- JOINT ACTION COMMITTEE PREPARES FOR INDEFINITE STRIKE
A meeting of the full Joint Action Committee was held at Bombay on 29th May 1960 presided over by V.G.Dalvi, Chairman. S.Madhusudan, E.X.Joseph, K.M.Nair (Confederation), K.G.Shreevastava, P.C.Banerjee, J.Jambusamy, D.Lobo, K.M.Mathews (AIDEF), Gopal Singh Josh, Chandrasekhar, K.Ramamoorthy, P.S.R.Anjaneyulu, O.P.Gupta (NFPTE), V.R.Malagi, Umraomal Purohit, Amaresh Sen, B.P.Roy Choudhury, J.P.Chaubey, R.C.Chakraborty, Sathyan Kar (AIRF) along with JAC Secretary Peter Alvares participated. All of them were well known and respected leaders of their respective organizations.
The meeting gave call to form Joint Action Committees at all levels as part of the preparation for strike and to organize meetings to explain the decision to go on strike and the demands. To meet urgently on emergent matters, a small committee was formed with Peter Alvares (SG AIRF), S.M.Joshi (SG AIDEF), D.S.Rajaratnam (SG Confederation) and P.S.R.Anjaneyulu (NFPTE).
Although the JAC had requested for a meeting with the Prime Minister, it was intimated that since the Prime Minister is proceeding to the Common Wealth Conference, no time can be fixed to meet the unions. Considering this fact and other points, the date of the indefinite strike was postponed from 19th June to midnight of 11/12 July 1960. The reply received after the return of Prime Minister from the Conference was very much disappointing. It was stated that the Pay Commission report is treated as an award and hence no change can be made. Hence it was added that there will be no use in a discussion with the unions. It was suggested in the letter that the unions can discuss the issues with their respective departmental authorities, but it was of no use as the matters were of a general nature and no department can take independent decisions. Probably in giving such a reply, the Prime Minister might have been irritated by the formation of the JAC and the strike decision.
The reply from the Prime Minister denying any discussion with the unions created a tense situation. Workers became angry that the Prime Minister was not even prepared to discuss the demands with their leaders. They considered this as a great injustice. There was no scope for any further discussion, since the Prime Minister himself has closed the doors for negotiation. Even those leaders who had asked for some more time for the strike realized that strike was the only way. The reports received from the thousands of branches were also for an immediate strike.
The JAC which was held at New Delhi on 23rd June 1960, called upon all the Federations / Unions to issue notice for strike on 25th June. The government may try to take all steps to crush the strike and victimize the workers and hence all preparations are required to defend the workers, advised the JAC.
The JAC gave letters seeking support and solidarity to AITUC, INTUC and HMS, which were the then National Trade Union Centres.
Strike notice was served on 25th June itself to the departmental heads by all Federations and Unions which are part of the JAC, along with the Charter of Demands for settlement of which the strike call is given. Workers started preparation for the strike, keeping away doubts and fears.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru intervened at this stage and directed Labour Minister Gulzarilal Nanda to meet the unions and discuss the issues. The latter met and discussed the issues with the leaders of the JAC at his official residence. Though there was some improvement in the discussion on Negotiating Machinery, Social Security, Service conditions etc. , there was no meeting ground on the most important issues of Dearness Allowance and Minimum Wage. Naturally, the negotiation failed.
Immediately the JAC met, reviewed the discussion and connected matters and decided to proceed with full preparations for the strike. It called upon the workers to make the strike a big success by full participation. The bugle has been sounded. The strike became inevitable. (To be continued).