelers were seen on the roads. Shops, hotels and even small tea stalls were closed in the state.In Tripura, vehicles did not ply on the roads, while markets were closed. Banks and other financial institutions, schools and colleges were closed and attendance was thin in government offices as well.The entrance gates of ONGC facility and the Tripura Jute Mill were closed.In Karnataka, government transport workers also joined the strike objecting to the proposed motor bill. Buses and autorickshaws kept off the roads causing inconvenience to office goers and those travelling to far of places.While impact of strike was visible in Puducherry, Tamil Nadu was largely unaffected.Several services like public transport were partially affected in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. Commuters faced a lot of difficulties, though private buses plied on their route. Bank customers faced inconvenience.All India Trade Union Congress Secretary D L Sachdev said in Gurgaon that as many as five lakh industrial workers have gone on strike there.He also said that workers did not turn up at Maruti Suzuki plant today due to agitation and even Rajasthan Roadways employees are in strike. Honda Motorcycle and Scooter plant in Manesar remained closed.”The strike has had an impact across the country and even in Delhi. In several areas BMS people also joined the strike.Many local and affiliated unions have also joined in the strike,” All India Trade Union Congress General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said.He added: “The strike shows how much people are disenchanted with the anti-worker policy of the government and its failure to contain food prices as well as its failure to contain the economic slowdown.”In Goa, streets were deserted in the morning as private buses and the state-run Kadamba Transport Corporation Ltd (KTCL) buses remained off the roads.In Delhi, people were seen waiting for hours for autorickshaws in several parts of the city, and public services like metro and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses witnessed surge in number of passengers. People headed for offices, schools and colleges this morning were impacted.In Odisha, train services were disrupted for some time at several places as protesters blocked tracks near railway stations like Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Bhadrak, Chhatrapur and Khalikot, East Coast Railway. Around 10 trains were delayed leaving passengers stranded at various places.The government yesterday appealed to trade unions to call off the agitation in the interest of workers and nation. The unions however decided to go ahead with strike as their talks with a ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley last month did not make any headway on their 12-point charter of demands.Their demands includes urgent measures to rein in price rise, contain unemployment, strictly enforce basic labour laws, provide universal social security cover for all workers and minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month.They are also demanding higher pensions, stoppage of disinvestment in PSUs, ending contractorisation, removal of ceiling on bonus and provident fund, compulsory registration of trade unions within 45 days, no amendment to labour laws unilaterally and stopping FDI in Railways and Defence.

West Bengal, Tripura, Kerala affected as 10 central trade unions go on strike

New Delhi: Normal life was affected in various parts of the country, including West Bengal, Tripura, Kerala and Karnataka, as 10 central trade unions went on a day-long nationwide strike on Wednesday to protest against changes in labour laws and privatisation of PSUs.

Trade union leaders claimed that around 15 crore formal sector workers are on strike in support of their 12-point charter of demands. BJP-backed BMS and NFITU however stayed away from the strike.

Image courtesy: IbnliveImage courtesy: Ibnlive

Image courtesy: Ibnlive

The strike affected transport, banking operations and other services in various parts of the country.

Normal working at banks was affected as 23 public sector banks, 12 private sector banks, 52 regional rural banks and over 13,000 cooperative banks have joined the stir except SBI, IOB, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank who choose to stay away from the strike.

Over half of the 10 lakh banking sector workers have gone on strike, All India Bank Employees Association General Secretary CH Venkatachalam said.

Cases of small skirmishes were reported in West Bengal and National Capital Region among other places

In Kolkata, partial impact was seen on suburban trains while shops, markets and business establishments in most areas remained closed.

State administration was plying a large fleet of public buses while partial impact was seen on operations of private buses and taxis.

In the National Capital, commuters faced problems as a large number of autos and taxis remained off the roads.

In Kerala, public and private bus services, taxis and autorickshaws were off the roads. Only private cars and two wheelers were seen on the roads. Shops, hotels and even small tea stalls were closed in the state.

In Tripura, vehicles did not ply on the roads, while markets were closed. Banks and other financial institutions, schools and colleges were closed and attendance was thin in government offices as well.

The entrance gates of ONGC facility and the Tripura Jute Mill were closed.

In Karnataka, government transport workers also joined the strike objecting to the proposed motor bill. Buses and autorickshaws kept off the roads causing inconvenience to office goers and those travelling to far of places.

While impact of strike was visible in Puducherry, Tamil Nadu was largely unaffected.

