Thousands of people have been taking part in the nationwide trade union led strike that is taking place today. Workers affiliated to various trade unions in multiple corners of India have made their presence count in this strike. Due to the ongoing strike call, transportation, banking services have been impacted in various towns and cities across the country. Workers and trade unions are expressing their disillusionment with the growing impacts of the economic slowdown and the shrinkage of jobs.
More than 10 national trade unions affiliated to major left-wing parties have taken part in the strike, they have also called for a sustained protest against the present regime’s ‘anti-people’ policies and incongruent labour reforms. Among the various issues over which dissatisfaction has been expressed by the trade unions are the government’s sustained move towards privatisation of state run companies such as Indian Airlines and oil major BPCL as well as the merger of public-sector banks of the country.
In West Bengal, as part of the strike, workers have disrupted train services in Kolkata and across the various towns while shops and banks were shut down in various places. Buses, taxis and other public transport stayed off the road in West Bengal. The same was true for Kerala. Delhi and Mumbai remained largely unaffected by the strike call.
All India Bank Employees’ Association along with many other trade unions have cautioned that enhanced privatisation of the economy and the merger of public sector banks will threaten to make the economy decline even further and led to a massive job cut down in the market. Moreover, they also raised issues concerning the greater economic slowdown under the current regime and the creation of bad loans for the banks.
There is an urgent need by the government to take corrective measures and roll back incongruent polices, the trade unions and workers appealed. The government had earlier issued a warning to employees that participation in the strike in any form would lead to the deduction of their wages and appropriate disciplinary action would be initiated against those who took part.
It is to be acknowledged that India is Asia’s third largest economy and is presently experiencing the worst economic slowdown of decades. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said that the policies of the present government have catastrophic implications for employment and have weakened state led companies. Thousands of people have lost their jobs in manufacturing and construction sector and debt ridden companies have even had to cut down on their construction plans. Unemployment rate rose to 7.7% in December from 7% a year ago, the data released by the Centre for Monitoring the India Economy revealed. It is also believed that the government may cut down spending for the current fiscal year by 2 trillion rupees as it is facing one of the biggest tax shortfalls in recent years due to the slowdown of the economy.