Protesting against the alleged repressive policies of the Narendra Modi-led union government, the central trade union are observing a two-day Bharat Bandh starting January 8. The impact of the nationwide strike, which began Monday midnight, is expected to reflect largely in Left-ruled states of Kerala and West Bengal.
1, As many as ten central trade unions have come together to call the strike, which is further being supported by organisations like AITUC, CITU, HMS, AIUTUC, TUCC, AICCTU, along with a large number of employees in the banking and insurance sector. The call for Bharat Bandh was given by the central trade unions during a convention held in September 2018.
2. The strike has been called to protest against “anti-people and anti-worker policies” of the BJP-led central government. The traders have accused the government of 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. Farm unions like All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and Bhumi Adhikar Andolan are also participating in the strike.
3. Several trading organisations have refused to join the hartal and are going to keep their shops open. RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) will not participate. In Kerala, where the effect is likely to be most visible, the Kerala Trade and Industries Coordination Forum, Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association, Kerala Travel Mart Society, Kerala Textile and Garment Dealers Association and Bakers Association will also stay away from the strike.
4. Banking operations have been partially affected as a section of employees in some parts of the country refrained from work. Bank unions including, All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employees’ Federation of India (BEFI) have supported the strike. Operations in SBI and private sector banks remained unaffected.
5, According to AITUC General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur, the strike is particularly visible in the “targeted industrial areas and different mines.” Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Manipur, Bihar, Rajasthan, Goa, Punjab, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Haryana are among the states where the bandh is being observed. Transport department in Bhopal is closed while Haryana Roadways is also participating in the strike.
6. In West Bengal, members of Central Trade Unions blocked railway line in Howrah. Meanwhile, police in Kolkata detained CPM workers who had come out on streets in support of 48-hour nationwide strike.
7. Karnataka was partially affected by the strike as buses of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) stayed off the roads in most parts of the state but private buses, auto, taxi and metro services were available. In several districts, a holiday was declared in schools and colleges, and examinations reportedly postponed.
8. Normal life was affected in Kerala as private and KSRTC buses did not operate across the state. In Trivandrum, trains were blocked for more than an hour by protesters causing severe inconvenience to commuters.
9. In Telangana, over 20 lakh workers and employees of different private, government and unorganised sectors are likely to take part in the strike. While emergency service providers like hospitals have been exempted from the strike, railway employees are not directly participating in the strike.
10. In Odisha, all educational institutions including schools, colleges and universities are closed down due to the strike. The effects of the bandh could be seen on NH-16, where traffic was stalled as trade unions came out in protest.