Mixed response to strike by trade unions
NEW DELHI: The one-day nationwide strike called by trade unions on Friday hit normal life in several parts of the country.
The stir was called for by ten central unions to protest against what they called the government’s “indifference” to workers’ demands for better wages and facilities and the “anti-worker” changes in labour laws.
The employees, who pressed for 12- point demands, derailed services in various sectors such as public transport, banking and mining. The central trade unions termed the strike successful as around 18 crore workers came out on the streets to support the agitation.
While Delhi and Mumbai were not affected, services were partially affected in states such as Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. The stir evoked a mixed response in West Bengal, but Kerala was the worst affected. Protesting workers were detained in Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
Industry body Assocham pegged the loss to the economy due to the stir at 16,000-18,000 crore.
The government said sectors such as railways, civil aviation and major ports remained “unaffected”, while banking and insurance, coal, telecom and defence production were partially affected. Transport and steel sectors saw only marginal impact.
Trade Union Coordination Committee (TUCC) general secretary SP Tiwari said ,“On the whole, the strike paralysed day-to-day work in Kerala, Odisha, Tripura, Assam and Telangana. The impact was quite visible in Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Haryana, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.”
Tapan Kumar Sen of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said, “The response to the strike was massive and unprecedented. Workers actively participated in the strike despite the use of state repression, including the use of police force in some states such as West Bengal, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Assam.”
Reacting to the strike, Opposition Congress said the Modi government’s anti-labour policies such as ‘hire and fire’ had prompted all major trade unions, barring the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, to give a call for a nationwide strike.
The party’s senior spokesman, Ajay Maken, said the government was taking anti-labour and anti-poor steps in the guise of ushering in labour reforms.
He said while the unions had demanded a minimum wage of 18,000, the government had agreed to give just 9,100.