Nationwide general strike in India Wed January 8th ‘DOWN WITH MODI!’

Port workers demonstrate against the government

A GENERAL strike is set to take place in India on January 8 against the ‘anti-worker, anti-people, anti-national policies’ of the country’s Narendra Modi government.

Key figures reportedly leading the workers are CITU All India general secretary, Tapan Sen and INTUC President, G Sanjeeva Reddy. At the same time, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar has invited union leaders for a discussion.
Claiming that the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) have brought a ‘special tempo’ to the preparations for the January 8 strike – called by a total of 10 trade unions belonging to the Opposition camp – the joint platform is expecting participation of at least 30 leading spokespeople from various sectors.
Leaders of various unions have told BusinessLine that they also secured the support of Opposition political parties for the strike at least one week before it was due to take place.
Meanwhile, according to trade union sources, the Union Labour Minister, Santosh Gangwar, has invited the union leaders who declared the strike for a discussion on Thursday.
CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen said even the foreign media had reported that the January strike had the support of at least 20 workers’ organisations. ‘This is going to be a very big strike, much bigger than last year’s strike in terms of participation,’ he insisted.
‘Thanks to the Centre’s anti-people measures such as the CAA, the people’s protests have brought a special tempo to our preparations. Apart from industrial workers, workers from unorganised sectors, agriculture, and farmers and youth have pledged support for the strike,’ Sen continued.
He added that trade unions had served strike notices at thousands of factories and workplaces prior to December 23.
A National Open Mass Convention of workers organised by the ten Central Trade Unions – INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC – independent federations, unions and associations of various sectors have now called for a nationwide general strike on January 8 against the ‘anti-worker, anti-people, anti-national policies’ of the Narendra Modi government.
The Trade Unions have been demanding a national minimum wage of 21,000 per month, a pension for all, scrapping of the national pension scheme (NPS) and restoration of the old pension scheme, control on price rise of essential commodities, universal public distribution system, generation of new jobs, filling up of sanctioned posts, regularisation of scheme and contract workers, equal pay for equal work, strengthening of welfare boards for unorganised sector workers, increased budgetary provision for MNREGA and agriculture, scrapping of codification of labour laws, stopping fixed term employment and privatisation of PSUs, allowing 100 per cent FDI in Railways, defence, coal and other sectors and bank mergers.
Opponents have been warning that such measures will lead to massive redundancies and extreme exploitation of workers.
‘What we have been saying came true in 2019. More than one-crore (ten million) people have lost jobs in 2019 alone due to the policies of the Modi government and the ongoing slowdown in economy,’ said INTUC president G Sanjeeva Reddy.
Reddy added that the strike is not political but purely on economic issues and for workers’ welfare. ‘All political parties will have to support our cause. This government’s policies have remained anti-worker since the beginning.
‘They are not interested in public sector and they are all for private establishments,’ he added.
The Trade Unions had recently urged the Centre to repeal CAA. ‘The central Trade Unions anxiously observe that the BJP Government is creating discrimination which may divide the country and may cause widespread discontent among people irrespective of religion, caste and creed.
‘This is also being used to deviate attention away from the present crisis and to create a divide among the unified protest of the working people against the anti-people policies of the BJP government.
‘The Central Trade Unions demand of the Government to repeal the CAA, not to proceed with NRC and stop police atrocity on the protesters,’ the statement said.

  • Meanwhile, the Karnataka Government has issued a Notification Regarding Employment Of Women Workers In Factories Under The Factories Act, 1948.

It circulated the notification, dated November 20 2019, outlining conditions for the employment of women in factories registered under the Factories Act, 1948, who are employed in night shifts (i.e. between 7pm to 6am).
The said notification has been published in light of the judgment of the Madras High Court, wherein it was declared that Section 66(1)(b) of the Factories Act, 1948, which permitted women factory workers to only work in the factory between 6am to 7pm, was unconstitutional and in violation of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution.
Additionally, the Madras High Court laid down certain conditions for ensuring the safety and interests of women working during the night shift. In light of the above decision by the Madras High Court, the Government of Karnataka has allowed the employment of women workers during the night shift, in factories registered under the Factories Act, 1948, subject to the following conditions to be met by the employer, or persons in charge of the factory, namely:

  • To expressly prohibit any acts of sexual harassment in any form, and to lay down the mechanisms for solving such disputes in the form of rules and regulations framed prohibiting such acts, and provide appropriate procedures for the resolution, statement or prosecutions of acts of sexual harassment and prescribe penalties for the same, as well as introducing necessary amendments in the standing orders to reflect the same and providing a safe working environment for women employed in factories.
  • To frame rules and regulations by the factory management relating to conduct and prohibition of sexual harassment and providing for appropriate penalties in such rules against the offenders. Female employees should be made aware of their rights, by prominently displaying and notifying the guidelines on the subject.
  • To provide appropriate working conditions with respect to works, leisure, health and hygiene to further ensure that there is no hostile environment for women at the workplace and so that no woman feels disadvantaged in connection to her employment.
  • In case of any criminal case, the employer shall initiate appropriate actions in accordance with applicable law and also ensure that the victims or witnesses are not victimised or discriminated against while dealing with the complaints of sexual harassment and wherever necessary, at the request of the affected workers, shift or transfer the perpetrator, if the circumstances so warrant.

The employer shall also take appropriate disciplinary action if such conduct amounts to misconduct in employment.

  • To maintain a complaint redressal mechanism to ensure time-limited treatment of complaints in the factory itself.

This complaint redressal mechanism shall provide, wherever necessary, a complaint committee, a special counsellor or other support services. The complaint committee shall preferably be headed by a woman and not less than half of its members should be women, besides a non-government organisation’s representative who is familiar with the issues of sexual harassment.
• To allow female workers to raise issues of sexual harassment in workers’ meetings and other appropriate forums.