PTI

BMS opts out of September 2 labour strike

The BMS, on Friday, was present during a meeting of all the 11 central trade unions and according to sources, they suggested that the strike be deferred.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) announced on Saturday to opt out of the proposed September 2 strike that was jointly called by eleven central trade unions, deciding to give more time to the BJP led government on issues pertaining to improvement in labour policies. The BMS, on Friday, was present during a meeting of all the 11 central trade unions and according to sources, they suggested that the strike be deferred. But it was opposed and the other unions – CITU, BMS, INTUC, AITUC, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF – and their affiliates will go ahead with the strike.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The government has said that it will amend key laws and it needs time to do that. They have come forward with a positive assurance and we decided to opt out of the strike because of that. As for the other unions especially those affiliated to left parties, they want to continue in their confrontationist methods,” said Vrijesh Upadhyay against the government’s economic and labour policies.The central trade unions had presented a 12-point charter of demands to the government that included rollback of amendments made to the labour laws and nullifying controversial amendments from the Land Bill, 2015. The unions are also opposing privatization in railways, insurance and defence while also demanding universal public distribution system and increasing minimum wages. The Prime Minister appointed an inter-ministerial committee comprising of Arun Jaitley, Bandaru Dattatreya, Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal and Jitendra Singh. The committee had three rounds of meetings with the trade unions but failed to break ground. AK Padmanabhan, president, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, told dna, “The government has given very vague assurances and we saw no reason to defer the strike.

Parl panel raps Defence Ministry for raising Mountain Strike corps

Committee has been repeatedly pointing out the “serious” shortages in various “operational” areas.

Committee has been repeatedly pointing out the “serious” shortages in various “operational” areas.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Thursday rapped the Defence Ministry for “milking existing resources” to raise a mountain strike corps aimed at countering China. The Committee on Defence also pulled up the ministry for a host of deficiencies, including the delay in the Light Combat Aircraft project, shortage of tanks, missiles and bullet-proof jackets among others. “The Committee is constrained to note that the raising of Mountain Strike Corps was commended utilising War Wastage Reserves (WWR), which are war reserves and not to be touched otherwise,” its report said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Keeping in mind the importance of the Mountain Strike Corps to counter advance of neighbouring countries at high altitude area, the Committee had desired the Ministry to do away with its “proclivity of ad-hoc” planning and provide adequate budgetary support commensurate with the requirement of the new formation, it added. The action taken report says that the replies given by the Ministry convey that Mountain Strike Corps is being raised only as per availability of budget. “The Committee contemplated over the whole scenario including the raising of Mountain Strike Corps from WWR and take a very serious view on milking of existing resources. As there are already serious shortage in the current WWR, which does not even cater fully to existing demand, how could it can be further milked to create new assets like Mountain Strike Corps,” the report questioned.It added that the Committee has been repeatedly pointing out the “serious” shortages in various “operational” areas. However, it appears that the matter is not being given due consideration that it deserves. “The Committee deplore the casual approach of the Ministry in treating their recommendation. The Committee, therefore, reiterate their earlier recommendation to provide separate allocation as well as separate set of modernised weapons for raising of Mountain Strike Corps, which is essential for protecting our borders in high altitude areas,” the report said.

Around 4,500 doctors in Maharashtra warn of indefinite strike from 2 July

Mumbai: As many as 4,500 resident doctors, attached to 18 government medical colleges in Maharashtra, have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from 2 July in support of their demands, including increase in stipend.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Sagar Mundada, President of the Central Board of Maharashtra Resident Doctors – the association that has called the strike – said their demands include hike in stipend, strict implementation of the Doctors Protection Act, two-month maternity leave for female doctors and fixed working hours, among others.

All resident doctors on Wednesday will perform their duties wearing black ribbons as a mark of protest and launch an indefinite strike from 2 July, he said.

Mundada said while treating TB patients, if a doctor contracts the illness, he/she would get six months leave.

He said resident doctors have been demanding that they be relieved from the mandatory bond service (to work in rural areas) if there is no vacancy for them within a month after completing the MD degree.

Mundada said during the bond service, resident doctors should be given duties in area of their specialisation.

PTI

Mumbai crawls thanks to one-day auto, taxi strike; but there’s going to be a repeat on Wednesday

Mumbai: Incessant rainfall in the financial capital combined with a day-long strike organised by auto-rickshaw and taxis drivers threw normal life out gear in the city leaving many commuters stranded on Monday.

