General strike in India

Submitted by AWL on 23 January, 2019 - 11:55 Author: K R Shyam Sundar

These excerpts from an article by K R Shyam Sundar in the Mumbai Economic and Political Weekly (19 January) give information on the recent general strike in India.

The joint platform of Central Trade Unions comprising 10 unions conducted a general strike on 8 and 9 January 2019.

Since 1991, the CTUs have conducted 18 countrywide work stoppages and multiple forms of protests...
apart from concerted strikes at the industry level, like banks, insurance, etc, against the economic and labour
policies of the central government...

The macro protests have become frequent and also more inclusive. This is so in three senses, namely in
mobilising workers from the unorganised sector like the domestic and anganwadi [rural childcare] workers,
and street vendors; widening the struggle agenda; and in locating workers’ protests at various sites of social
dialogue forums like the Indian Labour Conference (ILC), Parliament, the streets, etc...

The two­day strike is reported to have a guesstimated participation of 200 million workers [though the
author reckons that the real figure would have been smaller].

The trade union movement is witnessing fissuring and fragmentation... A few trade unions... have walked
out of the joint platform of Central Trade Unions...

The strike was seen to be overtly political for two reasons. It was sponsored by the labour wings of the
political parties that constitute the opposition front to the government and it has reportedly received
[Congress Party leader] Rahul Gandhi’s blessings....

Notwithstanding the cracks within the trade union and in the unity forums, the angst and
anger in the length and breadth of the working class movement cannot be denied. Trade
unions, irrespective of their professed association with some front or the other, are unarguably
against the policies of the government and hold almost common protest charters.

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