Bharat Bandh today: Lukewarm response nationwide as 18-crore workers go on strike

On Friday, the Left-affiliated parties have called for a nation-wide strike to protest the current government's "anti-labour" policies. Trade unions are likely to be joined by workers of six public sector banks. Many people are predicting that the possible fallout of the strike could result into a shutdown of banks, factories and government offices across the country.

In New Delhi, essential services such as banking and transport are likely to be hit on Friday as 10 central trade unions go on a one-day nationwide strike, protesting against "anti-worker" changes in labour laws and the Centre's "indifference" to their demands for better wages.

"The strike is on. We are getting good response. More information will pour in after sometime. Around 90 percent workers at BHEL's plant in Tiruchirapalli have not reported at work in the morning shift," Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) General Secretary Tapan Kumar Sen told PTI.

He further said, "Vizag steel plant is 100 percent closed. At some places there would be instances of 'Rail Roko'. This is going to be a successful strike as more than 15 crore workers will come on streets to protest."

Last year, these 10 trade unions had called nationwide strike and around 15 crore workers participated in the agitation.

Representational image. ANI

Representational image. ANI

Sen further said, "Gurgaon industrial area is completely closed and the police have arrested about 12 people in Manesar area. All this information indicates that the strike will be bigger this time."

All major unions, excluding RSS-associated BMS (Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh), have joined the strike call, terming the government's assurances to look into their demands and the recent announcements for two-year bonus and hike in minimum wage as "completely inadequate".

On its part, the government has asked all ministries to ensure that public utilities and essential services are not affected. Secretaries of all departments have been asked to take effective measures for smooth running of various services coming under their respective ministries.

On Thursday, speaking to reporters in Mumbai, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya blamed the previous UPA regime for the issues faced by the workers and said the present government "doesn't want a confrontation with labour unions" and rather needs their cooperation and support.

He had conceded banking and insurance sectors are likely to be impacted more due to the strike today, while adding that out of 12 demands of the trade unions, eight are related to the labour department and seven of them have been agreed to.

Opposing the country-wide strike called by central trade unions, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her government will take strongest possible action against "miscreants" who try to disrupt public life and will ensure compensation for damage to shops or vehicles.

"Bengal will not be stopped on 2 September, 2016. On 2 September, all educational institutions, shops, institutions, offices and factories will remain open. Vehicles will ply normally and public transport will not be hindered. There will be strongest possible action against any miscreant who will try to disrupt public life," Banerjee tweeted.

"The government will arrange for due compensation for any damage caused by miscreants to any shop, vehicle or
establishment," Banerjee tweeted.

The chief minister had last week asserted that her government would not allow any bandh in the state on September 2 and said, "If they (central trade unions) want they can go to Delhi and stage dharna to register their protest."

The central trade unions have given a call for a countrywide general strike on 2 September to protest the "anti-people, anti-national and anti-worker" policies of the NDA government at the Centre.

On Friday, CPM and TMC workers clashed on the streets of Kolkata.

Various people took to Twitter to express their feelings about the strike.

Bengaluru, infamous for its traffic, saw relieved commuters who revelled at the sight of empty roads. Although, some commuters found it difficult to reach work because public transport services like buses, autos and taxis are called off. According to a report by The Times of India, KSRTC and BMTC unions are supporting the bandh, and hence most commuters find it difficult to make it to their work place.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon Limited and Chairperson of IIM-Bangalore also showed her displeasure over the bandh. She expressed that he call for a strike affects the economy of the country.

Most people don't know what the strike is called for, but are just glad that they get an extra day off work - a long weekend.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Sep 02, 2016 13:04 PM

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