First-ever Two-Day Nationwide General Strike
The strike called by 11 central trade unions including AICCTU against the pro-corporate and anti workers’ policies was unprecedented throughout the country affecting all vital sectors bringing the life to a standstill. The banking system collapsed. The transport sector has responded magnificently in most of the States. The strike was observed in oil, telecom, mining- coal & non-coal, defence, power, port & dock, insurance, State Government employees. Post offices were on strike; income tax offices have largely been hit by the strike. Industrial workers all over the country have shut down the production. Public and private industrial centres have been heavily affected. The industrial area of Gurgaon and Dharuhera at Haryana remained virtually closed on 21st. In many states trains were stopped and highways were blocked for several hours.
There was unprecedented participation of unorganised labour including largest sections like agriculture, construction apart from other rural and urban workers. Significantly Contract workers have joined the strike in a magnificent way.
The impact of the strike has been considerable in all the States. Several states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Puduchery and Kerala observed complete Bandh. The strike was magnificent in Assam, Orissa, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, U.P. and W. Bengal.
Many areas have reported the incidents of attack on the workers, lathi-charge and indiscriminate arrest. In Noida, there was a brutal lathi-charge on a peaceful demonstration causing serious injuries to a number of workers and death of one worker. Trade Union leaders including 17 AICCTU activists have been indiscriminately arrested, picked up from their offices and homes. A leader of Haryana Transport Corporation union was even killed in Ambala Transport Depot by the miscreants to disrupt the strike.
In Bihar, a complete Bandh was observed. At various stations trains were stopped and different highways were blocked. At Patna, the march to ensure a successful bandh was led by Party General Secretary, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. At Dak Bangla crossing he addressed the gathering and met the leaders of unions of bank, insurance, etc. and addressed them also.
In Jharkhand, the state observed total Bandh in response to the call of CPI(ML). Thousands of workers led by Party and AICCTU came out on the streets to make the Bandh successful in every district. In Giridih, the GT road was blocked from 5 morning to 12 Noon in the leadership of Party’s CC member Manoj Bhakt and MLA Vinod Singh. In Saria, the railway track was blocked; and the Bandh was observed in Rajdhanwar, Jamua, Gandey-Giridih, Koderma, Hazaribagh, Bhurkunda, Dumka, Jamtara, Godda, Deogarh, Bokaro, Dhanbad, Ranchi, Lohardaga, Gumla, Tata, Latehar and Palamu. In Ramgarh more than hundred construction workers held a rally and in party activists organized the Bandh in several areas. In Gola, party activists were arrested while blocking road. In Dumka district also dozens of party activists were arrested. In Ranchi city a big workers’ rally of AICCTU was held which was led by Bhuneshwar Kevat, CPI(ML) state secretary Janardan Prasad, party leader Anant Prasad Gupta and AIPWA leader Sunita.
AICCTU played a leading role in organizing the strike in coal belt in Jharkhand. CCL Ramgarh (Hazaribagh), ECL Mugma area and ECL in W Bengal were in total strike. In Mugma area in Nirsa 100 activists were arrested. At Jarangdih and Swang of Kathara area the activists of AICCTU, CITU and AITUC were arrested. At Bokaro, steel contract workers went on strike in leadership of AICCTU.
In Delhi, there was a massive and spontaneous response of industrial and unorganized workers to the strike call. In Wazirpur industrial area, which was in total strike around 20,000 workers gathered and held a rally on 21st February. Many workers were also arrested here. In Okhla industrial area too, around 10,000 workers gathered and held a rally. Construction workers led by AICCTU held demonstration and rallies.
In Tamil Nadu,-joint demonstrations were held in Chennai city, Ambattur, Chennai, Tiruvellore district collectrate, Kanjipuram, Tirunelveli, Alankulam, Karur, Kumarapalayam, Dindigul, Tiruchi Collectorate in which thousands of workers from both unorganized and organized sectors with state leaders of AICCTU participated. Also there was a massive demonstration at Karanodai which went for more than 1 ½ hours and was addressed by comrades A S Kumar, Janaki Raman (General secretary of state AIALA) and others. Comrades utilised this striking day for door to door collection of money in workers’ residential areas for the successful party Congress. In one factory when contract workers are brought in lorries early in the morning, vigilant workers of AICCTU blocked the vehicles and thwart the attempt to run the factory. In total 3000 workers participated on our initiative at this area. In rural areas of this district, NRGEA work was stopped in 6 panchayats by AIALA vangaurds. In Namakkal cadres of AICCTU implemented strike in powerloom sector, while other unions abstained from enforcing strike. In Tiruchi, public sector BHEL and Ordnance factory came to a standstill. In BHEL, the trade union wing of AIADMK also joined the strike.
