In Bengal, several Left supporters took to train tracks in North 24 Parganas district, held a "Rail Roko protest" this morning to support the strike call by trade unions. Crude oil bombs were found on tracks, said railway police. Violence was reported in Jadavpur and Behala. The Left has accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of doublespeak after the state government said it would not support the strike. In Odisha, the strike affected road and rail traffic in Talcher, Bhubaneswar, Brahmapur, Bhadrak and Kendujhargarh.
Congress's Rahul Gandhi supported the protest in a tweet. "The Modi-Shah Govt's anti people, anti labour policies have created catastrophic unemployment & are weakening our PSUs to justify their sale to Modi's crony capitalist friends. Today, over 25 crore workers have called for #BharatBandh2020 in protest. I salute them," he wrote.
The Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra has supported today's Bharat Bandh call by various trade unions, state minister Ashok Chavan said. In its mouthpiece Saamana, the ruling Sena today said: "Six months have passed since the present (BJP) government was formed (at the centre) and neither industries nor the condition of the labourers improved.
In Chennai, where the ruling AIADMK is not supporting the protest, several protesters were detained when they tried to block roads. The government authorities have denied leaves to employees participating in the protest. Factories in Coimbatore and Tirupur are likely to be hit by protest.
The trade unions have put out a 12-point charter of common demands on pay hike, minimum wage, social security and uniform five-day week among others.
Trade union leaders have claimed the government has failed to tackle challenges posed by a crisis-ridden economy and is, instead, busy privatising and selling public sector units (PSUs). The government's actions are "detrimental to the national interest and national development," they said.
A day before the strike, the government warned the trade unions of "consequences" if they joined the strike. "Any employee going on strike in any form would face the consequences which, besides deduction of wages, may also include appropriate disciplinary action," an order issued by the Ministry of Personnel said on Tuesday.
Banking services like deposit and withdrawal, cheque clearing and instrument issuance are expected to be impacted due to Bharat Bandh. However, services at private sector banks are not expected to suffer. India's largest bank by assets, the State Bank of India (SBI), has said that the strike called on January 8 will have a "minimal impact" on its operations as the membership of its bank employees in the strike is "very few".
Apart from the CITU, nine other trade unions that are a part of the strike are: Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC), Self, Employed Women's Association (SEWA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF), United Trade Union Congress (UTUC).
Last week Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar held a meeting with trade union leaders but failed to convince them to call off the strike. The unions are also unhappy about the lack of Indian Labour Conferences - a meeting with the Ministry of Labour and Unemployment - has not been held since 2015.
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