Barely Covered by the Mainstream Media
The general strike occurred in the context of the devastation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic in India. Added to this are the millions of people who have lost income and who now face increased poverty and hunger, in a country where even before the pandemic 50 percent of all children suffered malnourishment.
by Maria Aurelio (Left Voice)
On Thursday over 200 million workers held a one day general strike in India. They were joined by farmers in mass actions across the country against the right-wing government of Narendra Modi.
On Thursday, some 200 million workers held a one day general strike in India. This massive day of action was called by 10 trade unions and over 250 farmers organizations and was accompanied by massive protests and a near total shutdown of some Indian states. According to the call put out by unions, the general strike was organized against “the anti-people, anti-worker, anti-national and destructive policies of the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Their demands included:
- The withdrawal of all “anti-farmer laws and anti-worker labour codes”
- The payment of 7,500 rupees in the accounts of each non-tax paying family
- Monthly supply of 10 kg of food to needy families
- The expansion of the MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of 2005) to include 200 workdays each year, higher wages, and the Act’s extension to urban industries
- Stop the “privatisation of the public sector, including the financial sector, and stop corporatisation of government-run manufacturing and service entities like railways, ordnance factories, ports, etc.”
- The withdrawal of the “draconian forced premature retirement of government and PSU (public sector) employees”
- Pensions for all, the scrapping of the National Pension System and the reimposition of the earlier pension plan with amendments
Workers in nearly all of India’s major industries — including steel, coal, telecommunications, engineering, transportation, ports, and banking — joined the strike. Students, domestic workers, taxi drivers, and other sectors also participated in the nationwide day of action.
In addition to the demands of the nationwide strike,