Water-logging was reported across the city and suburbs, and disrupted traffic across the city. Worst hit were school students who were inconvenienced as the school term for many began from Monday.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The strike of taxis and autorickshaws was a result of a protest organised by Congress MLA Nitesh Rane-led Swabhiman Union to voice its protest against cab aggregators like Uber and Ola.

“This is just a day long strike. So far, we have not received any response from the government. The BJP led state government is functioning like Hitler. They don’t have time to hear the grievances of the public. We are planning to further intensify the strike with rasta roko or other methods in coming days,” KK Tiwari, Mumbai President of Swabhiman Union, told Firstpost.

Tiwari added that he was detained by the Mumbai police late night on Sunday and was let off on Monday afternoon to ensure that there was no deterioration of law and order in the city.

On 9 June, the union had written to Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and state transport minister Diwakar Raote demanding a ban on all mobile-based cab services such as Ola, Uber, Meru Plus and Genie cabs in the city.

“We have received the information from transport department that these private taxi aggregators do not have any permits. They are not even registered with the transport department. Despite this, the private taxi aggregators, who have tourist permits, are plying their cabs on local routes and is completely illegal,” the letter stated, adding that no action has been taken on them despite repeated complaints.

AL Quadros, who leads the biggest taxi union in the city said they were opposed to the strike and appealed all taxis and autos to come out ‘fearlessly’.

“The Swabhiman union has vandalized over 150 taxis since morning and have also threatened others taxi drivers not to ply their taxis,” Quadros said, adding that cases are being registered at different police stations.

Police officials said that the appropriate action will be taken if it was found that taxis and autos have been vandalized by any group forcing them to participate in today’s strike.

However, Mumbaikars will have to brace for another day-long strike of autos and taxis on Wednesday as another taxi union has called for a bandh for the same reasons. The Shashank Rao-led Mumbai Automen’s Union has also called for a strike on 17 June demanding a ban on private taxi aggregators and seeking action on vehicles that can be called through call centres and minibuses.

“It will be a token strike. The state government should look into our demands and take appropriate measures to resolve the issues. It’s affecting our businesses,” Rao said.

Bus driver’s murder: DTC drivers continue strike in Delhi, demand Rs 1 crore compensation

Hundreds of thousands of commuters in the national capital will be hit for a second straight day as Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) staff has refused to relent and will continue their strike to protest against the killing of a driver by a biker in an incident of road rage.

While some DTC buses in South Delhi and East Delhi are plying, there is a complete strike in North and Rural Delhi. Only 1000 of 4500 DTC buses are plying, CNN IBN reported.

DTC driver Ashok Kumar (42) was beaten to death on Sunday allegedly by a youth after his bus grazed the latter’s bike in Mundka area of west Delhi. The police have arrested the motorcyclist for the attack and his mother for instigating the attack.

Screengrab from CNN IBNScreengrab from CNN IBN

Screengrab from CNN IBN

Continuing their protest today, the drivers have asserted that DTC buses will not ply on roads till their demands are met. Even though they have announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the victim’s family, the drivers are demanding Rs one crore as compensation and a job to one of the relatives of the deceased.

The AAP government threatened to take action, but the agitating staffers refused to budge. The Delhi government also said it would bear the cost of education of the victim’s daughter.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi has clamped Essential Services Maintenance Act against the agitating staff.

“Under provision of ESMA, services of striking employees will be terminated if they don’t turn up for work. If any employee disrupts government work then they can be arrested also,” a senior official said. The governemnt has said that arrangement for more buses is being made to facilitate the passengers.

The AAP government further blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party for not only politicising the issue, but also for the strike.

“BJP is doing politics over the issue. BJP has provoked DTC workers to go on strike. We held a meeting with the police officials and have decided to give security to DTC employees who want to operate the buses,” said Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai.

“The strike not genuine, the BJP has provoked DTC workers to go on strike. We held a meeting with the police officials and have decided to give security to DTC employees. We have decided that the next of his relative will be given a permanent job in DTC,” Rai said.

Earlier, the BJP held a candle light march from Parliament Street to Jantar Mantar demanding justice for the deceased bus driver and asked the Delhi government to increase the compensation to Rs.1 crore. Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay gave Rs.5 lakh to the driver’s family.

Family members of the deceased driver have denied that they are being influenced by any party.

