Workers Go On Historic All-India Strike Against Anti-Labour Law Reforms of Modi Government
On Sept 2 2015, workers of India went on a historical, nation-wide strike to protest against the anti-labour law reforms to be undertaken by the Modi government. Leaders of the workers’ unions said that the government-proposed reforms to the labour laws will only result in undermining the rights of the workers while safeguarding the capitalist interests of the companies.
Millions of workers from industrial plants, state-run banks, transportation, coal, and pharmaceutical sectors participated in the strike following the call of Central Trade Unions of the country for an all India general strike.
The Hindu reported around 10 lakh workers of the Gurgaon-Manesar-Bawal automobile sector participated in the strike. The production at all four plants of Maruti Suzuki was severely affected due to the same. Maruti Udyog Kamgaar Union general-secretary Kuldeep Jhanghu said: “Almost 80 per cent automobile factories in the Gurgaon-Manesar-Bawal sector were forced to shut down.”
The protest was joined by all central trade unions except RSS affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and National Front of Trade Unions. The RSS has been a supporter of Modi’s Hindutva and the capitalist policies of the BJP-led government and opposed this strike.
The Voice of the Unheard
The press release issued by Jibon Roy, General Secretary of All India Coal Workers’ Federation reads:
“The Government sought to consolidate a regime of hatred, divide working community through imposition of slavery to fetch unpaid labour from amongst the most socially backwards and thus imposing partial fascism through labor route. Which could have been more cruel than withdrawing the labour law protection from 70% of workers and organize return of labour concentration camp? Such camps are now rampant in coal mining areas after privatization law has been passed.”
The press statement by the President of Confederation of Central Govt. Employees and Workers reads: “The initial report received at the Confederation CHQ indicates the participation of about 8.5 lakh Central Government employees in today’s general Strike action of the Indian working Class. Earlier endorsing the call of the Central trade Unions, the Confederation of CGE and workers had called upon the Central Government employees to take part in the one day strike to compel the Govt. to withdraw the anti-people and anti-worker neo-liberal policies pursued since 1991. The report states that the offices of the Postal, Income Tax Ground Water Board, Survey of India Geological Survey of India, , Indian Bureau of Mines. Offices of the Census Departments, ISRO, Atomic Energy, Medical Store Depots, Film Institute of India, Offices of the AGMARK, various other autonomous scientific and research institutions, etc remained closed for the whole day and the work completely paralysed. The strike also paralysed the functioning of various offices of the Indian Audit and Account Department, Printing and Stationary, Census, CPWD, Civil Accounts, Indian Standards Institute etc. Total civilian employees of various Defence Organisations and Defence Accounts Departments participated in the strike. The strike in which lakhs of workers participated has cautioned the Government of the consequences of scrapping the various labour welfare legislations intended to please the Corporate houses.”
The 12-point charter submitted to the government:
Containing unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation
Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measures for violation of labour laws.
Sporadic incidents of clashes have been reported from different places. In West Bengal, the workers of CPI(M) and the ruling party of Trinamool Congress got into a confrontation. Thousands of workers were allegedly detained in Assam. Workers at Delhi hurled stones at factories near Mayapuri. Striking workers at Jyoti Garments in Manesar were threatened to be thrown out by the manager while one of the workers was beaten up by a supervisor. Workers striking at IMT Manesar were threatened too.