India: Trade unions call for 2-day nationwide strike

Prashant Nanda 3 November 2021

The trade unions said their nationwide strike and convention is aimed at opposing the union government’s disinvestment plan of PSUs, highlight the hardship of the working class, the jobs challenge and the farmers’ issues.

Ten central trade unions (CTUs) on November 3 announced that they will conduct a two-day nationwide strike during the Budget Session of the parliament, and a series of protests and conventions before that starting from November 11.

The central trade unions including All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) and Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) argued that their action is aimed at opposing the union government’s disinvestment plan of PSUs, highlight the hardship of the working class, the jobs challenge and farmers’ issues.

The central trade unions said their protests and nationwide strike is being planned with a “view to make the people aware of the dangerous effects of this policy” and the trade unions and their cadres have “decided to systematically reach out to the people, starting with a National convention of Trade Unions in Delhi on November 11, followed by state-level conventions…demonstrations etc all over the country”.

It will be “followed by a 2-day countrywide general strike during the Budget Session in 2022. The meeting (joint trade unions platform) decided to observe 26 November, the anniversary of the National General Strike of trade unions and the ‘Kisan March’ towards Delhi as a nation-wide protest day”, they informed.

The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), a central trade union affiliated to the RSS, is not participating in the nationwide strike or other demonstrations with the 10 CTUs.

The 10 CTUs argued that the national monetisation pipeline move will lead to “price rise and increase in the user-charges for the people besides other disastrous negative fall-outs on our infrastructure and the economy”.

In the 2021-22 Union Budget, the central government had set a clear path of stake sale in public sector companies and financial institutions, including two PSU banks and one insurance company in FY22. Companies like Bharat Petroleum Corporation of India (BPCL), IDBI Bank, Air India, Shipping Corporation of India, Container Corporation of India, Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited and Pawan Hans, were among others on the stake sale list. Of these, air carrier Air India has now been cleared by the Union government. Besides, the LIC IPO is also in the pipeline.

While experts and economists argue in favour of the national monetisation pipeline move of the Union government, trade unions see it as privatisation and anti-workers, and argue that such moves will have a long term impact on job security and price rise.

Ten CTUs claimed that the government is not considering any of their demands and those of the farmers’ organisations.

To be sure, after Bhupendra Yadav took charge as the new labour and employment minister earlier this year, he had said that he is in favour of taking trade unions alongside on key issues including four labour codes. But unions argue that key issues including labour codes have not been discussed yet and they are seeking a review of the four codes. However, they accept that in the past few months even they have supported the government’s informal sector database move.

The trade unions said their own meeting was followed by a meeting with the leaders of the protesting farmers under the ‘Samyukt Kisan Morcha’ (SKM) banner and both sides were “unanimous that worker-kisan (farmers) unity is the need of the hour”.


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