Indian unions: Save India from privatisation and anti-labour policies

Coinciding with India’s commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi’s call to British colonisers to “quit India” on 9 August 1942, different workers and trade unions staged a nationwide protest against the government’s plan to privatise public utilities and suspension of labour laws under the pretense of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Under the call to “Save India,” the Central Trade Unions (CTUs) called for countrywide protest actions, many of which were organised and participated by BWI-affiliated trade unions. BWI affiliates conducted various actions such as rallies, press meetings and other protest activities in Odisha (INBCWWF), Karnataka (KSCWCU), Delhi (DANMU, DNMS, DESWU and NMPS), Maharashtra (NMS), Punjab (BMS), Rajasthan (AHBWU) and Bihar (CLU and HKMP). 

A postcard campaign was also launched by BNKMU (Uttar Pradesh) and DNMS (Delhi) as part of the Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC) campaign to send 2 Million postcards to the Indian Prime Minister from 8 August until 9 September to protest the government’s anti-labour policies. Meanwhile, the HKMP organised a tree planting event to mark the day amidst lockdown restrictions on gatherings.  

BWI-Indian Affiliates Council Chair Rama Chandra Khuntia congratulated the different trade unions and workers across various States for effectively raising their voice against the government’s anti-labour policies. “We shall continue to build pressure on the Central and State Governments to accord due respect to labour rights as enshrined in the ILO Principle of Social Justice and also well-established International Labour Standards.” 

The protest actions were widely reported by media. Different media reports said that close to 10 million working people participated in the “Save India” nationwide protest action.