Around 20 crore workers of the central trade unions are set to go on a two-day nationwide strike on Tuesday and Wednesday. The trade unions have called the strike to protest the central government's alleged anti-worker policies and unilateral labour reforms.
"As many as 10 central trade unions (CTUs) have joined hands to go on a two-day nationwide strike from tomorrow. We expect 20 crore workers to join the strike. This is the largest number of workers from formal and informal sectors joining the strike against anti-worker policies of the BJP-led central government," Amarjeet Kaur, general secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) told news agency PTI.
At a joint press conference of the 10 CTUs in Delhi, Amarjeet Kaur said that workers from sectors such as telecom, health, education, coal, steel, electricity, banking, insurance and transport are likely to support the strike. Farmers and students' groups are also supporting the strike, said the union leader.
The protesters have planned to march from Mandi House to Parliament on Wednesday and similar marches will be held across the country. Protesters have also planned rail roko and road blockades across the country, said union leaders.
The labour unions alleged that suggestions on labour codes were given to the government but they were rejected. Trade union leaders alleged that the government has "failed to create jobs and grossly ignored" the 12-point charter of demands, which includes minimum wages and social security schemes. The Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on labour issues is unwilling to discuss matters, claimed the trade unions.
In West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government has said no strike will be allowed in the state tomorrow and day after. Employees will not be allowed to take casual leave, said the state government.
Reacting to the Bengal government's order, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said that any attempt to stop the strike would face "resistance from the working class". Affiliated to the Left party CPI, CITU state president Subhas Mukherjee said, "This strike is not against the policies of the state government but against the policies of the central government. So why is the Trinamool Congress opposing it?" Mr Mukherjee accused the Trinamool of being "hand in glove with the BJP."
"Why is she (Mamata Banerjee) opposed to the strike call in the state? It is not against her government. It is a nationwide strike call against the policies of the Modi government. This only proves that the TMC and BJP are both on the same page regarding economic policies and TMC's call to fight against BJP is nothing but a farce," said West Bengal Congress chief Somen Mitra.
Income tax officials of Ghaziabad in the national capital region will also join the nationwide general strike. Around 175 employees from Ghaziabad region and 1,800 from Agra, Dehradun, Muzaffarnagar, Aligarh and Meerut will participate in the strike.
(With inputs from PTI & IANS)