People's Democracy

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


No. 09

March 03, 2013




Strike Action Impacts Life All Over



NORMAL life in Tripura came to a standstill during the 48 hours of general strike called by 11 central trade unions. The usually busy roads of Agartala were empty as the transport workers responded to the strike call. The ever busy inter-state bus terminus at Chandrapur and motorstands at Nagerjala or Radhanagar were completely deserted. Autorickshaws and rickshaws did not ply. The picture at the district and subdivision headquarters was no different.

All the state and central government offices including banks, post offices and telecom offices remained closed. ATMs ran out of cash.Employees organised gate meetings in front of offices in support of the 10 point charter of demands. Schools, colleges and other educational institutes remained closed. All over the state shops barring those selling food and medicines remained closed. The strike was a total success in the Bodhjungnagar industrial growth centre and other industrial estates. Workers in tea gardens did not turn up for work. There were no transaction as no vehicles carrying goods crossed over through the inter-state check-post at Churraibari or the Indo-Bangla land custom station at Akhaurra border. Trains did not move out from or came to the state. The gate at the ONGC’s Palatana gas thermal power project was locked.

Participation of workers engaged in different schemes like MGNREGA, SSA and NRHM was notable. In complete solidarity with the working class, agricultural workers also joined the strike.

Leaders of the trade unions and mass organisations congratulated the working people for this tremendous success of the strike and urged them to prepare for bigger struggles in future.



CONTRIBUTING to the momentous general strike on February 20-21, 1.29 crore workers of Kerala wholeheartedly joined it. State and central government employees, teachers, bank, insurance, telecom and postal employees, workers of ports, airports, public and private factories, of traditional industries and unorganised sectors, peasants and agriculture labourers became a part of the strike. On the second day, normal life was paralyzed as the merchants, shopkeepers and even housemaids joined the strike. All vehicles kept off the road and two-wheelers were the only mode of transport. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere.

Most of the government offices were deserted as the staff disregarded the government’s threat of pay-cut and other actions. IT sector witnessed an unprecedented absence of workers. IT offices at Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram and Infopark in Kochi functioned only partially. Private buses and KSRTC buses were off the roads for two days. Train services were also disrupted.

All educational institutions, factories, ports, banks, insurance offices, shops and container terminal in Vallarpadam also remained closed. Airport staff including those in ground handling and housekeeping also participated, causing disruptions in functioning.

The CITU state secretariat saluted the workers who wholeheartedly participated in the strike.

Hospitals, newspapers and milk distribution were exempted from the strike.



The strike call given by 11 central trade unions received good response in Tamilnadu. Banking services were hit hard and most of the public and private sector banks remained closed. The strike paralysed work in central government establishments, including insurance companies in many cities and towns including Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchi, Madurai, Thirunelveli, Salem and Erode.

Members of the CITU, All India Bank Employees Association and others staged a huge demonstration in Chennai as part of the strike call. In Tiruchirapalli, all workers at the ordnance factory stayed away from work. Work at Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd was also paralysed. Tirupur, the knitwear city, witnessed a bandh like situation with almost all shops and commercial establishments downing shutters and private buses, autos and taxis remaining off the roads. In the city, more than 4,000 knitwear and hosiery manufacturing units downed their shutters. In Coimbatore, attendance in central government offices including post offices and banks was very thin. Though government buses plied as usual, there were very few commuters.

About 70 per cent workers in Tamilnadu Electricity Board and 50 per cent in state government transport participated in the strike across the state. Units of big industries like Ashok Leyland, ACCI, Simsom, IOCL, India Furniture, L&T and SIPCOT in various parts of the state, cement factories and textiles units around the state remained totally paralysed.

Nearly one lakh auto workers, 1.5 lakh tea estate and cashew-nut workers and two lakh knitwear workers struck work.

As a part of the industrial strike, there was total strike in banking industry at the call of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella organisation of nine unions, namely BEFI, AIBEA, AIBOC, NCBE, AIBOA, INBEF, INBOC, NOBW and NOBO. 

Clearing operations in the state came to a grinding halt with instruments numbering around five lakhs and amounting to around Rs 1000 crore remaining uncleared.  

Demonstrations were conducted in hundreds of centres including Chennai, Kanchipurm, Puducherry, Vellore, Krishnagiri, Salem, Erode, Coimbatore, Karur, Trichy, Tanjore, Pudukkottai, Karaikudi, Madurai, Dindigul, Virudunagar, Nellai, Tuticorin, Nagercoil etc, to express the collective anger and anguish of the bank employees.

