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Bharat Bandh: Here’s how the nationwide strike by trade unions is affecting the daily life of citizens

Nov 26, 2020, 12:50 IST
  • The 24-hour bandh began at 6 am and is expected to observe participation from over 25 crore workers.
  • Banking operations across the country will be hit as some bank unions would be joining the nationwide strike.
  • The union representatives say that Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been affected the most so far due to the agitation as unions began a nationwide strike across the country.
  • In many states, auto and taxi drivers have decided to keep off the roads.
Central trade unions are on a nationwide strike today to protest against various policies of the central government, from privatisations of public sector banks to new labour and farm laws. An estimated 25 crore workers are participating in the day-long strike called by ten central trade unions.

Ten central trade unions that are a part of the nationwide strike
Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC)
All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC)
Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS)
Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)
All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC)
Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC)
Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA)
All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU)
Labour Progressive Federation (LPF)
United Trade Union Congress (UTUC)

“The strike has begun. Kerala and Tamil Nadu are completely shut down. A similar situation is also developing in Odisha, Punjab, Haryana, Telangana and Goa. There is also a good response to the strike in Maharashtra,” AITUC General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur told PTI.

What are they demanding?
  • Unions have asked the Centre to provide 200 days’ work in a year at enhanced wages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme.
  • Withdrawal of anti-farmer and anti-worker labour codes.
  • Scrapping of the National Pension System (NPS)
  • Restoration of the earlier pension scheme with improvement in EPS-95
They are also standing in solidarity with the farmers’ protest that has been gathering attention over the past few months. In a recent development, the Punjab farmers started assembling in large numbers as part of their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march to protest the Centre’s new farm laws.

Bracing overnight rains and chilly winds, thousands of protesting farmers on Thursday assembled at various places along the Haryana borders in Punjab. A huge contingent of police comprising the Rapid Action Force has been deployed to deal with any untoward situation.

Banking operations hindered by the nationwide strike

Banking operations across the country were impacted on Thursday with some bank unions joining the nationwide strike. Many lenders, including IDBI Bank and Bank of Maharashtra, in regulatory filings on Wednesday, said their normal working could be affected at the branches and offices.

The All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA) and Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) are participating in the strike. The association represents majority of the banks, except State Bank of India (SBI) and Indian Overseas Bank. It has four lakh bank employees from various public and old private sectors.

Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been affected the most
The union representatives said that Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been affected the most so far due to the agitation as unions began a nationwide strike across the country.

“Visakhapatnam steel plant is affected due to the strike. Besides, the majority of workers in coal mines are also on strike. The work at copper plants, port and dock area are also affected. Delhi industrial areas are closed down. Workers would protest at Jantar Mantar,” Kaur said.

The strike affects everyday life in West Bengal

Normal life was partially affected in parts of West Bengal as mostly activists of CPI(M)- affiliated outfits like CITU and DYFI, brought out rallies in Jadavpur, Garia, Kamalgazi, Lake Town and Dumdum areas in and around Kolkata; disrupting traffic and asking shopkeepers to pull down the shutters of their establishments. A large police contingent was deployed to ensure normal plying of vehicles.

Bandh enforcers also blocked roads in Coochbehar and Jhargram districts, burning tyres and breaking the windscreen of buses. The members of the Communist Party of India Liberation, CPI(M), and Congress also blocked the railway tracks in Jadavpur.

The strike affects normal life across the country

In many states, auto and taxi drivers have decided to keep off the roads. The federations of railway and defence employees have decided to have large mobilisation on Thursday to express solidarity with the striking workers.

Workers in the unorganised sector such as domestic workers, construction workers, beedi workers, hawkers, vendors, agricultural workers, self-employed in rural and urban areas have also decided to come on to the streets for ‘chakka jam’, the joint forum of Independent Sectoral Federations and Associations in the central and state government employees said.

Demonstration across Odisha

The Members of Odisha Nirmana Sramik Federation, All India Central Council of Trade Unions and All Orissa Petrol and Diesel Pump Workers Union held demonstrations across Odisha against the centre's new labour laws.

(with inputs from agencies)

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