With the common man robbed off transportation in most urban centres of the country, today’s Bharat Bandh may arguably be one of the biggest of its kind. In this article, we attempt to demystify what the bandh is all about. Read on.
What is this all about?
Local trade unions with affiliations with worker associations in banks, government offices, telecom, factories and other sectors have called for a country-wide strike to oppose the government’s ‘anti-labour policies’. As many as six public sector banks are expected to participate in the strike. This means that banks, sarkari offices and factories will be shut.
What do these unions want?
The government has proposed to hike minimum wage for unskilled workers by 20% to Rs. 12,000 for Tier I cities. The unions are demanding social security and a wage not less than Rs. 18000 per month. They are also asking for enhanced pension of Rs 3000 per month for all sectors, including the removal of FDI from Railways, defence and other ‘strategic sectors’.
How big is the strike?
As many as 14 crore workers are expected to go on strike with organisations like Coal India, GAIL, ONGC, NTPC, HAL and BHEL. However, Railways and other central government organisations will not participate.
How will I be affected?
If you’re from Mumbai and you take the local, you’ll be pleased to know that you will NOT be affected. Since the Mumbai Suburban Railway comes under the Railways, your commute will not be disrupted. Auto or taxi strikes have not been announced in the city either.
However, if you are from Bangalore, Hyderabad or Delhi, expect the local autorickshaw unions to participate in the strike.
Is it a holiday then?
This is a grey area. Some schools and colleges have called the day off, but some others are functioning.
What about banks?
The banks have joined the protests.
Finally, what is the Centre doing about this?
The Centre has already made an appeal to the Unions to call off the strike. Finance Minster Jaitley has vouched that the government will release state employees’ bonuses for the last two years, and increase minimum wages for unskilled labourers to persuade the Unions to cancel the strike.