India: Trade Union Strike Brings The Nation To A Standstill

Life has come to a standstill in parts of India due to the 24-hour nationwide strike by trade unions and government employees on Tuesday. In all, 11 trade unions across party lines along with 8 lakh public sector employees with the exception of those in the Railways are participating. Banking, transport and government services have been hit across the country including major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

Trade unions strike: Banking, transport hit across India

New Delhi: Life has come to a standstill in parts of India due to the 24-hour nationwide strike by trade unions and government employees on Tuesday. In all, 11 trade unions across party lines along with 8 lakh public sector employees with the exception of those in the Railways are participating. Banking, transport and government services have been hit across the country including major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

The main grudges of the unions on strike include rising prices, disinvestment of profit-making PSUs and the violation of labour laws.

Unions leaders who have rejected appeals to desist from the strike had said all 11 major trade unions including Congress-affiliated INTUC, Shiv Sena-backed Bharatiya Kamgar Sena and UPA ally Indian Union Muslim League's trade-wing STU would join hands to make the strike a success.

"This a historic occasion as for the first time all the major trade unions irrespective of political affiliations are coming together to protest anti-labour polices of the government," AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said.

Dasgupta especially lauded INTUC president G Sanjeeva Reddy for being the "most consistent fighter in our joint struggle".

About 5,000 small unions also decided to support the strike call, the union leaders said.

The government had last week appealed the trade unions to desist from going on strike with Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge saying they were ready to discuss any kind of labour-related issues.

Rejecting the appeal, Dasgupta said "We are not ready to consider such a ritualistic statement on the part of the government." He said the government had enough opportunity earlier to sit with the trade unions to discuss the issues.

The unions are demanding no contractorisation of work - permanent or perennial nature, amendment of Minimum Wages Act, assured pension for all and compulsory registration of trade union among others.

In view of the nationwide strike called by a number of trade unions, the Delhi government clamped the Essential Services Maintenance Act on all power companies in the city to ensure that there is no disruption in electricity supply in the national Capital.

"Delhi government has clamped ESMA on all power companies including generation, distribution and other power companies in view of the proposed strike," a statement issued by the Chief Minister's office said.

As a result of the strike banks, telephone and transport services are likely to take a hit. A near complete paralysis is expected in Assam, Kerala, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Bihar.

In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has instructed her ministers to ensure that no Govt employees take part in the bandh which she says is Left sponsored. She's warned of consequences if her orders are violated.