(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 04, 2012
Historic General Strike
countrywide general strike
on February 28, 2012 will be recorded as a milestone in the history of
trade union movement in the country. The working class of the country
magnificently to the call for the general strike given by all the
central trade unions and all
This general strike, the fourteenth after the advent of the neo-liberal economic policies in our country, is significant because of the unprecedented unity of all the central trade unions and the demands raised by them that reflected the concerns not only of the workers but also of all sections of the toiling people. Besides, joint campaigns at the state and lower levels were also conducted this time on a wider scale. The joint campaign undertaken by the central leadership of the trade unions inspired many independent and state level trade unions to join the strike. Thus the February 28 strike will be etched in the annals of our trade union movement as the biggest ever strike action by the working class till date.
The major demands included concrete measures to curb price rise and provide some relief to the people, effective implementation of all labour laws and stringent punishment to those who flout them, universal social security for all unorganised workers by creating a National Social Security Fund with adequate financial allocations, stopping contractual labour in permanent jobs and equal wages and benefits to the contract workers as the permanent workers of the establishment, universal coverage by minimum wages Act and statutory minimum wage of not less than Rs 10,000, pension for all, removal of all ceiling on eligibility for bonus, provident fund etc, and compulsory registration of the trade unions within a time frame of 45 days.
expectations of the
ruling classes that the defeat of the Left Front in West Bengal and the
of the present chief minister to instil terror among the workers in the
would dampen the strike were totally belied by the workers of West
participated in the strike in a big way, facing brutal repression and
all threats and intimidation. The impact of the strike was such that
corporate media, which usually chooses to ignore such actions by the
class, was forced to report about it and highlight the fact that
only in West
Bengal, Kerala and Tripura but in several other states like Assam,
most parts of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh etc a
situation prevailed with public transport coming to a grinding halt and
and markets being completely closed. In many places in
working class of the country for the massive response to the strike all
the country and across the sectors. CITU
saluted the heroic resistance by the striking workers to threats and
intimidating tactics of the state government and the hoodlums of the
party to break the strike in
The strike encompassed workers and employees from almost all the sectors including the strategic sectors as well as the unorganised sector, as the following reports indicate.
Ø Strike was almost total in the entire financial sector in the country including banks and insurance involving around 20 lakh workers and employees.
central public sector units and major industrial
units in the private sector in
total in all the ports in the country; even in
Haldia port, in
Ø Around 6 million state government employees, teachers, employees of state public sector units, boards and corporations covering almost all the states except a few, participated in the strike; even in West Bengal where the government issued threats of break in service and other measures of victimisation for participating in strike, the state government employees responded in a magnificent way.
2000 workers including CITU leaders Manik Sanyal
and Zia ul Alam were arrested in
Ø Central government employees all over the country participated in the strike in a big way; in the defence production sector, participation in the strike was around 80 per cent.
the major defence
PSUs viz., BEL and HAL, the strike was
almost total in all the units throughout the country. Workers in four
BHEL in Trichy, Ranipet,
Ø Majority of the 6 lakhs coal mine workers in nine companies – ECL, BCCL, CCL, SECL, NCL, CMPDIL etc joined the strike; strike was partial in Singareni Collieries; strike was near total in the non coal mining belt spread over Jharkhand, Odisha, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh
Ø More than 70 per cent of the telecom workers and employees in BSNL participated in the strike
The strike in
the petroleum sector - in the upstream,
refineries and marketing - was total in the eastern, north eastern and
parts of the country while more than 70 per cent workers in this sector
western and northern
In the steel
industry, contract workers in eight steel plants
participated in the strike en masse; 90 per cent of regular workers in
steel plant, 85 per cent of them in
Ø The participation of transport workers, particularly of the state road transport corporations in the strike was massive in many states, like Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chandigarh, etc completely paralysing the public transport; in several states private transport workers too responded to the strike magnificently
Ø Electricity workers including the contract workers and daily wage workers participated in the strike in large numbers in many states
Ø In all the states, the unorganised sector workers in brick kiln, construction, head load workers, loading and unloading workers, beedi workers, mandi workers, auto rickshaw drivers, etc participated in the strike in a massive way and also in the rallies, demonstrations, rail and rasta rokos in huge numbers.
Ø Strike was total among the construction workers in the organised sector including in all the Hydel projects in Himachal Pradesh
Ø Around 15 lakh anganwadi employees and lakhs of ASHAs and mid day meal workers participated in the strike; in several states they held demonstrations and burnt the effigies of the government
Ø Overwhelming majority of the 1.5 lakh medical and sales representatives all over the country joined the strike
Ø Lakhs of fishers and fisheries workers all over the country joined the strike
The massive participation of workers of all affiliations and irrespective of any affiliations in the strike indicates their anger and resentment at the attacks on their working and living conditions and the determination to resist them. This was also reflected in the wide support the strike received from the common people. While the Left parties firmly supported the strike, in some states some local political parties also extended their support. The reports received from different states illustrate the area and the spread of the strike.