“We got to know on Sunday itself about it and then we came here and have been camping here ever since. There is no politics over the issue. We aren’t here under pressure of any party. We are here on our own. We want one crore compensation and permanent job for his son and why can’t government accept our demands. We won’t take the body till the government accepts our demand. More people from our village will join us,” victim’s son Ajay Chikara told CNN- IBN.

“We will not cremate the body till our demands are met. Gopal Rai met us and offered us compensation and then we had told him that we won’t accept this but he didn’t assure us anything,” his brother Satyanarayan told CNN-IBN.

On Monday, most of the DTC’s 4,705 buses went off the roads, with hundreds of drivers and conductors massing at the 45 depots spread across the city, shouting slogans. A small fleet of buses which plied proved inadequate for the nearly 40 lakh people who use the DTC daily to commute, forcing them to largely turn to the already-crowded Delhi Metro. In fact, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) witnessed record crowds.

“The average ridership at 8 p.m. on Monday is 21 lakh, but today it was 22.92 lakh, an increase of 1.92 lakh,” a DMRC statement said.

The strike also affected DTC operations in the neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

With inputs from IANS

Coal workers’ strike ends, government rules out denationalisation of Coal India Limited

Coal workers’ trade unions on Wednesday night called off their two-day old nationwide strike after reaching an agreement with the government, which ruled out denationalisation of Coal India Ltd (CIL) and promised to protect interests of the PSU’s employees.”There is no intention for denationalisation of CIL. The present and future interest of CIL employees will not be affected in any manner. CIL will be protected and there need be no apprehension about its ownership,” Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal told reporters here. CIL chief Suthirtha Bhattacharya said the strike is off with immediate effect. The five-day strike, which started on Tuesday, was called by all five major trade unions, including BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, protesting against “disinvestment in Coal India and denationalisation of coal mining”.The stir by about five lakh coal workers had caused an estimated production loss of Rs 300 crore and even raised fears of possible power crisis. The breakthrough came after a six-hour-long marathon meeting between Goyal, unions and CIL officials. Goyal said: “Unions had expressed their apprehensions. Government is seriously looking into their concerns. We have put our views before the union leaders that under what circumstances the ordinance (for coal auction) was brought.”Our intention was development of the sector, bringing in transparency in future coal block allocations through e-auctions and ensuring employees welfare. “Eastern region will specially benefit where these coal mines are located. We have considered welfare provisions regarding workers, their security, housing and other aspects.” The Minister further said that CIL’s one billion tonne production target by 2019 is achievable. “The strike has been called off,” AITUC leader Lakhan Lal Mahato said after a meeting. Indian National Mineworkers’ Federation (INTUC) President Rajendra Singh also confirmed that the strike has ended”The discussions have been successful,” Goyal said, while adding that a committee will be set up to look into all the concerns of the workers. “I put forward many points to the union leaders, among them were assurances were about safety and security of the workmen, both of Coal India and those workers working in their mines which have been cancelled and are going for auction or allotments,” he said. The talks had resumed on Wednesday after a meeting between Coal Secretary Anil Swarup and union leaders failed to yield any results last night to end the strike — which is being billed as the biggest industrial action in nearly four decades.CIL Chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya was also present in today’s negotiations. Earlier in the day, top officials from states, including in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, had expressed apprehensions that power supplies may be hit if the strike continues further, while executives at power companies also said they may run out of the emergency fuel supplies if coal production remained stalled.Officials said the strike impacted over 75% of the daily coal output of 1.5 million tonnes, with 290 out of 438 CIL coal mines being hit in two days of the strike.There were reports of clashes between workers and police in Jharkhand and West Bengal. There were concerns that the strike may severely hit fuel supply to over 100 thermal power plants across the country, as the emergency coal arrangements may not last long. Unions had also alleged that CIL management was trying to bring in temporary workers to operate the 290 shut mines.After yesterday’s failed conciliatory talks, which continued till late in night, the workers’ representatives had said they wanted political leadership to come to the negotiating table. CIL could produce only about 0.2 million tonnes on Wednesday, while it was 0.22 million tonnes on Tuesday. Production was also hit at Singareni Collieries mines that produces around 0.1 million tonnes a day. Industry bodies, including Assocham and PHD Chamber, earlier in the day said that the strike could impact industrial growth across the country, especially in power-deficient northern and southern regions, resulting in long unplanned outages.

