Paralysing the country

Is’nt this contempt of court? Unless India is able to shake off the perverse forces that have plagued its labour relations, the manufacturing sector’s nascent growth is going to dampen and die pretty quickly. It is strange that trade unions affiliated to the Communists and Left parties are able to hold so many people to ransom while they cant muster up any numbers in parliament. After all, if the Left is so very concerned about a Supreme Court ruling, the right way to do it is for people to exercise their will through Parliament.

Millions of workers from the government, financial and industrial sectors will go on strike on Tuesday to protest over a Supreme Court ruling against work stoppages, union officials said on Monday.

Union leaders said workers ranging from bank employees to electricians and civil servants would wear black badges and hold rallies outside offices.

“It will paralyse the country as some of the major industrial unions will be joining us,” Tapan Sen, spokesman for the leftist Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), told Reuters.[Indian Express]

While the reality may be that this strike does’nt cause much damage on the ground, the rhetoric is enough to pull Shining India a few notches down. Marxism is dead, China is embracing Jiang’s “advanced productive forces” and the “three represents” – have’nt India’s communists read the news recently?

Update: Y R K Reddy sums up the case well in the Indian Express (2 Mar)

By mixing up the economic agenda, unions are asking the common man to sacrifice for a cause that is divergent with his needs and interests. This is not the Independence struggle that binds all sections together due to a common pain. In a way, the common man is being forced to subsidise the pursuit of an agenda whose beneficiaries and the extent of benefit are amorphous.

Interestingly, trade unions around the world have begun to rediscover themselves and are launching upon activities that engage the workers directly. From being political movements, they are tending to be member-centered organisations. They are seeking to engage their members in several ways to sustain their interest and commitment by providing direct welfare than the sale of dreams, visions and mixed up political agenda. For instance, the TUC in the UK has launched a project by which it is able to intermediate in knowledge management, and training/learning projects of the company. The place of the shop steward is getting contested by the activities of the learning agents of the unions themselves.

Instead of the frail rhetoric on protecting a right under doubtful conditions, it would be better if the unions repositioned themselves to be more meaningful to the workers and separate their political agenda — they will gain more respect and support both from the members as well as the society [Indian Express]