Socialist Worker

Unprecedented strike in India shows growing workers’ anger

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2293

Millions of workers took part in what is being described as India’s biggest ever general strike last week.

Workers in mining, banking, transport and other sectors joined the mass stay away.

They demanded government action to combat spiralling prices, a universal minimum wage and new protection for non-union workers.

The scale of the strike took many by surprise.

For the first time all 11 of India’s union federations took action together.

In some areas their numbers were swelled by thousands of unorganised workers.

The action was particularly strong in states that had until recently been governed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

In West Bengal and Kerala, the party was anxious to prove it was still a force to be reckoned with, despite a drubbing in last year’s elections.

Anger at the Communists for implementing neoliberal policies has led many workers to abandon the party.

But poor people’s hatred of the bosses and the government remains strong.

“We are fighting for our rights against a government that is anti-people,” said All India Trade Union Congress general secretary, Gurudas Dasgupta.

His words found a ready echo in West Bengal’s capital Kolkata where police and hired thugs tried to intimidate strikers, and police arrested many.

The state government tried to break the transport strike with its own buses.

But the city remained paralysed as railtracks were blockaded and autorickshaw drivers stayed off the streets.

The scale and success of the strike should increase the pressure on unions to call more action.

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Tue 6 Mar 2012, 18:39 GMT
Issue No. 2293
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