People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 15

April 10, 2005

Successful Two-Day Strike In General Insurance


MORE than 70,000 employees and officers of the four public sector general insurance companies viz. United India Insurance Co., National Insurance Co., Oriental Insurance Co. and New India Assurance Co., the Agriculture Insurance Co. of India Ltd., Tariff Advisory Committee and Loss Prevention Association of India observed two days strike on March 23-24, in response to the call given by the recognised unions in the industry.


The demands for which the employees and officers went on strike included settlement of the long-pending wage revision which fell due on August 2002 and resumption of promotion exercise withheld for two years. More than 4,000 operating offices of these public sector companies across the country, including the head office of National Insurance Co. at Kolkata remained closed on these two days as over 70,000 officers and employees joined the strike. The successful observance of the strike has sent strong signals to the authorities concerned that the employees and officers would not rest until their demands were met.


Earlier, demonstrations were held every week which were enthusiastically participated by the officers and employees in all the centres. Deputations were submitted to the CMDs of the companies to drive home the point that they could not shirk their responsibility in finding an early and amicable settlement of the issues. The representatives of the unions met the four CMDs at Hyderabad on March 16 when they attended a meeting in IRDA.


The success of the two days strike on March 23 and 24 could be measured in the context of threats by the management of punitive action and attempts  to break the strike by calling the police in some centers.  The management  also made some of the groups to issue calls to their supporters to break the strike by spreading rumours and characterising the strike as ‘politically motivated’. What political motivation could be there in asking for early settlement of the long-pending wage revision and release of the due promotions, wondered the employees. But the disrupters had no qualms to use any method to disrupt the democratic expression of anger and anguish. “It is heartening to note that in spite of threats and attempted disruption of the strike, most of the offices, including head office of National Insurance Co. Ltd.. Kolkata remained closed on both these days; it speaks volumes about the  employees’ indignation to the indifferent attitude of the authorities on their core demands” said J Gurumurthy, secretary, All India Insurance Employees’ Assiciation (AIIEA) which spearheaded the joint movement. The unions would be meeting shortly to chalk out further course of action to compel the authorities to break the deadlock in wage talks and promotions, he said.


The strike had its echo in parliament on March 23 when CPI(M) leader in Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia and other Left MPs brought to the attention of the government the on-going strike in general insurance and demanded early settlement of the wage demands.