Trade union strike: A show of strength against Narendra Modi government

Mumbai: Thousands of employees from government and finance sector along with Angawanwadi employees and Asha workers gathered at Azad Maidan on Wednesday to protest privatisation policy brought by the Narendra Modi-led union government. Vishwas Utagi, convenor of Joint Action Committee of labour unions which has called the nationwide strike claimed the protest was not remained limited to oppose anti-labour economical reforms but also the political oppose to Modi government.

In a strike, employees from railways, banks, insurance companies, port trust, coal industries, public sectors, transport, BEST, taxi and auto unions, labour, mathadi unions, contractual workers, anagwanwadi workers, Aasha workers, teachers, professors, gram panchayat employees, nurses, municipal council employees and many participated.

“More than 25,000 employees gathered at Azad Maidan who shouted slogans against the government,” claimed Utagi. As out of nine organisations, only two bank organisations had participated in the strike and hence banks remained functional. However, the response in other sectors was tremendous. Presence of employees in post offices, insurance companies, port trust and other establishments were poor,” he said.

The strike was against the privatisation policy of the union government. “Since last five years, no public sector have renewed agreement of wage increment. Our demand is the minimum wage of the contract labour should be Rs 18,000 per months, 12 per cent of the total union budget should be allocated to security sectors which includes, education, health, pension, gratuity and others,” said Utagi.

Srinivas Bobade, assistant secretary of Subordinate Engineers Association (SEA), an organisation of engineers from power sector, said that they were on strike for two days.  On January 7, it was statewide strike and January 8 was nationwide. We are opposing anti-labour and restructuring of Mahavitaran policy. It will reduce number of employees and ultimately the service to the consumer will affect,” said Bobade.

He said, they have no any demand to increase in salary and no other financial related demand. “We want better service be given to consumers,” he said. He claimed Amendment in Indian Electricity Act-2003 will allow government to give free hands to franchisee to handle hydro power stations. “It is just like playing with national security by handing over hydro power stations like Koyna and others in the hands of private players. It will also increase the production cost of electricity which is much cheaper than power generation by coal and by wind,” he said.

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