In Chennai a powerful demonstration with the participation of more than 1000 members including nearly 300 women members has been held in front of the Union Bank of India, Broadway.  

Road rook and rail roko actions were organised at several places in the state. In Thanjavur, Cholan Express was detained by protesters. At Tiruvarur railway station, cadres detained the Mannargudi-Mayiladuthurai passenger. Members of the CITU, AITUC and Kisan Sabhas participated in the rail roko agitation in these towns as well as in Nagapattinam. 

Responding to the strike call by All India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisations (AIFUCTO), members of the JAC-TANSTSAC (Joint Action Council of College Teachers and Tamilnadu Non-Teaching Staff of Aided Colleges) staged a demonstration in front of the office of Regional Joint Director of Collegiate Education in Tiruchi.

Protest rallies were organised in all the districts.



Banking services were hit hard in the union territory of Pudhucherry in response to the nationwide two day strike call by 11 trade unions. Industrial units saw almost total absence of workers. Members of the JIPMER Hospital Employees Union observed a dawn to dusk fast at the hospital in support of the strike. Most shops and establishments in key centres in the heart of the town remained closed. Police pickets were deployed at all vulnerable points.



The two day countrywide strike call evoked good response in Andhra Pradesh, with more than 40 lakh workers and employees directly participating in it. Banking, postal services, insurance sector remained totally paralysed across the state. Lakhs of unorganised workers like hamalies, auto workers, lorry transport workers, rice mill workers and building construction workers participated in the strike enthusiastically.

There was huge response in the crucial Singareni Collieries, with 60,000 out of the total 64,000 permanent employees striking work. Almost all of the 20,000 contract workers participated despite severe efforts by the management to break the strike.

The defence establishments around Hyderabad, MIDHANI and BDL were also affected by the strike with over 50 per cent workers striking work. Central public sector undertakings like the BHEL (R&D) and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) saw over 90 per cent participation. Ranga Reddy district, adjoining Hyderabad, has 23 industrial clusters and 19 of them were badly affected by the strike. Over 98,000 workers in these clusters participated. Another adjoining district of Hyderabad, Medak, saw 902 companies coming to a standstill in 15 industrial clusters due to the strike. Over 1.28 lakh workers in these units struck work.

Workers in government schemes like the ASHA and Anganwadi centres, and mid-day meal workers, also participated in very good numbers.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and AP state secretary B V Raghavulu and CPI state secretary K Narayana visited the strike camp of the United Forum of Bank Unions in solidarity with the striking employees.

In Vishakapatnam more than three lakh workers and employees of various central and state PSUs participated in the strike, effectively shutting down the city. There was 100 per cent strike in Vishakapatnam Steel Plant and Hindustan Shipyard. In Nellore, work was affected in private power projects, steel firms like Tata Steel, Nippo etc. All private lorries stood still. The strike was effective in the private sector Krishnapatnam Port with over 75 per cent workers striking work. Transport sector and hamalies participated in big numbers.

Major pharma units in Srikakulam district like Dr Reddy’s Labs, Aurobindo Pharma etc were shutdown, with 100 per cent participation of workers in the strike.

Workers took out processions in various places after striking work, including a central rally in Hyderabad that was addressed by state leaders of trade unions. The police resorted to arrests in many places.



The strike evoked unprecedented response from industrial workers, those of the unorganised sector units and in Anganwadi, ASHA, mid-day meal scheme and MGNREGA, and also from employees in the BSNL, postal services, banks and insurance offices, transport and power sectors. Shops remained closed for the whole day in several towns like Garhshankar, Mahilpur, Balachaur, Mansa and Raikot, and the traders community came out in support of the strike. The striking workers organised rallies and public meetings in front of their respective industrial units and departmental offices, and also took out processions in the cities, towns and villages to highlight the demands of the strike.

Striking workers also organised road and rail traffic jams at over 100 places in Punjab and Chandigarh.

