* Members of Central Trade Unions (CTUs) blocked railway line in Howrah demanding minimum wages and social security schemes, among others. CTU members in Odisha also held protests supporting the nationwide 48-hour strike. Around 20 crore workers will go on strike to protest against the government’s alleged anti-worker policies and unilateral labour reforms. As many as 10 Central Trade Unions (CTUs) have joined hands for the strike. A protest march will be held from Mandi House to Parliament in Delhi.
* Sectors like telecom, health, education, coal, steel, electricity, banking, insurance and transport among others are likely to support the strike. The 10 CTUs going on strike include INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC. RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) will not participate.
* Farmers across the country under the aegis of the Left peasant wings would join the general strike. “AIKS and Bhumi Adhikar Andolan will observe ‘gramin hartal’, rail roko and road roko on January 8 and 9. 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 (AIKS).
* CITU said that the government has failed to create jobs and grossly ignored unions’ 12-point charter of demands. The group of ministers headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley on labour issues has not called unions for any discussion since September 2, 2015 strike. This has left us with no other option but to go on strike.
* In a joint statement, the CTUs also alleged that the government undermined tripartism and continued its “aggressive attack with arrogance on the lives and livelihood of the working people.” They are also opposed to the proposed amendments in Trade Union Act, 1926, saying those are irrational and extremely damaging to the independent functioning of unions.
* The CITU alleged that the proposed amendments reveal the government’s dubious intent in total departure from existing mutually-agreed practices being followed for the last couple of decades. The Union Cabinet had last week approved amendment to the Trade Unions Act, 1926, to make provisions regarding recognition of trade unions. The present Act provides for only registration of trade unions and there is no provision for recognition of unions.
* The existing law empowers the employer not to deal, if they like, with the trade union at the workplace level even if there is a single union, it said.
The proposed amendment bill totally ignored the long-standing demands of the trade union movement, thereby allowing corporate masters to play with the basic rights of workers, the CITU alleged.
* The banking sector may only see a partial shutdown on January 8 and 9, a banking union official said Monday. The State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest bank with 85,000 branches, is likely to remain operational on the two days, along with a few other nationalised banks, the official said. All India Bank Employees Association and Bank Employees Federation of India have called the strike among the banking unions.
* The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) said it will also observe a two-day strike on the university campus in support of the Indian trade unions’ strike. Despite the university administration’s appeal to the students and faculty members to “not support disruptive activities”, the Left-led students’ union said it will go ahead with the strike. The labour strike has also been supported by the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) and the Federation of Central University Teachers Associations (FEDCUTA).
* Meanwhile, around 29,000 employees of the civic run transport service BEST in Mumbai are on an indefinite strike for various demands despite an industrial court restraining them from taking the step. Due to the strike, around 25 lakh passengers who travel by 3000 BEST buses that ply on streets of Mumbai city and the metropolitan region every day will be inconvenienced, a union official said. Various unions of BEST workers are demanding renewal of their salary agreements that got expired in 2016, rise in gratuity and bonus amounts.
(With agency inputs)