Ganjam/Rayagada: Central trade unions are observing a nationwide general strike today. As many as 25 crore workers are expected to participate in the strike “against the anti-worker, anti-farmer, anti-people anti-national policies of BJP Government”. Congress has expressed its support to the bandh.
A statement was issued by a joint forum comprising ten central trade unions – Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC), Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) and United Trade Union Congress (UTUC). The platform also consists of independent federations and associations.
The BJP-aligned Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) will not participate in the strike.
The united front of farmer organisations — AIKSCC — has also extended its support to the general strike and would be mobilising their members in rural areas to express solidarity with the striking workers.
The strike is to protest against the new farm and labour laws, among others, as well as to raise various demands. Scheme workers, domestic workers, construction workers, beedi workers, hawkers, vendors, agricultural workers, self-employed in rural and urban areas have also decided to come on to the streets for ‘chakka jam’.
The demands of the strike include cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month for all non-income taxpaying families and 10 kg free ration per person per month to all needy.
The unions also demanded for expansion of MGNREGA (national rural employment guarantee scheme) to provide 200 days’ work in a year in rural areas at enhanced wages and also an extension of the employment guarantee to urban areas.
They have asked the government to withdraw all “anti-farmer laws and anti-worker labour codes and stop privatisation of public sector including the financial sector and stop corporatisation of government-run manufacturing and service entities like railways, ordinance factories, ports etc.”
They also stressed in their demand to withdraw the “draconian circular on forced premature retirement of government and PSU employees”.
The unions have also put forth other demands that include ‘pension to all’, scrapping NPS (National Pension System) and restoration of earlier pension with improvement in EPS-95 (Employees’ Pension Scheme-1995 run by retirement fund body EPFO).