On this occasion, mass public rallies were organised at  Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Raikot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Rajpura, Patiala, Garhshankar, Hoshiarpur, Balachour, Nawanshaher, Sangrur, Barnala, Moga, Bhatinda, Mansa, Ropar, Jalandhar, Nangal, Mohali, Nabha, Ahmadgarh, Patra, Dhuri, Sonam, Lehra-Mohabbat, Faridkot, Amritsar, Batala, Pathankot and Ghunour, among other places. Leaders of the trade unions congratulated the working class of Punjab and Chandigarh on the unprecedented success of the strike and urged upon them to further widen and intensify the struggle.



The whole state witnessed there was a bandh like situation all over Odisha. All transport including bus, truck, auto-rickshaw and taxi services were totally paralysed while the national highways and other roads wore a deserted look. Train services are totally stopped due to picketing. Shops and commercial establishments, factories, mines, the Reserve Bank as well as commercial banks, NABARD, rural banks and cooperative banks, Life Insurance and General Insurance offices remained closed. Work at the Paradeep Port totally stopped. Central government offices like the RMS, post offices, income tax, Government of India Text Book Press, BSNL, GSI and CPWD were closed due to the total strike.  The FCI was partially affected. Most of the state government offices in districts could not function due to picketing. 

Workers of the CITU, AIKS, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI and SFI took the lead in this historic strike action.

While more than a thousand CPI(M) workers were arrested, the police expressed helplessness to arrest all the protestors.



The nationwide general strike call affected normal life in Manipur with five lakh workers participating in it. They represented 150 organisations in the state, which are affiliated to the AITUC, INTUC, CITU, BMS, HMS, TUCC, UTUC and other independent organisations or federations. No passenger vehicles including inter-state buses plied on the day. Teachers, staff and students remained away from educational institutions while workers and employees picketed the banks, insurance, BSNL, post, telegraph, account and audit offices in the state. Attendance in the state government offices was thin. Work also stopped in several private industrial sites, specially the brick kilns and construction sites. Workers in the central and state sponsored scheme actively participated in the strike. Markets, including the main Khwairamband Keithel which is predominately controlled by women, were deserted. A very important fact is that about 10,000 members of the Village Defence Force (VDF), employed by the state’s Home Department, joined the strike and abstained from duty. Street vendors also participated.

Prior to the strike, the trade unions, employees associations and federations organised meetings in many towns, villages and industrial establishments in the state. The CITU and other trade unions printed 30,000 leaflets and distributed them throughout the state.



The joint platform of central trade unions in Jammu & Kashmir organised a big processions at Jammu on February 21 to press for the strike’s demands. It was a culmination of the mass resentment among workers against the grievous fallout of the policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation for their life and livelihood and of their urge for united action. The processions passed through Dogra Chowk, Jewel Chowk, Gumat Bazaar, City Chowk and Raghunath Bazaar before it culminated in a rally at Indira Chowk. Trade union leaders, including CITU state president Mohd Yousuf Tarigami, Shiv Kumar Sharma and Thakur Raghubir Singh Chib of the INTUC, addressed the rally. Others to speak were Sham Prasad Kesar and Om Parkash (CITU), Arun Kumar Gupta, Ashwani Pradhan and Anil Vaid (banking sector), Dalip Koul and Pawan Gupta (insurance sector), and Balkar Singh and D R Sharma of the AITUC.

On the second day, workers and employees took out several processions, including one from the Parade to Raj Bhawan in Jammu, under the banner of the Jammu & Kashmir Coordination Committee of Trade Unions.

Mohammad Maqbool, JKCCTU president and AISGEF national secretary, addressed the rallyists at Parade. Others to speak were veteran trade union leaders of different departments, like Gurmeet Singh, Ram Kumar Sharma, Bharat Bushan, Ghulam Nabi Reshi, Mohan Lal,   Rukhsana and Jesbir.

Despite the very bad and tense situation prevailing in the Kashmir valley, several tehsil and district headquarters saw demonstrations by employees and workers who defied the government’s threats.



The strike call received magnificent response in Gujarat.

According to the reports received, about 92,000 Anganwadi workers in all the 22 districts, more than 30,000 port workers including those in the Kandla port, over one lakh workers in powerlooms including those in Surat, 45,000 State Transport Workers, 90,000 engineering workers, employees in the income tax and other central departments, state government employees, 12,000 Plastic Workers, PUCL workers and thousands of unorganised sector workers observed the strike and joined the protest demonstrations. Railway workers also took part in the demonstrations.

