21st May General Strike
Workers Say No to Disinvestment
The All India General Strike on 21 May, called by 7 central trade unions to protest the disinvestments, privatization and retrenchment policies of the government, was an unprecedented success, evoking a strong response across the country. AICCTU and CPI(ML) ensured militant participation and success of the bandh at several centers.
In Bihar, government offices remained shut under the impact of the bandh, at Patna, Rohtas, Aurangabad, Gaya, Bhojpur, Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Champaran, Saharsa, Supaul, Madhepura, Darbhanga and other centers. Organisations of employees and unorganized sector workers held picketing for hours at various offices. At Patna, several offices spontaneously remained shut, and the Secretariat was seriously affected by the bandh. Apart from this, bank and insurance sector, road transport, Pataliputra industrial area and even private sector companies were fully on strike, while bank and insurance employees held protest dharnas and mass meetings at their banks. At Samastipur station, railway workers held a dharna In Patna, activists of AICCTU , AIPWA, AISA, Bihar Pradesh Kisan Sabha and Khet Mazdoor Sabha marched on the streets to implement the bandh. The Bihar Pradesh Khet Mazdoor Sabha held dharnas at all block headquarters across the state.
In Jharkhand, the State-wide Bandh which had been called by CPI(ML) and other Left parties was a great success. In particular, the Bandh focused on the sell-out of the Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), and in addition to opposing disinvestments, demanded panchayat polls in Jharkhand. At Ranchi, thousands of bandh supporters led by CPI(ML) State Secretary Comrade Subhendu Sen, CPI(ML) MLA Mahendra Singh and AICCTU State Secretary Tarun Sarkar were arrested. In the coal sector, the strike was total, paralyzing all operations of collieries. At Lohardaga, production and transport was totally paralysed at the bauxite mines. The Grand Chord Railway Line passing through Jharkhand was blocked at several places, notably at Mugma station in Dhanbad district and Hazaribagh Road Station in Giridih district, for as long as five hours. The GT Road and other national highways were also blocked. The GT Road was blocked at Bagodar in Giridih district and at Nirsa in Dhanbad. The Ranchi-Patna Highway and Ranchi-Tata Highway were also blocked. In addition, In addition, bank and insurance institutions as well as schools and colleges remained closed.
In Giridih, thousands of activists hit the streets led by CPI(ML) Central Committee member Ibnul Hasan Basru. Coal workers of BCCL and ECL came on the streets under the banner of Coal Miner Workers Union (CMWU) and those in other industrial areas under the banner of Jharkhand General Mazdoor Union.
In Tamil Nadu, the bandh evoked a powerful response amongst the workers of the unorganized sector – especially powerloom and beedi workers, as well as employees of the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation, and workers of most industrial estates. In Ambattur insustrial estate of Chennai our comrade went to close factories.
In Assam, AICCTU led the bandh mobilizations in many places. Train services were stopped and several trains were rescheduled or cancelled. At Guwahati station Left-led organisations arrived in large numbers to stall movement of trains during the general strike.
In Rajasthan, road were blocked by our trade union activists in both Udaipur and Jhunjhunu, and in Jaipur and Banswara along with other trade unions. Construction labourers participated in pro-bandh demonstration in sizeable numbers.
At Delhi, the AICCTU-affiliated DTC Workers Unity Centre held a massive day-long dharna at the DTC headquarters. Workers held processions in industrial areas in support of the strike. At Ludhiana, activists of CPI(ML) and Mazdoor Mukti Morcha held a dharna at the DC office. There are reports of widespread participation from UP, West Bengal, Pondicherry and Andamans too.
In a statement congratulating the working class on the success of the strike, CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya said, “the success of the strike is an effective pre-election warning to the government. The wide response evoked by the strike must open the government’s eyes to the growing opposition to its anti-people, pro-imperialist policies of liberalization, privatization and globalisation.” He further said that “the least that the government must do is to halt the disinvestments and privatization moves and wind up the Disinvestments Ministry.”