Production was hit for around three hours in the industrial pockets of the National Capital Region with thousands of workers coming out on the streets in support of the nationwide strike called by trade unions on Wednesday. Autorickshaws and taxis too went off the roads, hitting thousands of commuters, though their strike was against policies of the Delhi government.
Trade unions and workers led marches in Okhla, Mayapuri, Bawana and Wazirpur. Striking workers gathered at Harkeshnagar Chowk near the Okhla Metro station at around 8.30 am, chanting anti-government slogans and opposing the changes proposed to labour laws.
“They are not letting us go to work. We had no idea about the strike and we were caught unawares. I will take the route from behind the mandir to my factory. My owner has been frantically calling on my phone. I must report to work. Striking will not get us anywhere except for a cut in our salaries,” said Rajnish (30), who works in Lark Laboratories in Harkeshnagar, Okhla Phase II.
Around 300 workers marched through the lanes and bylanes of Okhla Phase II, urging other workers to join them.
If they suspected that any factory was running, they crowded outside the factory doors, urging workers to cease work and join them.
Police teams were deployed in the area to maintain law and order, though protests and strikes across the city were largely peaceful except for a stray incident of stone-pelting at two factory buildings in the Mayapuri industrial area.
“The strike was largely peaceful except for some stray incidents,” said Rajesh Kumar (30), secretary of the Indian Federation of Trade Unions.
“Two factories were attacked. Workers also damaged three vehicles parked at the factory gates. Production slowed down in 1,731 factories in Mayapuri having a combined workforce of 2 lakh labourers from 9 am to 12 am,” said Neeraj Sehgal, general secretary of the Mayapuri Industrial Welfare Association.
Meanwhile, commuters were stranded in the city with thousands of autorickshaws and cabs going off the roads in a parallel strike against the Delhi government.
Workers alleged that the owners of the factories will make them work on their holidays to compensate the loss in production on Wednesday. “Many owners in Manesar where the Maruti Suzuki workers unrest was reported in 2012 have asked their workers to work last Sunday. However, 90 to 80 per cent of the 1500 automobile industry units in Manesar were closed on Wednesday with many factory units willfully declared a holiday,” Nayanjyoti, secretary of Krantikari Naujawan Sabha said.
“This strike was much more a factory-based unions’ campaigning and not that political in this part of the country unlike how it was in Bengal,” Nayanjyoti added.
“Transport Minister Gopal Rai is bringing Uber and Ola services and Nano cars to the city. Where will autorickshaws go?” said Rajinder Soni, general secretary of the Dilli Autorickshaw Sangh and general secreatry of the Dilli Pradesh Taxi Union said. Soni is also head of the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, the BJP-affiliated trade union which pulled out of the nationwide strike recently.