As talks fail coal-miner strike halts 75% mines

About 5 lakh coal workers across the country on Tuesday went on a five-day strike, hitting 75% production, including of Coal India, and may also impact fuel supply to power plants. Negotiations spanning over four hours till late in the national capital between government officials and union representatives failed to end the strike and the workers said they will continue the strike, which is being billed as the biggest industrial action since 1977.”Out of the total production of 1.5 million tonnes a day, nearly 75% has been hit,” a senior official said, adding that the union leaders were “adamant” on their stand.The industrial action is in protest against ‘disinvestment and restructuring of state-run Coal India’ and to press for demands including the roll-back of what unions call “process of denationalising of coal sector”. When asked whether a power crisis was imminent, Power Minister Goyal said, “I don’t think so”. The minister, who also holds Coal Ministry portfolio, also indicated that he may meet union leaders on Wednesday.Claiming that over 5 lakh coal industry workers across the country have gone off-work, union leaders said they are open to negotiations at ‘political’ level, including with the Prime Minister or the Coal Minister. On its first day itself, the strike is estimated to have caused production losses to the tune of Rs 70 crore in first two shifts of the day, officials told PTI.The strike call has been given by all five leading trade unions of the country, including the BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS). The industrial action is in protest against ‘disinvestment and restructuring of state-run Coal India’ and to press for demands including the roll-back of what they call as “process of denationalising of coal sector”.The Labour Ministry said in a statement that the strike has affected the working of CIL and its subsidiaries, as also the mines of Singareni Collieries Co Ltd. The strike, joined by all five major trade unions – BMS, INTUC, AITUC, CITU and HMS — is also likely to affect fuel supply to power plants, which are already grappling with fuel shortages. CIL accounts for over 80% of domestic coal production.Coming out of late-night talks, Indian National Mineworkers’ Federation (INTUC) Secretary General SQ Zama told PTI, “Negotiations at the secretary-level have failed, but we are open for discussions at political level, at the level of Prime Minister or Coal Minister.”We did our best to arrive at an amicable solution, but the (Coal) Secretary has his own limitations. Around five lakh workers, including 3.5 lakh from CIL, are on strike.” CIL Chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya, who assumed charge on Monday itself, said that he was hopeful that the situation would be resolved in an amicable manner.

Coal trade unions begin 5-day strike as country grapples with fuel shortage

Trade unions today began a five-day coal industry strike, terming it as the biggest industrial action for any sector since 1977. The unions have gone on strike to protest against ‘disinvestment and restructuring of state-run Coal India’ and to press for their other demands including the roll-back of what they call as “process of denationalising of coal sector”.While All India Coal Workers Federation leader Jibon Roy said in a statement that about seven lakh workers are joining the strike, the government has also called a meeting today with representatives of major trade unions – BMS, INTUC, AITUC, CITU and HMS — to sort out the issue. The strike can affect coal production of up to 1.5 million tonnes a day and may also hit supplies to power plants which are already grappling with fuel shortages.”We are hopeful the situation would be resolved in an amicable manner. The precise impact of the strike would be known later and it would be premature to predict (the impact) at this juncture,” Coal India’s newly appointed chairman Sutirtha Bhattacharya told PTI. “It is true that production picks up tempo in the last quarter, as the closure of fiscal draws near. It is unfortunate that the unions have called the strike. We have appealed to them to withdraw the strike in national interest and even now our efforts are on to persuade them to refrain from going into strike,” he said.The trade unions have boycotted earlier meeting called by the government twice. “The workers across the nation have proceeded on strike,” Indian National Mineworkers’ Federation (INMF) Secretary General SQ Zama said, while adding that the strike began from the first shift starting 6 am today.”Almost 100% of Coal India (CIL) workers are participating in the agitation. Only handful of emergency services are continuing,” he said, while adding that around 70-80% of SCCL (Singareni Collieries Company Ltd) workers are also protesting. A Coal India official said “there is picketing outside CIL headquarters in Kolkata as of now.” The protest comes at a time when the power plants across the country are grappling with fuel shortages. Coal India Ltd had earlier said that it has already stepped up supplies of the power plants, which have been facing fuel shortages, to tide over the likely disruption of supplies due to the strike.”CIL is suppling extra volumes of coal to the power plants and the Railways is fully cooperating with the coal PSU,” an official had said yesterday. CIL, which accounts for over 80% of domestic coal production, has a workforce of over 3 lakh. All five major trade unions of the coal PSU had boycotted a meeting called by Coal Minister Piyush Goyal last week. Meanwhile, electricity workers union EEFI has also extended its support to the strike call.