Over 30,000 workers from different sectors and states gathered at Parliament Street on the first day of the mass relay dharna called by central trade unions to press for their 12-point charter of demands, the organisers said today. "There was a very encouraging response to our call for three-day mass dharna at Parliament Street today on the first day. Over 30,000 workers from different sectors and states joined the protest," All India Trade Union Congress National Secretary Amarjeet Kaur told PTI. She said that the workers started assembling at 8:30 am and within in few hours, Parliament Street was jam-packed till Bank of Baroda building near Connaught Place. The 10 central trade unions have called the 'relay dharna' saying this is in protest against anti-worker, anti- people and anti-national policies of the central government. Meanwhile, a faction of the Trade Unions Coordination Centre said in a statement that it has "withdrawn from misdirected dharna" of central trade unions. Commenting on this, Kaur said, "It is one faction of TUCC which has withdrawn from the dharna.
But the other faction of the union controlled by All India Forward Block is supporting us. A large number of workers from West Bengal also participated in the dharna." Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar had called the central trade unions on Tuesday to persuade them to call off dharna, saying the government is committed to a tripartite mechanism for labour reforms. Yesterday, the unions made it clear in their press conference that they would go ahead with the mass relay dharna because Gangwar could not bring anything substantial on the table during their four-hour long meeting on Tuesday. The unions had also said that since August 2015, the ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not have a word on their 12-point charter of demands and now after three years, they are left with no other alternative but to choose the path of struggle to safeguard workers' rights.