Bharat Bandh: Why Workers Brought India to a Halt for Two Days

New Delhi: Issuing a clarion call against the Modi government, an estimated 200 million workers across various sectors successfully carried out on January 8-9. They were protesting against the government’s ‘anti-labour’ policies and alleged that the ruling party favours corporates over the interests of the vulnerable working class.

While finance minister Arun Jaitley doesn’t see any ‘real issues’ in the protest and hints at it being the Left’s attempt to stoke ‘symbolic unrest’ to ensure their survival, striking workers assert the Modi government is apathetic towards them.

Alleging arrogance and contempt towards workers, trade union leaders claim the Modi government has been ignoring their 12-point charter of demands that raises issues of unemployment, price rise, minimum wages, pension, increasing contractualisation, disinvestment, universal social security cover, strict compliance with labour laws and FDI. ‘The Modi government is not interested in even meeting union representatives,’ a union leader told The Wire.

The strike was a part of the programme adopted by the National Convention of Workers, called jointly by ten central trade unions in September 2018. The RSS-affiliated Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is the only central union that did not participate in the strike action.

‘This Bharat Bandh does not concern the workers at all, it’s politically motivated and the BMS will not endorse any such action. Workers are falling in the trap of the CPI(M) and Rahul Gandhi, and being ‘abused’ to further political interests,’ Brijesh Upadhyay, national general secretary of the BMS, told The Wire. On being asked about the charter of demands, he added that seven of the 12 demands have already been partially addressed by the government.