India: Why Workers Brought India to a Halt for Two Days

Author: Akhil Kumar, The Wire, India, Published on: 3 February 2019

"Bharat Bandh: Why Workers Brought India to a Halt for Two Days", 10 Janaury 2019

...[A]n estimated 200 million workers across various sectors successfully carried out a two-day nationwide strike on January 8-9. They were protesting against the government’s ‘anti-labour’ policies and alleged that the ruling party favours corporates over the interests of the vulnerable working class.

While [the] finance minister...doesn't see any 'real issues' in the protest..., striking workers assert the Modi government is apathetic towards them...[T]rade union leaders claim the Modi government has been ignoring their 12-point charter of demands that raises issues of unemployment, price rise, minimum wages, pension, increasing contractualisation, disinvestment, universal social security cover, strict compliance with labour laws and FDI. 

The strike is being hailed as the ‘largest ever’ and has also garnered solidarity from farmers, students and teachers... [T]hose participating in and supporting the strike include industrial and service sector workers, central and state government employees and workers from the unorganised sectors like construction, beedi, street vendors, domestic workers, home-based workers, rickshaw, auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers, agricultural workers etc.

Among the most pertinent demands raised by the protesters and union leaders was minimum wages of Rs 18,000, assured pension of at least Rs 3,000, withdrawal of the fixed-term employment provision, an end to privatisation and disinvestment from Public Sector Units (PSUs), end to contractualisation, against FDI [foreign direct investment] in defence and railways and guaranteed social security for all workers...

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