Strike by 200 million workers brings life to standstill in India

New Delhi, March 29 (KMS): The two-day strike across India that began on Monday has brought life to a standstill as millions of workers associated with banking as well as public transport sectors are protesting against various policies of the Modi government.

The strike given the name of “Bharat Bandh” by the Indian media badly hit the country. The response was overwhelming in West Bengal, Kerala Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and other Indian states.

All-India Bank Employees’ Association General Secretary CH Venkatachalam said that services were severely affected in the eastern states. “More than 20 crore workers took part in the bandh,” said AITUC General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur.

Call for the strike has been given by a joint forum of Central Trade Unions against the policies of the Modi government. The joint forum comprises ten trade unions, including the Indian National Trade Union Congress, the All India Trade Union Congress, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the All India United Trade Union Centre and the United Trade Union Congress.

All Indian Trade Union Congress General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur said that banks and insurance sectors have been impacted across the country, while steel and oil sectors were partially hit due to the strike. Kaur said that the entire coal mining area in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh was also impacted. She added that the call for the nationwide strike has received good response in industrial areas of Rajasthan, Karnataka, West Bengal, Delhi, Assam, Telangana, Kerala, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Punjab, Goa and Oddisha.

The strike also hurt essential services including transportation, railways and electricity.

The unions have asked the Indian government to scrap proposed changes in labour laws, privatisation and the National Monetisation pipeline. They are also seeking increased allocation of wages and regularisation of contract workers.

The bank unions are protesting against the government’s decision to privatise public sector banks.

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