Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Indian class war

Millions of workers in India are staging a 24-hour strike (bandh). The workers are demanding a national minimum wage, permanent jobs for contract labourers, social security for informal labourers, pensions for all workers, intervention by the government to stop the rising costs of living, and to end the sell off of publicly owned companies amongst other demands. One of the key demands of the strikers is to implement labour laws, a legislation that’s been passed decades ago but not been implemented. The unions say they will strike again later this year for as long as a week if their demands aren't met.

Tuesday’s strike, one of the biggest in recent times, is being backed by all 11 major trade unions in the country, including the Left affiliated All India Trade Union Congress [AITUC] and Indian National Trade Union Congress [INTUC] linked to ruling Congress party.

In the eastern city of Kolkata, a traditional trade union stronghold, most bank branches, shops and other businesses were closed, with taxis and rickshaws staying off the streets. In Mumbai, Vishwas Utagi, general secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association, claimed there was a "complete shutdown" in the banking sector. Kochi's streets are near-empty. Unionised dock worker also walk off job in Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata. Operations at the Port of Jawaharlal Nehru (Nhava Sheva) were severely disrupted Tuesday after dock workers at India’s largest container gateway joined a 24-hour nationwide general strike. Nearly 60 percent of India’s total containerized export and import cargo moves through Nehru.

AITUC leader Gurudas Dasgupta declared "We are fighting for our rights against a government that is anti-people."

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