Bharat Bandh today: A two-day-long nationwide strike has been called by central trade union against the alleged repressive policies of the Narendra Modi-led union government. The strikes will start from midnight of January 7 and are likely to have a major impact in Left-dominated states of Kerala and West Bengal.
Apart from traders, the strike will also be joined by farm unions under the aegis of the Left peasant wings on January 8-9. “AIKS and Bhumi Adhikar Andolan will observe ”gramin hartal”, rail roko and road roko on January 8 and 9, the day trade unions are observing the nationwide general strike. This move is against the Modi government’s failure to address rural distress issues, to save rural farmers” lands from the corporates. The farmers will extend all support to the ensuing general strike,” Hannan Mollah, general secretary of the CPI(M)-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha was quoted as saying by PTI.
Bharat Bandh: Who is part of national strike?
The strike has been called by a consortium of ten central trade unions and has received support from organisations like the AITUC, CITU, HMS, AIUTUC, TUCC, AICCTU, along with employees in the banking and insurance sector. Farm unions like All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) cand Bhumi Adhikar Andolan are also part of the strike.
The trade unions have supports of almost all major independent federations of central employees, state employees and the employees of banks, insurance, telecom, and other service sectors representing the workers and employees of all the industries and services including transport services, both in organised and unorganised sectors.
“As many as 10 Central Trade Unions (CTUs) have joined hands to go on a two-day nationwide strike from tomorrow. We expect 20 crore workers to join the strike. “This is the largest number of workers from formal and informal sectors joining the strike against anti-people and anti-worker policies of the BJP-led central government,” Amarjeet Kaur, General Secretary of AITUC, told reporters in a joint press conference of the 10 CTUs.
National strike: What are trade unions demanding?
The central trade unions during the convention held in September 2018 had given the call for a nation-wide strike accusing 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. Laying out their demands, the convention at the time also denounced the “communal and divisive machinations in society being carried on with the active patronage from the government”.
“The government has failed to create jobs and grossly ignored unions’ 12-point charter of demands. The Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on labour issues has not called unions for any discussion since September 2, 2015 strike. This has left us with no other option but to go on strike,” Kaur said.
Who is opposing the Bharat Bandh?
While central trade unions gear up for the two-day strike, several trading organisations have denounced the call expressing that they will keep their shops open during the hartal. The effect which is likely to be most visible in the state of Kerala which is Left dominated, however, officials in the Kerala Trade and Industries Coordination Forum said that they will not participate in the in the strike. Similarly, the 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 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in TMC ruled West Bengal, CITU on Sunday said it would put up resistance if the state government makes attempts to foil its proposed bandh. CITU state president Subhas Mukherjee on Sunday said that their workers will be on the streets to resist any attempt by the state government to foil the shutdown. “The state government has felt that the bandh will be successful this time and that’s why they are making attempts to foil it. The TMC has never spoken in favour of the people. If they try to foil the strike, we will definitely resist it. This time the bandh will be successful,” Mukherjee said.