People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 17, 2006
AGAINST ANTI-WORKER, ANTI-PEOPLE POLICIES OF UPA GOVT
6 Crore Strike Work!
A view of the usually bustling Dalhousie Square, near Writers Building in central Kolkata
THE countrywide strike call by the Sponsoring Committee of the Trade Unions, comprising major central trade unions and independent federations evoked an overwhelming response throughout the country on December 14 with over six crore workers observing a general strike against the economic policies of the UPA government.
The strike became a total bandh in the states of Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal from the midnight of December 13 itself. A bandh-like situation was witnessed in Assam and Jharkhand while in Karnataka and a number of other states bandh-like situation developed in several districts.
The strike, eleventh in the series since the introduction of the IMF-World Bank-dictated liberalisation drive, had been called by the major central trade unions –CITU, AITUC, UTUC, UTUC-LS, HMS, AICCTU and independent federations of workers of various sectors of the economy – in pursuance of the 16-point demand charter adopted unanimously by the National Convention of Workers held in Delhi on July 25, 2006. Among the demands included an end to State-sponsored violation of labour laws, reversal of anti-people economic policies and enactment of comprehensive legislations for the unorganised sector and agricultural workers.
Addressing a joint news conference in New Delhi on the afternoon of December 14, CITU president M K Pandhe said the response to the strike call was beyond the Sponsoring Committee’s expectations. “Today’s action was the biggest-ever action of the working class against the wrong economic policies of the government. In the major sectors of the economy, the strike was total. More than three lakh defence workers also joined the strike”, he said.
Pandhe said even new sections of the working class like the income tax, audit and postal service employees joined the strike. State government employees also participated in large numbers. This time, even teachers joined the action in big strength, he said. Airport employees also organised dharnas all over the country, he added.
Warning the government against ignoring the feelings of the workers, Dr Pandhe said if the government does not take note of the workers’ sentiments, the trade unions will have no option but to organise still bigger action programmes.
The news conference was also addressed by leaders of other participating central trade unions.
Below we give brief reports from states other than Bengal, Kerala and Tripura:
The strike was successful in the state, including PSU units. The administration let loose repressive measures against the workers. The police arrested around 500 government employees and teachers. Rail roko and rasta roko was held in Vijayawada. No procession has been allowed in the state and several leaders have been arrested in many centres. Railway and other workers demonstrated in different parts of the state.
The strike was almost complete in the state. In Guwahati, public vehicles, including private city buses, auto-rickshaws were off the road. Workers picketed the Bus terminals and Railway station. Train services were suspended including Guwahati-New Delhi Rajdhani Express. The Railway police arrested picketing workers and several leaders.
In Silchar, the Deputy Commissioner took law in his own hand and brutally beat up the peaceful picketers, seriously injuring several workers, including women. A total of 1000 workers were arrested.
Bank, LIC, BSNL, Postal, Defence, Motor Transport and state and central government employees participated in the strike. In Guwahati 800 workers arrested by the police.
In the Oil sector in the state, the strike was almost total. BRPL, NRL and in Digboi, the strike was complete. However, in Guwhati Refinery the strike was partial.
The strike was a huge success in Bihar. Bank, LIC, central and state government employees joined the strike en masse. Strike in oil sector, including refineries was complete. More than 300 Railway contract workers were on dharna in Patna Railway station. Thousands of workers were arrested. Chakka jam was organised in Sahababad, Begusarai and other places. In Patna, unorganised sector workers and state government employees courted arrest. In North Bihar, the striking workers stopped trains and rail traffic was disrupted. More than 5000 workers arrested through out the state.
Bank and insurance sector was completely paralysed in Delhi. In the suburbs of Ghaziabad, the strike was total with the INTUC joining the strike here. Both in BEL & CEL all categories of employees went on strike. Industrial areas like West Delhi, North Delhi, Mongolpuri, Wazirpur, Okhla were partially affected. Police lathicharged workers in Patparganj. Workers also resorted to rasta roko. Several rallies of thousands of workers were taken out in Ghaziabad, Faridabad and different areas of Delhi. In Rafi Marg, around hundreds of journalists and non-journalist media workmen participated in a rally which disrupted the traffic. DTC workers unions jointly organised a big rally at IP Depot. Teachers and non-teaching staff joined the strike in Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru Universities.
