WORKINS congratulates the Indian trade union movement on its huge general strike on Friday, September 2, 2016, which involved 180 million workers. The union action was against the anti-worker and anti-people policies of Narendra Modi’s BJP government. A similar strike at the same time last year mobilised 140 million workers. This year’s strike had a sharper focus on defending public sector workers and fighting privatisation.
The September 2 strike is an inspiration to trade unions and workers everywhere, especially in the struggle to lift minimum wages and to mobilise the unorganized.
WORKINS supports the call for the end of contractorization on all aspects of work, not only in permanent or perennial working arrangements!
WORKINS condemns the police violence and calls for the immediate release of the 34 workers and union leaders arrested in Gurgaon, West Bengal!
The Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal used the brutal force of its police as well as its goons to physically attack the workers on strike. There were clashes in several districts as workers resisted the use of force. Section 144, which bans gatherings of 10 or more people in a specific area, was imposed in several industrial areas – Gurgaon, Faridabad in Haryana, Nodia etc. 12 workers of Maruti Suzuki and 22 transport union leaders were arrested in Gurgaon. Police went to workers’ residential areas in Gurgaon to coerce contract workers who were on strike, to join work. The West Bengal transport minister directed the suspension of striking employees. TMC (Trinamool Congress Party – the ruling party in West Bengal) goons attacked processions of striking workers, youth, women and even journalists in Burdwan and many other places.
Employees and workers from all sectors of the country’s economy – organised and unorganised, public sector and private sector, central and state government departments, and the scheme workers participated in this strike. In all the strategic sectors of the economy – coal and non-coal mines, electricity, engineering, petroleum, defence production, telecom and the financial sector like banks and insurance – the workers and employees took part in the strike in a big way, well beyond the organised membership of the 10 union centers.
The strike was well-prepared by the Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions (CTUs) along with Independent National Federations of employees of different industries and services including the Confederation of Central Govt. Employees and Workers
Last-minute concessions by the Finance and Labour Ministries, including a 104-rupee (US$1.57) rise in unskilled workers’ daily minimum wage to 350 rupees (US$5.27), could not ward off the strike. The union demand was for a 692 rupee (US$10.43) daily minimum wage.
Just one major union pulled out of the national strike after this wage concession: the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, which, like the ruling BJP, is an affiliate of the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
There had been no negotiations between the Modi government and the union movement since prior to the 2015 General Strike.
12 Point Charter of Demands of Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions submitted to government:
- Urgent measures for containing price rise through universalization of public distribution system and banning speculative trade in commodity market.
- Containing unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation.
- Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measures for violation of labour laws.
- Universal social security cover for all workers.
- Minimum wage of not less than 18000/- (US$272) per month with provisions of indexation (for unskilled worker).
- Assured enhanced pension not less than 3000 (US$42.50) p.m for the entire working population (including unorganized sector workers).
- Stoppage of disinvestment in Central/state public sector undertakings.
- Stoppage of contractorisation in permanent/perennial work and payment of same wage and benefits for contract workers as that of regular workers for the same and similar work.
- Removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus, provident fund and increase in quantum of gratuity.
- Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of submitting application and immediate ratification of ILO conventions C-87 and C-98.
- No Foreign Direct Investment in Railways, Defence and other strategic sectors.
- No unilateral amendment to labour laws.
Demand of the Central Govt. Employees
- Avoid delay in implementing the assurances given by Group of Ministers to NJCA (National Joint Council of Action) on 30th June 2016, especially increase in minimum pay fitment formula. Implement the assurance in a time bound manner.
- Settle issues raised by the NJCA, regarding modifications of the 7th CPC (Central Pay Commission) recommendations, submitted to Cabinet Secretary on 10th December 2015.
- Scrap PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority) Act and New Pension System (NPS) and grant Pension/Family Pension to all Central Government employees under CCS (Pension) Rules 1972.
- No privatization, outsourcing, contractorisation of Government functions.
- (i) Treat Gramin Dak Sevaks [Gramin dak sevaks are extra-departmental agents recruited by the postal department to serve in rural areas] as Civil Servants and extend all benefits on pay, pension and allowances of departmental employees.
(ii) Regularise casual, contract, contingent and daily rated workers and grant equal pay and other benefits.
- Fill up all vacant posts by special recruitment. Lift ban on creation of new posts.
- Remove ceiling on compassionate appointments.
- Extend benefit of Bonus Act amendment 2015 on enhancement of payment ceiling to the Adhoc bonus/PLB (Productivity-Linked Bonus) of Central Govt. employees with effect from the financial years 2014-15. Ensure payment of revised bonus before Pooja holidays.
- Revive JCM [Joint Consultative Machinery] functioning at all levels.
Send a message of support
Your union can send a message of support to the Indian workers’ struggle at
New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) firstname.lastname@example.org
Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) email@example.com
Sept 12, 2016. Authorised by WORKINS (Workers international Struggle Initiatives) and ILPS Workers Commission (International League of Peoples Struggles)
Download pdf of this statement here.