Bharat bandh: Trade unions express solidarity with JNU students

trade unions strike, banks, central trade unions, bharat bandh, anti-people policies, government, 10 unions, banks, Kerala tourism, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC
Trade Union activists demonstrate as they take out a torch rally on the eve of their nationwide strike in Bhopal. Photo: PTI

Several parts of the country are set to witness a nationwide strike on Wednesday (January 8) called by trade unions against “anti-people” policies of the government.

Nearly 25 crore people are expected to be taking part in the Bharat Bandh and this is likely to affect banking, transport and other services run by state institutions across the country.

The central government, meanwhile, has asked public sector undertakings to dissuade their employees from participating in the ‘Bharat Bandh’ and advised them to prepare a contingency plan to ensure the smooth functioning of the enterprises.

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“Any employee going on strike in any form, including protest, would face the consequences which, besides deduction of wages, may also include appropriate disciplinary action,” said an office memorandum issued by the government.

The government has also asked the Central Industrial Security Force, which guards central government institutions, to deploy more personnel to ensure the safety of employees.

What unions want
  • Trade unions have 13 demands
  • Urgent measures to contain price-rise by “universalisation of public distribution system”
  • Contain unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation
  • Increase minimum wage of workers, with monthly minimum wage set at ₹21,000
  • Ensure a minimum monthly pension of ₹6,000, up from ₹1,000
  • Halt the merger of 12 public sector banks
  • Stop disinvestment and strategic sales of central public sector units
  • No employing contract workers for ‘perennial nature of work’
  • Ensure ‘worker’ status for all scheme workers, such as the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and those in mid-day meals at schools

Kerala tourism exempted

Kerala, ruled by Left-front government, is set to be the most affected although trade unions have exempted the state’s tourism sector from Wednesday’s general strike.

Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society hailed this decision as “exemplary”.

Mamata against bandh

In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress government has said that it does not support the band called by Left parties and unions.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said though she backs protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, she will not support any bandh for the cause.

The state government will operate “22 per cent” more buses during the bandh, transport minister Suvendu Adhikari said.

Also read: Banking services may be hit due to trade unions, banks strike on January 8

The West Bengal Transport Corporation will operate 1,150 buses compared to a daily average of 900, while South Bengal State Transport Corporation will run 826 buses as against a normal of 692, Adhikari said.

The North Bengal State Transport Corporation will run 655 buses compared to a daily average of 605 buses, he said.

The minister said all vehicles registered in West Bengal will be covered by an insurance of up to ₹6 lakh if damaged during the strike and asked that FIRs be registered with 24 hours of any damage to vehicles.

10 trade unions call for bandh

Ten central trade unions like INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC along with various sectoral independent federations and associations had adopted a declaration in September last to go on a nationwide strike on January 8, 2020.

Several banks have already informed stock exchanges about the Wednesday strike and its impact on banking services.

Various bank employee associations, including AIBEA, All India Bank Officers’ Association (AIBOA), BEFI, INBEF, INBOC and Bank Karmachari Sena Mahasangh (BKSM), have expressed their willingness to participate in the strike.

Also read: 10 central trade unions to go on nationwide strike on January 8

Banking services like deposit and withdrawal, cheque clearing and instrument issuance are expected to be impacted due to the strike.

However, services at private sector banks are unlikely to be impacted.

Karnataka and several other states are unlikely to be impacted by the bandh as states have deployed tight security to prevent the forced shutdown.

Schools and colleges will remain open on Wednesday. There will be elaborate security arrangements to prevent those who would compel people for a forced shutdown,” education minister S Suresh Kumar said.

(With PTI inputs)

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