With more than 150 million workers on the streets, the 2nd September Strike by trade unions was the biggest ever industrial action by the working class of the country. Its sweep was much beyond participation of workers from public and organized sectors. Employees and workers from unorganized sectors, government schemes like ICDS, Aanganwadi and small scale industries too participated in this strike. In all , strategic sectors of the economy, viz., coal mines, electricity, engineering, petroleum, defence production, telecom, banks and insurance etc., were brought to a halt. All Central trade Unions and different federations participated in the strike except Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the labour wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which tried its level best to sabotage the strike.
While many headlines in the newspaper claimed that the strike had mixed response, trade unions have called it a massive success. Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has congratulated the working class of the country calling it the biggest ever strike. “The Centre of Indian Trade Unions salutes the working class of India for the historic strike today rebuffing all attempts by the BJP led NDA government to confuse the workers through different channels,” the statement read. The statement of CITU also quotes data from NDTV which reports participation of more than 18 crore workers in the strike. UP, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and States like Haryana, Kerala and Bengal saw massive participation of people from all sections of the society. The statement can be read here .
Women Workers in UP
CITU Workers in Haryana
It is to be noted that the workers participation was witnessed despite warnings from managements and repression by state governments. A large number of peasants, agricultural workers, youth, students and women participated in the road/ rail blockades and the demonstrations held across the country. Workers in Haryana, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh were stopped from participation in the strike through use of police forces. 13 workers were arrested in Manesar while distributing pamphlets. It’s unfortunate that the Delhi government invoked ESMA on protesting nurses on the same day.
Workers being stopped by police in Tamilnadu
Workers being arrested in Andhra
The coal mines and big industries had come to a standstill in most parts of the country. The industrial areas of Durgapur in Bengal, Coal Mines in Jharkhand, Power Stations in MP and even the Film Division in Mumbai were shut. All India Coal Workers Federation General Secretary (CITU) D.D. Ramanadan said , that “dispatch, production and transport of coal have come to a standstill with operations in CIL subsidiaries BCCL, CCL, ECL and CMPDI badly hit. Around 300 workers have been arrested in Rajmahal and Chitra mines areas.”
Durgapur Industrial Area
Film Division , Mumbai
Busy Domlur flyover connecting IT hub of Bangalore to the main city stands deserted. Transport workers too join strike!
In a statement, The Confederation of Central Government Employees & Workers said, “ The country wide general strike on 2nd September this year was even bigger and more widespread than that held on the same day last year, as initial reports from all over the country suggest. The country wide general strike this year too was held on the same 12 point charter of demands. The central trade unions claimed a participation of 15 crore workers in the strike last year. The impact of the strike this year was so huge that even before the trade unions made any claims, the electronic media reported that 18 crore workers participated in the strike.” Read More ….
The strike was called for a 12-point charter of demands which consist of all the major issues which concern the working people. It mainly includes the demand to curb price rise, strengthen the public distribution system; stopping dilution of labor laws; halting the privatization of public sector enterprises; end to contractualization of jobs; for a minimum wage of Rs 18,000 per month; and an assured pension of Rs 3,000 for all workers, including unorganized sector workers.
The Finance Minister in a press conference had spoken about acceptance of demands raised by the trade unions. The unions had called it mockery. The statement by unions can be read here…
The workers gave a fitting reply to the misinformation campaign unleashed by the BJP government aided by BMS. It reflects the anger and resentment of the workers against the attacks on their working and living conditions by the Neo-liberal agenda of the BJP led government.