The call by ten trade union centres for a general strike on 2 September 2016 received massive support from workers across India.
The general strike jointly called by ten central trade unions saw spirited participation by workers from both public and private, and industrial and services sectors of the economy, including automotive, electronics, coal and non-coal mines, engineering, petroleum, defence production, textile and garments, shipbreaking, telecoms, transport, port and dock, education, and financial sectors such as insurance, banking and state and central government employees.
According to media reports, between 100 and 150 million workers participated in the strike action, but this figure has not been independently verified.
IndustriALL Global Union affiliates across India held protest demonstrations and rallies, including in Chennai, Hosur, Pondicherry, Koraput, Mumbai, Alang, Cuttack, Jamhshedpur, Kolkata, Chandrapur, Nagpur, Pune, Hyderabad, Vishakapatnam, Singareni, Dhanbad and in number of other cities. In many places, including Maruti Suzuki in Manesar and garment factories in Chennai, workers were detained by the police and later released.
Against the backdrop of a series of anti-labour policies, including anti-worker labour law reforms pursued by the ruling National Democratic Alliance, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the trade unions were left with no other option but to go ahead with the general strike to send a strong signal to the government.
All ten national trade union centres, except for Bahartiya Mazdoor Sangh, the trade union wing of the BJP, rejected the recently announced meagre wage hike and went ahead with the strike.
Dr. G Sanjeeva Reddy, president of the Indian National Trade Union Congress and executive committee member of IndustriALL congratulated the workers for a determined and peaceful strike and said:
“The massive success of the joint trade union strike demonstrates workers’ unity and their determination to fight against injustice.
“About 100 million workers participated in the strike. So far the government is merely serving the interests of a handful of industrialists and multinational corporations.
“It no longer can ignore the basic interests and demands of millions of working people in India. If the government does not come to the negotiation table to discuss workers’ demands, we will intensify our protests.”
Today’s national strike is part of series of actions taken by unions, including national conventions, strikes and protests in 30 March 2016, 10 March 2016, 2 September 2015, 5 December 2014, 12 December 2013, 28 February 2012 and a historic march to parliament on 23 February 2011.
IndustriALL affiliates from Pakistan, All Pakistan Federation of United Trade Unions (APFUTU) and from Sri Lanka, Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU) extended their solidarity in support of the strike.
The unions participating in the strike include INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF.
The unions have a 12 point charter of demands.