September 2, 2016

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions salutes the working class of India for the historic strike today rebuffing all attempts by the BJP-led [BJP is the main, governing right-wing party of Pres. Narendra Modi] NDA government to confuse the workers through different channels.

This was the biggest ever strike by the working class of the country with some media channels reporting that 18 crores [a crore is 10 million, i.e., 180 million] workers joined the strike with its sweep much beyond the workers organised by the sponsoring trade unions. Employees and workers from all sectors of the country’s economy – organised and unorganised, public sector and private sector, central and state government departments, and the scheme workers participated in this strike.

In all the strategic sectors of the economy, viz., coal and non-coal mines, electricity, Engineering, petroleum, defence production, telecom and the financial sector like banks and insurance etc, the workers and employees took part in the strike in a big way ignoring threats of the respective ministries, managements and also by many state governments.

State level trade union centres also joined the strike in several states including Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Odisha etc. It is significant that this general strike called by all the central trade unions except the BMS and almost all independent federations of workers and employees received unprecedented support from the common people.

Peasants, agricultural workers, youth, students and women joined in large numbers in the rasta roko, rail roko and the demonstrations held across the country, in support of the demands raised by the trade unions.Workers actively participated in the strike despite the use of state repression including the use of police force in some states like West Bengal, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Assam etc.

The Trinamool government in West Bengal used the brutal force of its police as well as its goons to physically attack the workers on strike. There were clashes in several districts as workers resisted the use of force. Section 144 was imposed in several industrial areas as in Gurgaon, Faridabad in Haryana, Nodia etc. 12 workers of Maruti Suzuki and 22 transport union leaders were arrested in Gurgaon; police went to workers’ residential areas in Gurgaon to coerce contract workers who were on strike, to join work.

The West Bengal transport minister directed the MD of Water Transport to suspend the striking employees. TMC goons attacked processions of striking workers, youth, women and even journalists in Burdwan and many other places.

Road transport came to a standstill in several states including Haryana, Punjab, Telangana, Karnataka, Assam, Odisha, Kerala, Tripura etc.

Autos too were off the streets in several states like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka etc. Though the trade unions did not call for a bandh [a more comprehensive form of general strike; shopkeepers do not open, general public expected to stay home] , a bandh-like situation prevailed in many states in the country including Assam, Bihar Haryana, Odisha, Kerala, Tripura, Telangana, many districts of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and others.

Large industrial clusters and manufacturing hubs in most of the states including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Delhi-NCR, Haryana, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, etc came to a grinding halt due to the strike. Hundreds of thousands  of workers in the industrial areas of Pune, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nasik, Mumbai and Solapur in Maharashtra joined the strike enmasse. The strike was total in Kerala and Tripura.

The unprecedented response to the strike, despite the misinformation campaign unleashed by the BJP government aided by BMS, reflects the anger and resentment of the workers against the attacks on their working and living conditions by the neoliberal agenda of the BJP led government.

This strike is yet another warning by the working class of India that it is determined to continue its struggle to protect not only the rights of the workers but also the self reliance and sovereignty of the country.

The CITU extends its gratitude to the massive support and solidarity extended to the strike by various sections of the people including kisans, agricultural workers, adivasis etc.

CITU demands the government to take immediate steps to meet the demands raised unanimously by the entire trade union movement in the country.

It calls upon the working class to further strengthen the unity at the grass root level and be prepared for more intense struggles if the government chooses to continue with its policies.