New Delhi, January 8: Millions of workers from the organised and unorganised sectors started a 48-hour national strike on Tuesday to protest against what they call the Narendra Modi government’s anti-worker policies and the issue of unemployment among others.

Members of the trade unions blocked railway lines in West Bengal’s Howrah and Assam’s Guwahati demanding minimum wages and social security schemes among others.

In Odisha, workers held protests and blocked commuters in Bhubaneswar to stress for their demands.

At least ten central trade unions, except the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh-affiliated Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), are participating in the strike. The unions striking include Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the workers’ arm of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), among others.

Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan, a powerful platform of farmers’ bodies, has lent support to the strike, which may help trade unions penetrate rural areas as well.

Student and teacher organisations of various universities have also declared their support to the strike, the unions have said.

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Banking services are also likely to be affected as the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employees Federation of India has informed the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) of the two-day nationwide strike.

The trade unions have alleged in a joint statement that the government undermined tripartism and continued its “aggressive attack with arrogance on the lives and livelihood of the working people”.

The unions are also opposed to the proposed amendments in Trade Union Act, 1926, saying they are irrational and extremely damaging to the independent functioning of unions.

The strike comes after the farmers’ protests in November last year in the Capital. While the farmers’ protests were centred around the agrarian crisis, the trade unions are focusing on the unavailability of jobs.

The government has rejected the charges.

Earlier, the Prime Minister pointed out that under the Mudra scheme, at least 12 crore loans had been sanctioned. Modi cited Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation data to show how at least 4.1 million jobs had been created between September 2017 and April 2018.

Officials have said that massive work on rural and urban infrastructure means high levels of job creation in the unorganised sector.

The central trade unions had given the call for a nation-wide strike during a convention held in September last year. They accused the government of “arrogantly ignoring” the 12-point Charter of Demands on minimum wage, universal social security, workers’ status and including pay and facilities for the scheme workers, against privatisation of public and government sector including financial sectors.

Source Hindustan Times




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