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General strike evokes mixed response

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 08, 2020 Published on January 08, 2020

Workers from various trade unions staging a protest in Mumbai on Wednesday   -  Paul Noronha

Sectors such as banking, insurance, ports and public transport were also affected by the strike

The one-day national general strike called by 10 Central Trade Unions against the Centre’s policies evoked a mixed response even as the unions claimed that more than 25 crore workers, farmers, agriculture workers and students participated.

While the Congress and the Left parties expressed solidarity and congratulated the workers for their protest, the Sangh Parivar’s trade union BMS said workers did not take part in a “political strike.”

While States such as Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu witnessed shutdowns of establishments for the day, striking workers held protest rallies in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam, Telangana, Rajasthan and Punjab.

Sectors such as banking, insurance, ports and public transport were also affected by the strike.

The unions claimed in a statement that there was a total bandh in Kerala, Tripura, Assam, Bihar, Punjab, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Goa, and several other States.

“Shops and road transport were closed totally in Tripura, defying the warning by BJP goons not to do so. In West Bengal, and in many districts of Jharkhand and Karnataka, there was a bandh-like situation,” it said and added that workers in the private organised sector, including MNCs, responded to the strike call.

“The strike was total in big industries in Karnataka, including Toyota, Volvo buses and Volvo trucks, Bosch, ITC, Vikrant Tyres etc. Most of the industrial clusters in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Jharkhand, etc were closed due to the strike. The strike in jute and plantation was massive,” the statement claimed.

They said electricity distribution and consumption in the country registered a decline due to the participation of the State electricity boards’ employees.

Read more: Trade unions go on nationwide strike against Centre’s “anti-people” policies

The BMS contradicted this claim. “BMS is very much proud of Indian workers’ wisdom to distinguish between political parties’ interest and their own,” it said.

Opposition parties congratulated the workers. “The Modi-Shah Government’s anti-people, anti-labour policies have created catastrophic unemployment and are weakening our PSUs to justify their sale to Modi’s crony capitalist friends. Today, over 25 crore workers have called for Bharat Bandh in protest. I salute them,” tweeted former Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said the striking unions are seeking answers from the Centre as to what it has done to create new employment and why existing jobs have been destroyed methodically by this government. “There is unrest, anger in the country, every section of the society feels disturbed, apprehensive,” he said.

“The strike action paves the way for even broader unity of the people through forging mightier struggles,” said the Polit Bureau of the CPI(M).

Published on January 08, 2020
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