All India General Strike:
Workers’ No-Confidence Motion Against UPA Govt.
The all India General Strike of September 7 called by the central Trade Unions met with an overwhelming response from the working class and the masses at large. Even sections of the media recognized it as a second ‘Bharat Bandh.’
The day after the historic September 7 All India General Strike, the Times of India carried an editorial advising unions to "shun bandh politics." The editorial argued, "In a democratic age, bandhs have lost their pre-independence aura and have outlived their purpose. They …reek of the old style of doing politics… With rising literacy and growing economic activity, modern societies search for moderate political methods such as debate, discussions or protests that do not involve public disruption."
We wonder if the paper considers advanced capitalist countries like France and Britain to be 'modern societies' equipped with literacy and all other marks of modernity? What does the paper make of the fact that September 7 was ‘International Action Day’ for workers all over the world, and on that day, millions of French workers poured out on Paris streets against pension reforms, and transport workers of the London metro-rail system observed a 24-hour strike? Why are workers in these unquestionably 'modern' countries showing such zeal for 'outmoded' methods like strikes rather than 'debate and discussion'?!
The September 7 Strike was broader in scope than most previous strikes, and many new sections of workers participated. The effect of the Strike could be seen in ‘No Trade Union Zones’ like Gurgaon, where workers at Honda, Rico, Maruti and other automobile factories struck work and came onto the streets. Transport workers, especially road transport workers in many states including Punjab and Haryana were on strike; in Delhi, the DTC workers held a massive demonstration that was the largest in the last two decades; and in Mumbai, taxis stayed off the streets. In the public sector, the strike was almost total in coal, here even loading and outsourcing workers participated with full strength. In the backdrop of coal privatization, this strike is significant. At the Bhilai Steel Plant, more than 50% contract workers went on strike, which marks a new trend in this sector. State government workers, ASHA and anganwadi workers, para teachers, also participated enthusiastically in many states. Workers in construction, beedi, tea garden, security sectors, head loaders and workers in various industrial sectors joined the strike in large numbers. In many zones, telecom and postal workers too struck work.
However, certain key sections showed vacillation even in this successful strike. While banks and financial institutions largely witnessed a remarkable strike, the SBI branches did not participate, in spite of the fact that their union is led by INTUC, the central TU affiliated to Congress that was nevertheless a part of the strike call. In Chennai, unions affiliated to AICCTU in MRF and Diamond Chain went on strike, but unions affiliated to some other central TUs which were part of the Strike call, did not come forward to make the strike a success. In some public sector units, as also in tea gardens in Assam, some Central TUs appeared divided over the Strike.
Overall, the General Strike was a resounding no-confidence motion passed by India’s working class against the Congress-led UPA Government.