More than 15,000 municipal safai workers and more than one lakh GIDC workers went on strike. It was a powerful strike at Bhavnagar. In Ahmedabad, more than 10,000 protestors gathered at Lal Darvaja and moved in a procession towards Khanpur Chowk vis Rupali Cinema.



To make the strike successful in Haryana, conventions were organised at the state and district levels, and also in some blocks. District committees of the Sarv Karamcahri Sangh also held extended meetings in all the districts as well as block level meetings.

Five jeep jathas, led by senior leaders of the Sarv Karamcahri Sangh, toured through all the districts and addressed thousands of meetings, creating an environment in favour of strike. The SKS also formed district level jathas to make the campaign successful.

Departmental jathas were formed by departmental unions like the Haryana Roadways Workers Union, All Haryana Power Corporations Workers Union, Nagar Palika Karamchari Sangh, Haryana Tourism Karamchari Sangh and Haryana Vidyalaya Adhyapak Sangh. The SKS published 50,000 handbills for distribution among employees, apart from 10,000 wall posters. These were apart from the posters and handbills brought out by the affiliated unions of the SKS and those brought out by Haryana Roadways Worker Unions and Haryana Vidyalaya Adhyapak Sangh. The SKS also brought out an audio cassette for publicity through announcement by SKS.

There was hundred per cent strike in the roadways, power sector and tourism. It was the first time when the All University Non-Teaching Employees Federation decided to go on strike. Non-teaching staff made the strike in all the ten universities a total success.

Demanding a pay scale equivalent to that in Punjab, ministerial staff were on a continuous dharna at the finance minister’s residence from November 18, 2012. A large number of them joined the strike on February 20-21.

All the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) remained closed for two days.

The All Haryana Power Corporation Workers Union’s call was for a three day strike from February 19 to 21. The union has been fighting against bungling of Rs 108 crore in the EPF and ESI by contractors and principal employers. Due to panic, the state government imposed ESMA and dismissed five union leaders of Barwal (Hissar) subdivision; 3,800 contract workers were also retrenched. The power minister of Haryana, Captain Ajay Singh Yadav, called the union leaders on February 18 and conceded all the demands. On his assurance, the union called off the strike on February 19. But both the power sector unions joined the nationwide strike on February 20 and 21.

A sad and grievous happening took place on February 20 morning --- one activist of the roadways union, Narender Singh, died during the agitation when he was trying to stop a bus from moving. He was cashier in the Ambala Depot. His death infuriated all employees in Ambala district who blocked the GT Road and demanded immediate arrest of the general manager and district level officers of the Roadways transport Corporation who were responsible for the ghastly incident. The police lathicharged the agitating employees twice and used teargas shells to disperse them. This left about 25 employees with serious injuries. But the government had to capitulate before the employees and workers. In a meeting requested by the industries minister of Haryana, the government agreed to various demands raised by employees. These includes a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the family of the deceased, compensatory government job to his daughter in law, a magisterial inquiry into the whole incident to be completed within a month and treatment of all the injured agitators at government expense.



ON February 20 and 21m, along with the rest of the working class, 12 lakh bank employees and officers working in more than a lakh branches of the public sector, private sector, cooperative and regional rural banks, IDBI and Reserve Bank of India struck work on both the days paralysing the banking operations throughout the length and breadth of the country. The officers and workmen of NABARD struck work for a day on February 20. The call for strike was given by United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) comprising five workers’ unions, viz the BEFI, AIBEA, NCBE, INBEF (INTUC) and NOBW (BMS), and four officers’ organisations, viz the AIBOC, AIBOA, INBOC (INTUC) and NOBO (BMS), besides the respective organisations in individual banks. This time the strike was total in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra with the participation of Karmachari Sena, a wing of the Shiv Sena.

Bank employees gathered in thousands and hundreds in more than 500 centres all over the nation and demonstrated on both the days against the anti-people and anti-worker policy of the central government. The notable feature was that a considerable number of women employees were present in all the programmes, proving that they are second to none in opposing the retrograde policies of the government. There were powerful rallies in all the state capitals and the national capital joined by thousands of bank employees and officers.

The clearing operations came to a grinding halt, as a result of which nearly 40 lakh instruments worth approximately Rs 30,000 crore could not be processed due to cent percent strike by part time cleaners to Scale IV officers.

