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All India Strike by Central Trade Unions – Latest Developments

All India Strike on 8th and 9th January 2019 – Central Government Employees, State Government Employees, Bank Employees and all workers to participate

Bharat Bandh has been called for by major Central Trade Unions such in which Central Government Employees, State Government Employees, Employees of Electricity Boards, Bank Employees and work force of various Govt run Productivity Establishments supporting Central Trade Unions are expected to participate.

Around 20 crore workers of the Central Trade Unions will from Tuesday begin a 48-hour nationwide strike to protest against the government’s alleged anti-worker policies. The BJP has, meanwhile, opposed the Bharat Bandh calls.

According to AITUC general secretary Amarjeet Kaur, 10 CTUs have joined hands to go on the strike and 20 crore workers are expected to join the Bharat Bandh. “This is the largest number of workers from formal and informal sectors joining the strike against anti-people and anti-worker policies of the BJP-led central government,” added Kaur while addressing a joint press conference of the 10 CTUs.

The General Strike Call by the Central Trade Unions, on the following demands, was given in the background of neo-liberal offensives unleashed by the Modi Government against the working people and trade unions and their hard won rights. And Central Public Sector Undertakings and the workers are the worst victims.

The 12 Point Charter of Demands

1. Urgent measures for containing price-rise through universalization of public distribution system and banning speculative trade in commodity market.

2. Containing unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation.

3. Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measures for violation of labour

4. Universal social security cover for all workers.

5. Minimum wages of not less than Rs 18,000/- per month with provisions of indexation.

6. Assured enhanced pension not less than Rs.6,000/- p.m. for the entire working population.

7. Stoppage of disinvestment in Central/State PSUs and strategic

8. Stoppage of contractorisation in permanent perennial work and payment of same wage and benefits for contract workers as regular workers for same and similar work.

9. Removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus, provident fund; increase the quantum of gratuity.

10. Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of submitting application and immediate ratification of ILO Conventions C 87 and C 98.

11. Against Labour Law Amendments proposed by Gol

12. Against FDI in Railways, Insurance and Defence.

As per the AITUC general secretary, sectors like banking, education, coal, steel, telecom, health, electricity, insurance and transport, inter alia, are likely to extend support to the strike.

“We will go on a protest march from Mandi House to Parliament in New Delhi on Wednesday. Similar protests would be done across the country,” she said.

Underlining that the CTUs are against unilateral labour reforms, Kaur said: “We have given suggestions on labour codes. But during the discussion…trade unions’ demands were rejected. We went on strike on September 2, 2016. We also did 3-day ‘Mahapadav’ (agitation) from November 9-11 in 2017. But the government did not come for dialogue rather went ahead with unilateral labour reforms.”

Bharat Bandh 2019: Who is supporting the strike and why

Farmers across the country will also join the strike. According to Hannan Mollah, the general secretary of the CPI(M)-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha: “AIKS and Bhumi Adhikar Andolan will observe ‘gramin hartal’, rail roko and road roko on January 8 and 9, the day trade unions are observing a nationwide general strike. This move is against the Modi government’s failure to address rural distress issues, to save rural farmers’ lands from the corporate. The farmers will extend all support to the ensuing general strike.”

The 10 Central Trade Unions going on strike include Indian National Trade Union Congress, All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Trade Union Coordination Centre, Self Employed Women’s Association, All India United Trade Union Centre, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, Labour Progressive Federation, and United Trade Union Congress.

“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,” Kaur said.

The CTUs also claimed that the government went on with its “aggressive attack with arrogance on the lives and livelihood of the working people”. They also raised their voice against the proposed amendments in Trade Union Act, 1926, calling them irrational.

Student and teacher organisations of various universities are also supporting the strike.

Bharat Bandh in January 2019: Who is opposing the tomorrow’s bandh

A number of trading organisations have rejected the call by the Central Trade Unions, saying they will keep their establishments open on January 8 and January 9. RSS’ affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) will not participate in the strike tomorrow.

Officials in the Kerala Trade and Industries Coordination Forum have vowed not to participate in tomorrow’s strike.

The Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association, Kerala Textile and Garment Dealers Association, Kerala Travel Mart Society, and Bakers Association have also announced their decision to stay away from the strike.

Most state-run banks are likely to be closed for two days from tomorrow as several bank employees associations have decided to join the nationwide general strike on January 8 and 9 called by central trade unions against “anti-worker” government policies.

The All India Bank Employees Association ( AIBEA ) and Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) have given call to their members, who are employees and officers of various banks, to participate in a nationwide strike on in support of a call given by 10 major central trade unions —INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, AICCTU, UTUC, TUCC, LPF and SEWA.

All you need to know about the bank strike:

1. Bank of Baroda, which is being merged with two other PSU banks Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank, has warned that if the bank employee unions sit on strike, the functioning of the bank’s branches in some of the zones may be affected. Bank employee unions are already protesting against bank mergers and had even called for a strike against the amalgamation last month.

2. Allahabad Bank has informed stock exchanges that it is taking all necessary steps, according to the existing guidelines, for the smooth functioning of the bank’s branches and offices during the strike.

3. Along with the banking sector, operations in the insurance industry are also likely to be hit as the All India Insurance Employees Association (AIIEA), General Insurance Employees All India Association (GIEAIA) and All India LIC Employees Federation ( AILICEF) have joined BEFI in the protest.

4. If the two-day strike materialises it will be the fourth bank strike in the last 30 days. On December 21 and 26, bank employees had sat on two strikes demanding wage revision and cancelling the bank merger plan. The two days of strike, which came within a week of each other, had hit banking services across the country.

5. A strike call notice said the banking, insurance and the rest of the financial sector, which represent the bulk of national savings, has become the government’s special target for reforms. “Regular, permanent, perennial jobs are being replaced by casual, temporary, contractual and fixed-term jobs. From job-oriented growth, it became jobless growth and now it is growth with job losses,” the unions said.

No strike in Bengal, declares Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday claimed that the trade unions-called general strike would have no impact in the state.

“I do not want to spend a single word on this. In West Bengal, we have taken a stand of not supporting any bandh.

Enough is enough. In the last 34 years, they (Left Front) have destroyed the state by calling bandh. There will be no bandh,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.

The state government has announced that its employees would be barred from availing casual leave or any half-day leave on Tuesday and Wednesday.

No leave will also be allowed on the day preceding the two-day strike or following it, a government notification said last week.

The state government on Monday announced that 500 additional buses would ply on city roads police have taken all measures to foil any untoward incident during tomorrow’s strike.

Private bus owners and taxi associations and app-based cabs have decided to take out vehicles on the roads like normal days.

According to a senior official at the state police department, extra police personnel would be deployed in and around the city.

“Anybody trying to disrupt normal life in the city will face strict action. Nobody will be allowed to put up barricades and stop people from trying to open shops or visiting offices. Market places, shops, malls, and every business entities will be operating normally,” the police official said.

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