Bharat Bandh on 2nd Sept: Biggest trade union strike in recent time


Central trade unions (CTUs) across India have rejected the central government’s request to call off the nationwide bandh on Sep 2, 2016, thereby bringing all banks, factories and other organised sectors to a standstill on Friday.

Leading trade unions, including the All India Trade Unions Congress (AITUC) and Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), have refused to call off the strike, saying that the government failed to meet their 12-point charter of demands.

The demands include raising the minimum wage from Rs. 9,000 to Rs. 18,000 per month, stopping the disinvestment of Coal India, ending allocations of coal blocks to private companies, sorting out the wage revision of contact workers as well as outsourced workers in the coal industry. The CTUs also objected to the government’s decision of foreign investment, especially in the pharmaceutical and defence sectors, on grounds of threat to national security.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also convened an emergency meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal and Dattatreya regarding the matter. A new offer may be made to the CTUs that will hopefully lead them to call off the strike.

Almost 5 lakh bank union workers and officers will reportedly join the strike to protest against the “anti-people, anti-national and anti-worker” policies of the Modi government. Workers and employees of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will also join the protest.

Their 12-point charter of demands includes

  • Minimum wage of Rs. 18,000 per month in the unorganised sector
  • A stop to what the unions call “mass-scale privatisation of permanent and perennial works”
  • A stop to the “onslaught on basic rights of the workers through the so-called labour law reforms”
  • Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of application and immediate rectification of International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions C-87 and C-98.

The All India Reserve Bank Employees’ Association (AIRBEA) and the All India Reserve Bank Workers’ Federation (AIRBWF) said in a joint statement that their employees “all over the country will participate in September 2 industrial strike in support of the demands of the country’s working class.”

While The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) and North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) have extended support to the 12-hour strike, which has been called by All India Trade Unions Congress (AITUC) and Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).

Private transport unions have not confirmed if they will be supporting the strike. They will take a decision on Thursday. So will autorickshaw and cab unions.

In West Bengal Mamata had opposed the proposed countrywide strike on September 2 saying that she is against bandhs and its sponsors will harm the people. Taking a tough stand, the state government had on Monday directed all its employees to report for work on September 2. While, Trinamool MP and lawyer Idris Ali on Tuesday filed a public interest litigation (PIL) at the Calcutta High Court on behalf of All India Minority Forum against the bandh called by central trade unions on September 2.

Circulars have been issued by the state government, stating that no leave would be allowed to employees on September 2, and that attendance was mandatory a day before and after the strike. The KMC too has put up hoardings across the city, asking people to stay away from the bandh and keep shops and offices open.

INTTUC, the trade union arm of Trinamool Congress, on Tuesday took out a massive rally in Kolkata during the day opposing the strike.

All over India Factories, nationalised banks, insurance companies, and commercial establishments, will be shut to protest over various issues like raising the minimum wage, stopping disinvestment of Coal India, as well as foreign investment in defence and pharmaceutical sectors.

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