Wednesday will be a rough day, specially for commuters due to the call for Bharat Bandh by a section of the autorickshaw unions. Ten central trade unions had also called for the country-wide strike on 1 September. Apart from transport facilities, banking services are also expected to be adversely affected.
Why the protest?
- The trade unions are protesting the BJP government's labour law and Anti-Worker government policy.
- Initially, the Bharat Bandh was planned for July. As the discussion between 11 trade union leaders and union labour minister, Bandaru Datareya, didn't yield any results for the anti-worker economic policy and labour reforms, it was postponed to September.
- The trade unions had demanded withdrawal of land acquisition ordinance (Modi government has already withdrawn it) and changes made in labour law amendments. They also demanded the government to stop privatisation and foreign investment in the defence, insurance and railway sectors.
- Some additional demands were universalisation of Public Distribution System (PDS), policies to include price hike, banning speculative trade in commodities and improve employment opportunities.
- They had also suggested broadening the coverage of health insurance and provident fund, and an increase in bonus, alongwith an increase in minimum wages of unskilled labour from Rs 7,100 to Rs 10,000 per month. For skilled workers, the demand was to increase the wages from Rs 14,200 to Rs 20,000 and an average wage of Rs 15,000.
- Ten central trade unions participating in the nationwide strike include the Centre of Indian Trade Unions(CITU), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS).
- However the RSS led Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has pulled out from the strike.
Why did the BMS pull out?
- According to Virjesh Upadhyay, General secretary, BMS, "We are happy with the government's initiative to come forward and listen to the unions in such a creative and aggressive manner."
- The BMS claims that the government proposed to increase the bonus ceiling to Rs 10,000 from Rs 3,500 when the trade unions demanded for the removal of all ceilings for bonus. The BMS added that the government also increased the eligibility of the salary limit to Rs 21,000 from Rs 10,000.
- Supporting the government, the BMS said that the trade unions demanded for a minimum wage of Rs 15,000 for all employees and the government proposed to calculate minimum wage and included cost of clothing and food items. The BMS also called for deferring the strike and asked other trade unions to give more time to the government.