Friday, November 27, 2020

Over 250 million workers and farmers join All India Strike!

Despite repression, a joint general strike by workers and farmers has shut down India. Over 250 million workers took part in the 26 November nationwide strike.

Indian trade unions condemned the arrests of workers’ and farmers’ leaders across the country as they demonstrate together in one of the biggest ever nationwide general strikes.   Indian trade union leaders issued a clarion call to the government to repeal anti-worker labour codes and anti-farmer farm laws as a massive mobilization of industrial and agricultural workers and farmers across the country disrupted normal life across the country, in rural and urban areas.
All over the country, both public and private sector employees participated in the strike. Trade union leaders expressed concerns that, using Covid-19 as an excuse, the government has unleashed widescale repression. Police used violent means to attempt to stop hundreds of thousands of workers and farmers who are on their way to Delhi to demonstrate peacefully in the capital city on 26 and 27 November.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) congratulated the hundreds of millions of workers and peasants across the country for rising as one to protest against the atrocious attacks of the Modi led BJP government, on their, rights, lives and livelihoods and thei anti-worker, anti-people and anti-national policies. Over 25 crore workers, agricultural workers and other sections of toiling people who produce the wealth of the country struck work. They were joined by millions of peasants in the massive protest actions across the country including in remote rural areas.

The atmosphere in several states, including Kerala, West Bengal, Tripura etc resembled a bandh with the transport coming to a standstill and factories, shops, offices and commercial establishments wearing deserted look. In Assam and several other states also there was bandh like situation.

The BJP government, as well as some state governments resorted to repression. The Delhi police under the government of India did not allow the workers and peasants to gather and arrested many of those protesting in Jantar Mantar, manhandled and arrested P Krishna Prasad, an office bearer of All India Kisan Sabha and Mayukh Biswas, General Secretary of Students Federation of India and many others.  The BJP government in Haryana sealed the borders with Delhi and resorted to midnight raids and arrest hundreds of peasant and trade union leaders. But they could not deter them from marching on and coming to national capital. Simultaneously, multiple numbers of dhanas were held in all the place of police-blockade by thousands of people.   

The countrywide general strike on 26th November also received huge international attention and solidarity. In addition to the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) solidarity messages were also sent by scores of its affiliates, and also many other international trade unions fighting against neoliberalism in their own countries.

CPI (Marxist): Huge success of countrywide protests

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The Polit Bureau congratulates the working class, peasantry and agriculture workers all over the country for observing very successfully protests against the anti-national, anti-people policies of the Central Government, particularly large scale privatisation and loot of national assests, abrogating labour laws and new agri laws. The call of the central trade unions was for a nationwide general strike today. The kisan and agricultural workers organisations will continue with their protests tomorrow as well, in accordance with their call.

These successful protests are taking place despite severe repression, intimidation and largescale arrests across the country particularly in BJP ruled states. All the entry points on the highways connecting Delhi were heavily barricaded to prevent kisan and agricultural workers from reaching Delhi for their protest before parliament. Wherever they were stopped with tear gassing or heavy water cannons in this cold wave conditions, the highways have been blockaded by the protesters.

The general strike called by the trade unions have received immense response all across the country. The strike in public sector undertakings were more effective this time than earlier. All major ports, PSUs like HAL, BHEL, BEML, BEL, steel plants in Vizag, Salem and Bokaro, coal and iron mines, electricity sector, public transport works, road transport including truck operators; construction workers, headload workers, beedi workers and scheme workers like anganwadi, Asha, mid-day meal workers struck work along with medical and sales representatives, sections of IT employees and central and state government employees all across the country.

Kerala witnessed a virtual bandh like situation with an estimated 1.6 crore workers and peasantry participating in the protests. Despite physical attacks on striking workers by the ruling TMC goons in West Bengal, the strike was a big success, total in the jute mills, private bus transport, steel factories and 80 per cent in cement, banking and insurance sectors, apart from government employees. 
In Tripura, despite the ruling BJP government’s attacks and its directions to keep all establishments open and functioning and resisting attacks by BJP’s anti-social elements, the protest turned into a virtual bandh. Likewise, in BJP ruled states of Assam, Karnataka, Bihar and elsewhere the protests were a big success.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemns the repression unleashed by the central and state governments controlled by the BJP. The central government and PM Modi must now reconsider, in the face of such widespread anger and protest by India’s working people, annadatas, agricultural workers and workers in the unorganised sector, its anti-national and anti-working people policies that are ruining the livelihoods of crores of our people and imposing greater misery in the country.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly demands that the central and BJP state governments surrounding Delhi stop this repression and permit our kisan and agricultural labourers to exercise their constitutional guarantees for peaceful protests against the retrograde agri laws tomorrow i.e. November 27.