Sabarkantha district in Gujarat witnessed partial strike in ceramic industry
Complete strike was held in Haryana Road Transport Corporation. Industrial areas in Panipat, Gurgaon, and Faridabad were severely affected by the strike. Police lathicharged the striking workers in Jhajjar, Sonepat and Gurgaon. Large numbers of workers were arrested in Haryana. Several workers were suspended for participation in the strike. The High Court banned the strike in the state but the workers defied the ban and participated in the strike.
The strike was generally a success throughout the state including in the hydel-power projects. In Shimla, all banks, government offices and educational institutions witnessed near total strike.
Jammu & Kashmir
The state government employees were on complete strike. The strike was complete in central PSUs in Srinagar. Workers took out an impressive procession to Lal Chowk.
The strike was total in coal, bank and insurance sectors. Coal production and transport was totally paralysed. Private security guards resorted to firing in Rajrappa project of CCL. Around 600 workers were arrested in Hazaribagh, Bokaro and Ranchi districts. Train services were badly affected. There was complete strike in Bauxite industry in Lohargada and Indian Explosives factory. HEC and Bokaro steel plant reported partial strike. Road transport services were seriously disrupted and markets were closed.
A bandh-like situation was witnessed in 6 districts of the state. The state and central government employees participated in the strike en masse. The state government issued orders threatening severe action against employees participating in the strike as also the organisers. Disregarding the threats, almost all government employees joined the strike. In Bangalore, in all PSUs, except ITI, the strike was 100 per cent success. In ITI, the strike was partial. In BEL, INTUC and BMS unions also joined the strike.
Coal industry witnessed a total strike. The strike was total in the National Fertiliser Ltd in Guna. In Jabalpur, in the Defence ordnance factory, the strike was nearly 90 per cent. Anti-social elements attacked the striking workers and 100 people were injured. The police resorted to lathicharge on the workers of Ordnance factory. The BJP state government arrested 7000 strikers. Bidi workers were on complete strike.
Industrial strike was near total in the state. Port & Dock operations came to a complete standstill. Banks, insurance, central and state government employes, anganwadi, home-based, gram panchyat and electricity workers also joined the strike. A rally of 7000 workers was held in the heart of the city. Train services were affected at two places where rail roko was held. Total strike was witnessed in banking and insurance sectors, while over 80 per cent of teachers in all educational institutions participated in the strike.
Normal life in this union territory was affected due to the strike. There was complete strike in LPG Bottling plant. Over 1000 workers, including women, were arrested during the strike.
The state witnessed total strike affecting all sectors, including power and transport. Rasta roko was staged in Sangrur, Mansa, Batinda, Amritsar etc.
The strike had an impact in the entire state. In Jaipur over 3000 workers took out a procession. In Kota, joint demonstrations were held before the Collectorate and memorandum addressed to the prime minister was handed over by the workers.
In Tamilnadu, workers in almost all the major industrial establishments in and around Chennai joined the strike. Among them were Ashok Leyland, Ennore Foundries, Simpson Group of Companies, EID Parry Fertiliser, MRF, WIMCO, Carborundum Universal, and Bharat Electronics. In State Transport Corporation, State Electricity Board and Civil Supplies Corporation, the strike was partial. Over 10,000 workers courted arrest in Chennai alone. In LIC, GIC, Bank and Defence, the strike was total. Large number of workers in Kalpakkam Atomic Power complex joined the strike. Strike in Neyveli Lignite, BHEL, Salem Steel was partial. Indian Oil and Indo Burma petroleum workers and employees have fully participated in the strike. In Tiruppur garment industry, the strike was almost total. Unorganised workers in auto rickshaws, construction, beedi, headload, handloom, tailoring etc also joined the strike and held rasta rokos. In Chennai, thousands of workers, including state office bearers, were arrested while picketing in various centres.
All industrial centres in the state witnessed a complete strike. In Noida, AICCTU, AITUC, CITU and HMS workers organised rasta roko and courted arrest. Power workers staged a boycott. Unorganised sector workers massively participated in the strike throughout the state.