The day-long All India General Strike on Thursday, called by ten central trade unions and supported by Congress and the Left parties, has been successful, claimed CPIM in Kolkata.
Addressing the press after a march in support of the strike, CPIM state secretary in West Bengal, Suryakanta Mishra, has said that the impact of their protest crossed many records of the past.
“Lot of our comrades have been arrested in the districts but the call to observe the strike was well received by general people across villages and cities. The impact of the strike has been felt in factories, mills and everywhere. It has broken many records of the past,” Mishra said.
— CPI(M) WEST BENGAL (@CPIM_WESTBENGAL) November 26, 2020
Left Front chairman in West Bengal, Biman Bose, has also claimed that the nationwide strike has been highly successful.
The strike was jointly called by 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) and All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) and United Trade Union Congress (UTUC).
The unions are protesting against the three new Labour Codes – the Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2020; the Code on Social Security Bill, 2020; and the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill, 2020 – that were passed by both houses of the Parliament earlier this year.
Several farmers’ organisations, including the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), have extended their support. They have mobilised their members in rural India to stand in solidarity with the striking workers.
Scores of farmers, who have been protesting in the North Indian states of Punjab and Haryana against the new Farm Acts – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 – decided to march to Delhi to express their disenchantment with the new government politics. Farmers from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have also joined the rally.
Major sections of MGNREGA workers, beedi workers, scheme workers, hawkers, vendors, agricultural labours and several others have participated in the nationwide “chakka jam”.
Apart from immediate withdrawal of the “anti-labour and anti-farm bills”, the protestors demand cash transfer of ₹7,500 each month to all non-income tax paying families and 10 kgs of free ration to every needy individuals per month.
They have also demanded increase inthe spans of MGNREGA work to 200 days and it’s expansion to urban areas.
“We have always said this about Modi government that this government (is the first) after independence to launch a collective attacks against the farmers, workers, unemployed, youths, all the working class people, Adivasis, Tapasili jati, minorities, victims of social discrimination,” Mishra said.
“We have to resist this attack with all our might. We have to create a greater unity among the masses through massive revolution,” the former Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly added.
Meanwhile, Congress has also claimed that the All India General Strike was a massive success and called it “historic”.
A rally was organised today by the Central Kolkata District Congress led by Suman Paul,Dist President in support of the nationwide strike . pic.twitter.com/GAEqq0Nh4m
— West Bengal Congress (@INCWestBengal) November 26, 2020
“They have destroyed the labour laws and brought new Labour Code, we are against that. They have harrassed the migrant workers who are now dying due to hunger. We are also against privatization of government sectors. We are also against the anti-peopoe policies such as the Commodities Act,” a Congress leader was seen saying in a video published on the official Facebook page of the party.
“Our strike against the skyrocketing prices of the necessary items has been hundred per cent successful. This is a historic strike,” the leader added.
The Left and Congress-backed protests saw sporadic violence across the state of West Bengal. However, no report of large scale violence has appeared.
The protestors have clashed with the police in several places, while resorting to burning tyres and forcing shops to close to stage their demonstration.
In Coochbehar, the protestors have been accused of ransacking a government bus. The vehicle did not have any passenger and as a result, no injury was reported.
Reportedly, the supporters of the strike tried to enter Dum Dum, Chandni Chowk and Central metro stations in Kolkata to block the train service. But they were stopped at the gates where enough police had already been deployed. Metro services, as such, did not face any hindrance.
In Barrackpore and Barasat regions of North 24 Parganas district, the Left workers’ call to block the roads did not go down well and instigated tension. Images of burning tyres have emerged from there. But, the police has been so far able to maintain law and order.
At Shyamnagar in Sealdah-Ranaghat main line, the protestors blocked the railway tracks to disrupt the local train service. Train services in Howrah division have been affected as well, with the demonstrators blocking Rishra, Baidyabati, Chandannagar and Mogra stations among others.
In Birbhum, the Left and Congress workers – who were trying to enforce the strike – in Suri, Bolpur and in other important places of the district, were removed by police after a little scuffle. In Bankura more than 100 cadres of Congress and Left parties have been detained.
Murshidabad’s Kandi also witnessed some minor clashes between the protestors and the police. In West Burdwan, the police forcefully removed the protestors who had blocked the streets to disrupt transportation.
The strike has been majorly successful at the jute mills in Hooghly and North 24 Parganas districts. The mills at both sides of river Hooghly saw their workers accepting the call of the trade unions. Factories in other regions have reported much lower employees turnout than normal.