People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 08

February 24, 2013


Overwhelming Response to Strike Call


ON February 20, 2013, the central trade unions, viz the BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, AICCTU, UTUC, TUCC, SEWA and LPF, congratulated the working people of India for their overwhelming and magnificent response to the united call of two day countrywide general strike that commenced on the same morning. The joint statement issued by the trade unions on the day said, the “unprecedented response to the call of strike throughout the country, much beyond our expectations, reflects truly the anger of the people against the persistent increase in the prices of diesel, gas, coal, electricity and other essential goods for the bare need of the common people.” The trade unions also said the strike was also a protest against the total inaction of the government to address the basic problems of the workers arising out of the inflation and slowdown of the economy. 


It will be recalled that the central trade unions, supported by thousands of unaffiliated unions, had given the two day strike call on the basis of a 10 point charter of demands of the workers, as approved by an all-India convention held at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on September 4, 2012.


The strike on February 20 turned out to be totally peaceful. Even then, however, there have been attacks on the workers, lathicharges and indiscriminate arrests. In NOIDA, there was brutal lathicharge on a peaceful demonstration, causing serious injuries to a number of workers and the death of one worker. Also, a leader of the Haryana Roadways Corporation Union, affiliated to the AITUC, was killed in Ambala Transport Depot by the miscreants who were out to disrupt the strike.


The central trade unions pointed out that the strike had been all out throughout the country, affecting all vital sectors and bringing the life to a standstill. The banking system came to a collapse. The transport sector responded magnificently except in two states --- Delhi and Maharashtra. There has been a massive strike in the petroleum sector, telecom, mining, coal, defence, power (including atomic power projects), port and dock, insurance, plantation, state government offices etc. Post offices remained closed; income tax offices were largely hit by the strike. Industrial workers all over the country halted production. Public and private industrial centres were heavily affected.


The central trade unions also noted that unorganised workers in agriculture and non-agriculture occupations, those in rural as well as urban area, the Anganwadi and ASHA workers also participated in lakhs. Contract workers joined the strike in a magnificent way. 


The strike was magnificent in all the states from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat and from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The big impact of the strike was widely felt in Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Kerala, Andhra, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and other states. Despite the vindictive and victimising threats issued and attacks launched by the state government machinery in West Bengal, response to the strike was splendid.  There was strike also in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. In Goa the strike was inspiring. Even in Meghalaya where elections are to be held on February 23, there was strike in Shillong, the state capital.


While congratulating the workers for the strike, the central trade unions asked them to continue the strike on the next day and build up massive pressure on the government for a change of policy and for peaceful settlement of their 10 point demands.


The unions also said the right to strike is a constitutional right and that no state government has any authority to break a peaceful strike with indiscriminate use of the state machinery. They urged upon the government to realise the gravity of the situation and the unparallel anger among the masses, and to take corrective steps having a meaningful dialogue with the trade unions.