Ten major trade unions across India will go on a 48-hour-long nationwide strike on January 8 and 9 to protest against what they call 'anti-worker' and 'anti-trade union' policies of the Narendra Modi government.
These include the All India Trade Union Congress, CITU, Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), SEWA and LPF. They are deeming this strike as a 'historic event'. The idea for this two-day general strike came up during the National Convention of Workers (NCW) held on September 28, 2018.
"In the two-day national bandh of 2013, around 13-14 crore workers took part. This year, with employees from state and central governments, along with various other sectors, the number is going to be more than that," CITU Kerala state president Anathalavattom Anandan reportedly said.
Also expected to participate in the 48-hour-long strike are employees of Railways, banks, electricity departments and workers of the unorganised sector including auto, taxi drivers and street vendors.
The trade unions are miffed with the Modi government for not fulfilling its promise of creating over 1 crore jobs a year. According to Labour Bureau statistics, 1.55 lakh jobs and 2.31 lakh jobs were created in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
According to a statement by the NCW, a large number of small-scale industries were shut down in the past four years. "Over 2 lakh small-scale industries have been shut down. A unit can consist of between 50 and 300 employees. People, who already had jobs, lost a way to earn because of this," Anandan said.
"The implementation of GST has further compounded the hardships. Even essential and lifesaving medicines have been subject to hefty GST," he added.
Accusing the Centre of having 'malafide intentions', Ashok Singh, vice president of INTUC, said, "We are not happy with the policies of the government. These policies are anti-working class, pro-capital but not (in favour of) employees."
To meet its divestment target, the government plans to sell some public sector undertakings. The trade unions are against this move as they believe many of these units were formed by the labour of thousands of workers. They call it "people's property" and claim that the government has no right to sell it.
Workers have critiqued that the government has been ignoring the 12-point charter of demands on issues such as minimum wage and universal social security. They have raised concerns about the new pension scheme, the four modified Labour Codes and the introduction of a fixed-term employment.
Farmers across the country under the aegis of the Left peasant wings would also join the two-day strike against the government.
"The All India Kisan Sabha and Bhumi Adhikar Andolan will observe 'gramin hartal', rail roko and road roko on January 8 and 9, the day trade unions are observing 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," said Hannan Mollah, general secretary of the CPI(M)-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha.(With inputs from PTI)