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Meeting between union leaders, ministers fails; Two-day strike from midnight

Meeting between union leaders, ministers fails; Two-day strike from midnight

New Delhi: A meeting between central trade union leaders and senior ministers failed here on Monday night with the unions refusing to accept the government's appeal to postpone their two-day call for strike from February 20.

The trade unions said the committee headed by Defence Minister A K Antony failed to give them any concrete proposal and not a single demand made by them was accepted by it.

"The strike is on... They are only asking for time. They say they will study the demand and will give proper reply or take necessary action later on... We said it is not possible, there should be some concrete decision over demands of the workers," INTUC President G Sanjeeva Reddy told reporters.

The two-hour long meeting was attended by representatives of all the 11 trade unions which have given the strike call.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had yesterday appealed to the unions to call off their strike as it would cause loss to the economy besides inconvenience to the people and had offered talks.

The Prime Minister had requested his senior Cabinet colleagues A K Antony, Sharad Pawar, P Chidambaram and Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge to hold discussions with them.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram could not attend the meeting because of ongoing budget meetings. The meeting took place in Antony's office in the Defence Ministry here.

Reddy also said that the government failed to offer "any alternative" to their call for strike.

"If no demand is settled and no concrete assurance is given, it is very difficult for the trade unions to withdraw or postpone the strike," he said. Asked what were the offers made by the government to the unions, he said, "No offer, they wanted more time. We said we have already given two years time. We placed the demands three years before, so three years time we already gave...So there is no question of giving more time."

He said the government could not give any concrete assurance on any one single demand. "Therefore, we are sticking to our strike" call, he said.


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