At least 25 crore workers participated in general strike; some states saw complete shutdown: Trade unions

The 24-hour strike was total in several industrial clusters in Karnataka, Telangana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Delhi
Last Updated 26 November 2020, 14:05 IST

At least 25 crore workers took part in the nationwide general strike against the Centre's new farm and labour laws with trade unions on Thursday saying that states like Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Assam and Telangana witnessed a complete shutdown.

The 24-hour strike was total in several industrial clusters in Karnataka, Telangana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Delhi while the unions claimed most of the workers in Kolkata, Chennai, Tuticorin, Kochi, Visakhapatnam and Paradip ports did not attend work.

Strike was near total in the Bengaluru-based public sector units and also to a great extent in the PSUs in Hyderabad region, the trade unions said.

The nationwide protest coincided with the 'Dilli Chalo' protest by farmers' organisations against the controversial farm laws enacted by the government recently.

While the RSS-affiliated BMS is not participating in the strike, ten other central trade unions -- INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC -- called the protest demanding cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month for all non-income tax paying families, 10 kg free ration per person per month to all needy, expansion of MGNREGA to provide 200 days work in a year in rural areas at enhanced wages, and extension of employment guarantee to urban areas.

The trade unions are also demanding withdrawal of "all anti-farmer laws and anti-worker labour codes", stoppage of privatisation of public sector and corporatisation of government-run manufacturing and service entities like Railways, Ordnance Factories and Ports and withdrawal of premature retirement of Government and PSU employees. It also wants pension to all, scrapping the National Pension Scheme and restoration of earlier pension schemes.

The scheme workers, electricity employees, domestic workers, construction workers, beedi workers, hawkers, vendors, agricultural workers, self employed in rural and urban India held demonstrations at various places, even defying police restrictions, the statement said.

"They are forming human chains instead, like in Mumbai and various other districts in Maharashtra. At many places, the auto and taxi drivers have remained off the roads," they said.

The unions alleged that BJP workers with the "tacit support" of the party-led government in Tripura tried to open shops, failing which they attacked and ransacked the offices of the trade unions and the Left parties which supported the strike.

"Around 700 construction workers were arrested across the country, including in Odisha and West Bengal. ‘Preventive arrests’ of CITU leaders were made in Krishna and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh. Trade union activists and leaders were arrested in several other states including Telangana," CITU said in a separate statement.

(Published 26 November 2020, 13:57 IST)

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