The success of the strike came in face of many odds. There have been threats, intimidations and even physical attacks leading to loss of life. The State Bank officers were under severe attack from the top management, led by its chairman, for the simple reason that they exercised their legitimate trade union right of protesting against the chairman’s announcement for introduction of seven-day banking. The SBI management unleashed repressive measures through chargesheets to top office bearers of the officers’ organisations under false pretexts. Earlier the management was emboldened to file a damage suit for Rs 100 crore against the All India State Bank Officers Federation for ‘lowering’ the image of the bank. This time the management went to the extent of issuing individual letters to all the 80,000 officers, intimidating them that they would face severe disciplinary action and also face break in service if they participated in the strike. But the SBI officers rejected the threat lock, stock and barrel and fully participated in the strike. 

The Reserve Bank management too wrote a coercive letter to the Class III and Class IV employees against participating in the strike. The organisations promptly rejected it contempt and the strike was cent per cent. It is to the credit of the bank employees’ movement that more than 1000 probationary clerks in RBI and thousands of other such bank employees joined the on strike.

Bank employees expressed thankfulness to the CITU for its timely intervention against the vindictive attitude of the SBI and RBI managements. The CITU raised the issue during the talks with ministers and secured an assurance that there won’t be any victimisation.

Since the onset of the neo-liberal economic ‘reforms’ in 1991, bankmen of our country have gone on strike for 47 days before the latest one to defend the public sector banking, to defend the hard earned savings of small and marginal depositors, and thus to defend the national economy. The latest case is, however, unprecedented as this was the first time the entire workforce of banking industry joined hands with the working class of the country.




The two day strike on February 20 and 21 was a grand success in the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). Members and leaders of the LIC Agents’ Organisation of India did everything possible to see that    the strike was successful. They created awareness among the agents, policy holders and public through their branch coordination committees that the strike was to protect the interest of LIC agents and policy holders. Publicity materials were distributed to the branches and conventions held from branch to the state level.   Coordination committees were formed in all the states and in Kerala a business bandh was conducted in advance, on February 8.  As against 3,460 policies sold on this day last year, it was only six policies on February 20. In LIC, the strike was a complete success, and there was no business transaction on these two days, even though the Class I officers of LIC did not participate in the strike.  As far as the LIC agents and employees are concerned, the strike was still stronger on the second day.




The All India State Government Employees’ Federation (AISGEF) congratulated the state government employees and teachers all over the country for having struck work on February 20 and 21 to express solidarity with the working class of India and demand reversal of the retrograde neo-liberal policies of the central and state governments.

According to the reports received by AISGEF leaders from various states, the strike is near total and the government offices in Maharashtra, Kerala, Assam, Tripura, Haryana, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. In Karnataka and Assam, 90 per cent of the employees and teachers went on strike. More than 70 per cent employees and teachers were on strike in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Goa and Jammu, and 60 per cent in Tamilnadu, West Bengal and Rajasthan.  In Andhra Pradesh, the state government itself declared a holiday citing Vidhan Parishad elections. Public sector employees there participated in the strike cent percent.




The All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) congratulated the rural masses across the country for coming forward in solidarity with the working class strike. These masses also pressed their demands for 250 days work at Rs 300 per day wage rate under the MGNREGA; universal public distribution system and distribution of 35 kg of grains at Rs 2 per kg; rejection of the cash transfer scheme; land for housesites and surplus land for cultivation to all landless families; ensured social security, free health and education facilities for all rural wage workers without any discrimination; urgency in taking up cases of atrocities, especially against women and dalits, with exemplary punishment; a comprehensive central legislation for agricultural labour and similar legislation in all states where it does not exist.

The rural masses observed total bandhs in Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura while militant actions leading to arrests took place at mandal headquarters in all districts of Andhra Pradesh. In Haryana actions took place at all subdivisional headquarters. In Tamilnadu, rail and road blocks were held at many places. In Karnataka, agricultural labour and MGNREGA workers stopped work in many places. In UP mass actions took place in 17 districts, notably at Mirzapur, Moradabad, Varanasi, Chandauli, Kashganj and Deoria. In Bihar, seven districts and a number of local areas saw militant actions and widespread strikes. In Punjab agricultural labour came forward in action in all districts. In Maharashtra, the strike was successful in 14 districts including Nandurbar, Dhule, Jalgoan, Amravati, Nanded, Wardha, Kolhapur, Satara and Beed. In Odisha, Assam and Rajasthan too, mass actions took place in a number of districts.