Bharat Bandh was initiated by Trade union leaders on Wednesday (08.01 2020) and had claimed that the government has failed to deal with the challenges posed by a crisis-ridden economy and in place of that is busy in privatising and selling public sector units (PSUs).
In several states including Bengal, Odisha and Tamil Nadu, rail and road traffic was hit as a 24-hour nationwide strike by ten trade unions against the central government this morning. Violence broke out in Bengal as a police vehicle was targeted in Jadavpur and CPM, MLA Sujan Chakraborty was detained. A fight was reported between the workers of CPM and Trinamool Congress workers. In the Bandh called by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) against “anti-labour policies” of the central government in which around 25 crore workers were expected to participate in the countrywide protest. It is assumed that the centre’s policies and labour laws will be affecting 80 crore people, the CITU has said, as they press for fixed minimum wage and equal wage for equal work.
The BJP-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh is not participating in the strike.
❍ Updates of various states in Bharat Bandh:
- In Bengal, several Left supporters took to train tracks in North 24 Parganas district, held a “Rail Roko protest” this morning to support the strike call by trade unions. Crude oil bombs were found on tracks, said railway police. Violence was reported in Jadavpur and Behala. The Left has accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of doublespeak after the state government said it would not support the strike. In Odisha, the strike affected road and rail traffic in Talcher, Bhubaneswar, Brahmapur, Bhadrak and Kendujhargarh.
- Congress’s Rahul Gandhi supported the protest in a tweet. “The Modi-Shah Govt’s anti-people, anti-labour policies have created catastrophic unemployment & are weakening our PSUs to justify their sale to Modi’s crony capitalist friends. Today, over 25 crore workers have called for #BharatBandh2020 in protest. I salute them,” he wrote.
- The Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra has supported today’s Bharat Bandh call by various trade unions, state minister Ashok Chavan said. In its mouthpiece Saamana, the ruling Sena today said: “Six months have passed since the present (BJP) government was formed (at the centre) and neither industries nor the condition of the labourers improved.
- In Chennai, where the ruling AIADMK is not supporting the protest, several protesters were detained when they tried to block roads. The government authorities have denied leaves to employees participating in the protest. Factories in Coimbatore and Tirupur are likely to be hit by protest.
- The trade unions have put out a 12-point charter of common demands on pay hike, minimum wage, social security and a uniform five-day week among others.
- A day before the strike, the government warned the trade unions of “consequences” if they joined the strike. An order issued by the Ministry of Personnel on Tuesday revealed that “The consequences will be faced by the employee, whoever is going on strike, besides deduction of wages, it may also include appropriate disciplinary action…
- The banking services like cheque clearing, deposit and withdrawal, and instrument issuance are expected to be impacted due to Bharat Bandh. However, services at private sector banks are not expected to suffer. State Bank of India (SBI), India’s largest bank by assets, has said that the strike called on January 8 will have a “minimal impact” on its operations as the membership of its bank employees in the strike is “very few”.
- Apart from the CITU, nine other trade unions that are a part of the strike are Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC), Self, Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF), United Trade Union Congress (UTUC).
Last week a meeting was held by Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar with trade union leaders but failed to convince them to call off the strike. A meeting with the Ministry of Labour and Unemployment – has not been held since 2015. The unions are also unhappy about the lack of Indian Labour Conferences