Various trade unions and farmers' and teachers' associations across the country are on a two-day nationwide strike beginning today (January 8). The Left parties have called affiliate unions to participate in the strike to protest against the Narendra Modi government. Trade and farmers' unions have said they will stage rail and rasta roko (stop traffic and trains) protests in their respective areas. In some states, educational institutes have declared holidays and transport unions have also extended support to the strike.
Besides this, several bank unions will also be participating in the nationwide strike. The strike does not have a unified agenda and trade unions will be pressing for their own unique demands.
10 things to know:
1) People's collectives like the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan and several unions have announced their support to the two-day strike.
2) The unions have accused the BJP of making "desperate attempts" to change labour laws without taking trade unions into confidence. In a press statement, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, a Left-affiliated body, said the Modi government is wiping out regular employments and payments by unilaterally changing labour laws.
3) Speaking to news agency IANS, Anurag Saxena, the general secretary of CIYU's Delhi unit, said labourers, workers, government and bank employees will participate in the protest. "Industries, factories across Delhi will remain shut tomorrow. Employees of many banks, government departments will also participate in the protest," he said.
4) Similarly, announcing its support to the shutdown call, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "betraying" all promises he had made to farmers in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. AIKS chief Ashok Dhawale said, "Farmers are being dispossessed and forced to sell their labour in the unorganised sector under precarious conditions. This situation calls for greater coordinated actions between the working class and the peasantry."
5) Meanwhile, the ruling party in Odisha, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), has announced that it will stage a protest in New Delhi and raise demands for higher minimum support price for paddy. Odisha Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik will also join the protesters.
6) In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has slammed the Left for organising the two-day strike. The state government said it has made elaborate plans to ensure that routine life is not affected due to the strike. "We do not support any bandh in the state. They (the Left) have pushed the state backwards in their 34 years of rule by calling bandhs. There will be no bandh," Banerjee told reporters.
7) The state finance department has already issued a notification making attendance in government offices mandatory. No Casual Leave for absence either in the first half of the day or in the second on those days will be granted to employees. The West Bengal government will press in 500 additional buses during the strike to ensure that commuters don't face much trouble. Besides this, 20 per cent extra trams will be on the tracks in the eastern metropolis, said an official.
8) In Delhi, the Delhi University Teachers' Association (DUTA) and the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) have extended support to the two-day strike. The JNU administration has urged students to refrain from participating in "disruptive activities". However, Left unions said they will go ahead with the strike in the varsity campus.
9) In Mumbai, news agency PTI reported that around 29,000 employees of the civic run transport service BEST (Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport) are going on an indefinite strike starting Monday midnight. The strike is likely to cause inconvenience to nearly 25 lakh people who travel by BEST buses every day in Mumbai.
10) In Odisha, all educational institutions, including schools, colleges and universities in the state, will remain closed today due to the nationwide strike. The state education department issued a notice in this regard on Monday evening.