In Coimbatore AICCTU affiliated unions at Pricol and Suba plastic firmly went for successful two day strike in spite of pressure from all quarters to reduce it to one day strike. In Tirupur district, Loadmen of AICCTU union in public distribution system almost closed 17 godowns to give a clear message to Governments of state and Centre of their precarious living conditions.
In Pudukottai district, Kandarvakottai Taluk, NRGEA work was completely stopped because of AIALA’s strong propaganda among rural poor about the importance of joining this strike.
In Salem, on AICCTU’s initiative on both days more than 3000 workers took part in the strike. More than 100 workers of AICCTU union took part in Mettur thermal power station.
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy participated in the strike with AICCTU. On 21st, a joint demo with AICCTU at Idinthakarai of Koodankulam was addressed by PMANE leader Dr. S P Udayakumar.
In West Bengal, despite the Chief Minister’s intimidation and threats, the overwhelming working people of the state gave a befitting reply to the autocratic state government by actively taking part in the 48 hour all India General Strike. Workers of the entire industrial belt, from jute, engineering, hosiery, port, coalfields, brick kiln in south Bengal to tea gardens in north Bengal along with the thousands of unorganised sector workers took part in this strike. 16 brick fields participated in this strike defying the terror of TMC hooligans at the initiative of AICCTU at Shibdaspur, 24PGS(N). Transport Workers of Bongoan of the same district also took part in the strike and as a result all export business along Indo-Bangladesh border was stopped. AICCTU workers organised Rail roko at Chandpara 24PGS (N). The construction workers of Konnagar Hoogly, organised a militant rally which was attacked by the TMC hooligans but was valiantly resisted by the workers. Rallies were organised at Budge Budge, 24PGS(S), Nadia, Bardawan, Kolkata and in different Districts.
Apart from joint TU programme, AICCTU along with CPI(ML) took independent initiatives all over the state, organised processions, meetings and Dharnas in different factory gates. The Transport Workers under the banner of AICCTU organised meetings in different Depots and defying the oppressive steps of the state transport dept. took part in the strike.
CITU of West Bengal deviated from the central decision and proposed industrial strike on 21st February exempting transport on the pretext of international mother language day which all other striking TUs opposed. Ultimately, CITU decided to observe 21st as general strike exempting the transport. The TUs belonging to the left front supported this position of CITU but AICCTU opposed it.
In Karnataka, AICCTU had an impressive participation at 5 centres, with hundreds joining the demonstrations, holding road blockade, rallies and enforcing strike. These centres are Bangalore, areas Surrounding ITPL, areas Surrounding Electronic City, Koppal district, Tumkur, Mangalore, Mysore and Davangere districts. In Mangalore an impressive rally was held.
In Puducherry, a total Bandh was observed on 21st February. During picketing 200 activists of AICCTU were arrested at 3 places. In Maharashtra, in Thane district 2 impressive rallies were held at Palghar and Dahanu tehsils by AICCTU. In Nagpur 300 workers under AICCTU banner joined the meeting at Reserve Bank Chowk.
In U.P., a massive strike of unorganized and industrial workers was held in Kanpur. The highway was blocked at Dadar Nagar industrial area. Tanneries were closed. In Lakhimpur a big rally was held. In Deoria, an impressive rally of scheme workers like Anganbadi etc. was held under the banner of AICCTU.
In Rajasthan, hundreds of construction workers under the banner of AICCTU participated in rallies and demonstration in Pratapgarh, Salumbar, Udaipur, Jhunjhunu, Ajmer, Bhabri and Jaipur. In Gujarat, AICCTU activists organized successful strike in sectors like Forest, Water supply and public works.
In Guwahati, trains were stopped where AICCTU leader Bibek Das and several others were arrested. Under the banner of AICCTU construction, contract and ASHA workers participated in the strike throughout the state and held programmes. In Dibrugarh women workers under the banner of AICCTU organized road block and were arrested. In Guwahati Oil refinery, loading and unloading workers affiliated to AICCTU and others held strike. In Tea gardens also, the affiliated union of AICCTU organized strike in several tea gardens. On 21st trains were stopped for several hours at Dibrugagarh and Tinsukia stations by workers led by AICCTU.
In PGI, Chandigarh, the contract workers led by AICCTU were on total strike on the issues of implementation of agreement of same wage for same work and provision of housing. An impressive rally of 700 workers and road blockade was organized at the crossing of sector16-17- one of the most important centres in Chandigarh.
Mansa witnessed a total Bandh in the leadership of CPI(ML) and AICCTU. In Batala, National Highway-1A was blocked for several hours. In several other disticts like Sangrur, Gurdaspur and others, AICCTU took leading role in organizing strike.