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Two Million Workers Take India's Streets in National Strike

Protesters presented a list of 12 proposals targeting inflation, rising unemployment, dissipating salaries and pensions which will potentially counter India’s struggling economy. | Photo: Reuters Protesters presented a list of 12 proposals targeting inflation, rising unemployment, dissipating salaries and pensions which will potentially counter India’s struggling economy. | Photo: Reuters
Over two million Indian workers filled the streets in the first of a two-day nationwide strike for unilateral labour reforms and to protest the state’s alleged anti-worker policies.

“The strike is quite visible in Assam, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Manipur Bihar, Rajasthan, Goa, Punjab, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Haryana- particularly in the targeted industrial areas and different mines,”said Amarjeet Kaur, the general secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), PTI reports.

The spike in both the price and privatization of state assets as well as amendments to labor laws, denounced as “slavery conditions,” triggered the “historic” protest which drew at least 10 trade unions and united both the private and public sectors.

In Kerala, blockades were erected and public transportation was shut down. Private and federal agencies were forced to close as strikers swarmed the streets.

Before long, police in riot gear began making mass arrests. Some leading members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in West Bengal were also detained.

According to City general secretary Tapan Sen, the “unprecedented expanse and the active participation of the workers in the two days’ strike is a clear warning of the extent of anger and resentment of the workers against the neoliberal policies (of the government) and the attacks on their working and living conditions perpetrated by these policies.”

Protesters presented a list of 12 proposals targeting inflation, rising unemployment, dissipating salaries and pensions which will potentially counter India’s struggling economy.

Kaur told PTI, “The government has failed to create jobs and grossly ignored unions’ 12-point charter of demands. The group of ministers headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on labor issues has not called unions for any discussion since September 2, 2015 strike.”

The second and final day of protests will continue Wednesday and at least 20 more workers unions are expected to arrive.

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