Nationwide general strike on 26 November to see participation of 25 crore workers

The charter of demands of the general strike include cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month for all non-income tax paying families and 10 kg free ration per person per month to all needy

FP Staff November 26, 2020 07:43:10 IST
Nationwide general strike on 26 November to see participation of 25 crore workers

Ten central trade unions will observe a nationwide general strike on 26 November, with an expected participation of 25 crore workers across the country, PTI reported.

At the meeting of the Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions (CTUs) and Sectoral Independent Federations and Associations held on 16 November, the unions expressed satisfaction over the tremendous response being received from workers and the people at large throughout the country to the ongoing campaign for the countrywide general strike.

The forum consists of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC), Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) and United Trade Union Congress (UTUC).

The preparatory campaign for the general strike against "the anti-people, anti-worker, anti-national and destructive policies of the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been going on with great enthusiasm all over the country", a statement issued after the meeting said.

Joint conventions and posters, leaflets published jointly as well as independently by the central trade unions and their affiliated trade unions state, district and local levels as well as at the sectoral level will be part of the strike. The strike notices have been served, it said, adding that in addition to workers, people from all walks of life and all sections of the society, including students, youth, women and peasants have been coming forward extending their whole-hearted support to the strike call.

The Independent Sectoral Federations and Associations in the central and state government employees and in the public sector enterprises have served the strike notice in most of the places, similarly the industrial units in the private sector, big and small, also have submitted notices to this effect in most part of the country, the joint statement said. The scheme workers, domestic workers, construction workers, beedi workers, hawkers, vendors, agricultural workers, self employed in rural and urban India have decided to come on streets for 'chakka jam', it further added.

Auto and taxi drivers have also decided to keep off the roads in many states. The federations of railway and defense employees have decided for large mobilisation on the day to express their solidarity to this strike action and the demands of the unions, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) has also stated that power engineers across the country will protest against the privatisation policies of the central government. The AIPEF is demanding to scrap of Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and standard bidding document (SBD) for the privatisation of electricity.

The All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) said it would be joining the one-day nationwide strike. "Lok Sabha in its recently held session has passed three new labour enactments by dismantling existing 27 enactments in the name of ''Ease of Business'', which are purely in the interest of corporates. In the process, 75 percent of workers are being pushed out of the orbits of labour laws since they will have no legal protection under the new enactment," the AIBEA said in a release.

The union said bank employees will also focus on their demands such as opposition to bank privatisation, opposition to outsourcing and contract system, adequate recruitment, stern action against big corporate defaulters, increase in rate of interest on bank deposits and reduction in service charges.

In a joint statement released by the All India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation (AIFUCTO), Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation (MFUCTO) Bombay University and College Teachers’ Union (BUCTU) as well as the Shikshak Bharati have expressed their solidarity with the all India strike.

Members of Shikshak Bharati and BUCTU will hold a protest demonstration at the gate of Bombay University’s Kalina campus on 26 November. “This strike is against the devastating health and economic crisis unleashed by COVID-19 and the lockdown on the working people of the country. This has been further aggravated by a series of anti-people legislations on agriculture and labour code enacted by the central government. Along with these measures, the National Education Policy (NEP) imposed on the nation during the pandemic will further cause irreparable harm to the equity and access of education,” said the joint statement.

The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) has also extended support to the general strike and would be mobilising in rural India to express solidarity with the workers. The trade unions have also extended their support to the call by AIKSCC, the umbrella organisation of Indian farmers, of 'Parliament Chalo' march on 26 and 27 November along with the mobilisation of workers all over India to stand with them against the farm laws. However, the BJP-aligned Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has clarified that it will refrain from participation.

The charter of demands of the general strike include cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month for all non-income tax paying families and 10 kg free ration per person per month to all needy. The unions also demanded for expansion of MGNREGA (rural employment guarantee scheme) to provide 200 days' work in a year in rural areas at enhanced wages and also extension of the employment guarantee to urban areas.

They have asked the government to withdraw all "anti-farmer laws and anti-worker labour codes and stop privatisation of public sector including the financial sector and stop corporatisation of government-run manufacturing and service entities like railways, ordinance factories, ports etc”. They also stressed in their demand to withdraw the "draconian circular on forced premature retirement of government and PSU employees".

'Pension to all', scrapping NPS (National Pension System) and restoration of earlier pension with improvement in EPS-95 (Employees' Pension Scheme-1995 run by retirement fund body EPFO) are among the other demands.

With inputs from agencies

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