Red Salute to the country’s working class for a successful general strike!
The Indian working class carried out a successful general strike on February 20-21 under the leadership of the Trade Union organisations for their demands to put a stop to the price rise, for increasing the minimum wages, against the contract labour system and against the privatisation of public property.
Ignoring the warning of the UPA government and the Supreme Court to not strike, crores of workers, from various sectors of the economy, participated enthusiastically in the strike. The threats of a day’s wage cut, disciplinary action or denial of leave for the day did not deter the workers.
The working class demonstrated a historic unity in the strike. The working class spoke for the people who are being crushed by the price rise. Thousands of workers united to organise rallies and took out demonstrations in large industrial estates across the tehsils/ districts of the country. They expressed their anger with the government through the slogans like – Inquilab Zindabad! Down with Capitalism! We cannot remain mute witnesses to our bad conditions! Working class will become the rulers! Stop handing over public property for private gain! Stop the price rise! Provide job security to all!,etc,.
Workers participated with broad unity in the rallies and demonstrations in which they rose above differences between small and large unions or differences in the colours of their flags. As the workers marched in rallies from their originating location, thousands of other workers greeted them who were enjoined into the rally. The workers who gathered alongside the rallies, did not remain mere witnesses but joined the demonstration against the anti-worker, anti-national and anti-people policies of the government.
Meetings were organised in the course of the strike in front of factory gates, public and private enterprises. Working class leaders who addressed the various rallies and demonstrations country-wide gave the assurance that the agitations would intensify in the coming days.
Responding to the complaints of the capitalist organisations on the loss that would be caused by the strike, the working class leaders pointed out, “the working class bears the burden of loss, not the capitalist!” “We produce the country’s wealth, not the capitalists!” “The capitalists only appropriate the profits!”
Work was brought to a complete standstill across the country in the Banking sector, Insurance sector, Tax departments, Telecommunications departments, Postal departments, Defence organisations, CAG, Oil & Gas industry, and mining.
Heavy and engineering industry like Hindustan Aeronautics, BHEL, BEML, Indian Telephone Industries, HMT and others were completely shut down during the strike.
Workers from large corporations participated in the strike in large numbers in Chennai, the capital city of TN. Huge rallies were taken out in Guindy, Amabattur, Maraimalainagar and Sriperambuthur areas. Work was brought to a complete standstill in the central government offices. The strike impacted the textile, horticultural and engineering industries in the state. Teachers and non-teaching staff of colleges participated in the strike. Lakhs of garment workers in Tiruppur went on strike. Inter-state transport vehicles did not ply between Kanyakumari and Kerala. Rallies were organised in Nagarcoil, Tekkady and Melpur.
In Mumbai, the two principal ports and docks were closed. Workers of hospitals and health services wore black bands to protest the anti-people policies of the government, as they went about their work.
Workers at all levels of the Construction industry took part in the strike in various states. School and college teachers and non-teaching staff took part in the strike in various states, which also saw the shutting down of shops and markets.
Workers in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi participated militantly in the strike.
Autos and taxis struck work in Delhi, Bengaluru and Cuttack. Public transport services remained closed since midnight of February 19th in UP and Haryana.
Manufacturing units in the industrial areas of Delhi and NCR, as in Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad, Sahibabad, Manesar, Daruheda and Bhiwadi remained totally shut. Workers of the auto sector in Gurgaon, which has been the site of recent struggles, stayed away from work completely. The gates of Maruti Suzuki India, Suzuki Power Train, Suzuki Bikes, Hero Motor Corporation, Honda Motorcycles, Scooter India Ltd., Rico Auto, MunjalShova, Sunbeam, Bajaj Auto, Senior India, Ranbaxy, Hero Motors and such large Indian and multinational factories remained locked.
The bourgeoisie cunningly tried break the strike, but they could not succeed. Besides threatening workers, the government tried to engage the trade union leaders in consultation with its trusted commanders - Defence Minister A.K.Antony, Labour Minister MalikarjunKhadge and SharadPawar. The trade union leaders joined in rejecting their empty promises which have been made to them since several years and gave a fitting reply to the Ministers with their militant leadership of the strike.
The government tried very hard to render the strike unsuccessful. It organised for heavy police forces on watch. The entire bureaucracy was engaged in security. Preventive arrests were made of workers who were going to participate in the strike. Worker leaders were arrested. The police employed its agent provocateur to provoke the workers and disrupt the strike; they tried their utmost to discredit the workers. The joint TU leadership did not allow these machinations to succeed. In Noida, the Administration used anti-social elements to create disturbances to suppress the peaceful protests of the workers. The police lathi-charged the workers’ march in several areas. Countrywide, the working class provided a wonderful demonstration over the two days that it is a disciplined and conscious force.
Workers’ organisations worked unitedly from local to central levels to make the strike such a success. Joint meetings were organised between unions and their federations from local, regional, state and central level and across various sectors of electricity, water, municipal services, state and national transport and other services. Rallies were organised in industrial estates at the duty starting and finishing hours of the day. Leaflets with appeal to workers to participate in the strike were distributed jointly and through the workers organisations and unions. Street corner meetings, demonstrations and public meetings were held.
Workers have to reject the exploitation and pauperisation of people for the sake of capitalists of our country to establish themselves in the international arena. They have to reject all anti-national and anti-people decisions to fulfil this ambition of the capitalists.
Every attempt of the government of the capitalists to create an atmosphere of terror in order to distract the attention of the working class from their bad conditions must be defeated, and these diabolic steps must be exposed among the people. We have to fight against all attempts to break the unity of the working class.
The times are calling on the working class not to limit their struggle to the fulfilment of their existing demands, which the government is indeed not fulfilling, but take steps in the direction to stake the claims of working class in the future political power.
MEL mourns the death of Narendra Singh,the Haryana State Treasurer of AITUC and a worker in Haryana Roadways Corporation on 20th February, when he was crushed between a piller and a bus while taking part in the demonstration at Ambala Bust stand. We convey our heart-felt condolence to the colleagues and family members in this moment of grief.
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar congratulates the All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre for Indian Trade Union, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, Indian National Trade Union Congress, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Kamagar Ekta Committee, Worker’s Unity Movement, All Indian Central Council of Trade Unions, Federations and Associations for making this strike a success.
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar salutes all the trade unions for remaining united and for seeking to be recognised by the working class and not by this capitalist system of exploitation and loot.