India: 200 million workers hold two-day strike vs. anti-labour policies

BWI’s trade union affiliates in India joined a two-day nationwide strike (Bharat Bandh) on 28 and 29 of March called by ten Central Trade Unions (CTUs) to oppose the government’s “anti-worker, anti-farmer, anti-people and anti-national policies.” 

The major demands put forward by trade unions are the scrapping of the labour codes and National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP), end to privatisation, reduction of taxes on petrol and diesel, implementation of the old pension and social welfare schemes in the unorganised sectors, financial aid to workers’ families, wage increases under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) and equal pay for and regularisation of contract workers.

An estimated 200 million workers joined the two-day strike, which included both formal and informal workers from the construction, forestry, banks, municipal corporations, transport, electricity, power, steel, oil, insurance, telecom, postal and income tax sectors. Farmers’ unions also extended support to the nationwide protest. 

The BWI Affiliates that joined the protests were INCWF, SGEU, AIKTMS, TCTU (Tamil Nadu State), BMS and SEWA (Gujarat State), AHPWD, IPHCWU and HBCMU (Himachal Pradesh State), BMS (Punjab State), KSCWCU (Karnataka State), AHBWU (Rajasthan State), CLU and HKMP (Bihar State), KKNTC (Kerala State), and INBCWF, OFMFPWU, OKKS and NOBSM from the Odisha State. 

Dr. R C Khuntia, BWI Asia Pacific Vice-Chair and Indian Affiliates Council (IAC) Chairperson lauded the workers and trade unionists who participated in the protests. 

“Workers and trade unions will continue to raise their voices and protest against anti-labour measures and pseudo reforms being pushed by the current government. We urge the government to listen and respond to the workers’ concerns and issues outlined in our Joint Charter of Demands. This is imperative to realise industrial peace and honour decent work across different sectors,” said Khuntia, who is also the INBCWWF President.