Left vs Mamata: Feb 28 showdown imminent?

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Kolkata:  The Mamata Banerjee government is heading for a confrontation with 11 trade unions over the nationwide general strike called by them on February 28.

Left parties are supporting the strike call and West Bengal at least is likely to be completely paralysed that day. But the state government has issued a circular saying no leave will be granted to employees on the day of the strike.

"We have written to the Chief Minister protesting the illegal government order. We have told her to withdraw the illegal circular. If that happens good. Even otherwise, the strike will take place," said Ananta Bandopadhyay, Left employees union leader.

"This circular where it is clearly stated that any government employee will not be allowed to take leave, is inhuman, illegal and against Constitution," said Shankit Chakraborty, from Congress employees union.

But the Mamata government has taken a tough stand against the strike. Not only has it banned leave on February 28, its ministers have warned that those absent could face break in service which means cut in pay, seniority and pension.

"Those who don't come that day, could face discontinuation of service. That has been said clearly and the government will decide on the reasons for leave. Leave cut and salary cut is there. They may even lose seniority," said Madan Mitra, the Transport Minister.

The Left and Congress trade union INTUC, has condemned the move. But not Trinamool unions.

"If anybody cannot come, if the reason is sufficient then his case will be considered. I think this government is more democratic," said Shobhandeb Chattopadhyay, Trinamool union leader.

Given the sharp divisions, the run-up to February 28 is getting increasingly turbulent that could trigger serious trouble.



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