Bharat Bandh Affects Services in Kerala, West Bengal
Crores of workers are supporting the nationwide strike to oppose the government’s ‘anti-labour, anti-farmer’ laws.
Crores of workers are supporting the nationwide Bharat Bandh called by ten central trade unions on Thursday, 26 November as a bid to protest against the NDA-government’s labour and farmer policies.
A number of services, including transport, banking, industries, defence, as well as work at port and dock areas are likely to be disrupted as the one-day strike includes farmers and workers from a host of sectors.
In West Bengal, daily life was partially affected with clashes being reported in parts of the state. According to NDTV, the trade union wing of the ruling Trinamool Congress is also supporting the labour-led Bharat Bandh.
The ten unions striking include: 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), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) and United Trade Union Congress (UTUC).
The demands put forward by these unions include monthly monetary support, expansion of MGNREGA, which is the rural employment guarantee scheme, the withdrawal of ‘anti-farmer’ and anti-labour codes, and a pension to all scheme.
The united front of farmer organisations, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, has also lent its support to the strike and are mobilising their members in rural areas to express solidarity with the striking workers, PTI reported.
However, the RSS-affiliated trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh has refused to partake in the strike.
RJD Joins Bharat Bandh
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) joined the one-day Bharat Bandh as party workers blocked the road in Vaishali district. They even brought their buffaloes and lit 'diyas' on the road, causing a traffic jam on the Muzaffarpur-Hajipur road, reported IANS.
The RJD workers raised slogans against the anti-workers and anti-farmer laws of the Centre. The impact of the nationwide strike was also seen in Gaya where the working of the banks was affected.
An official told PTI that strikers, mostly activists from of CPI(M)- affiliated outfits like CITU and DYFI, brought out rallies in Jadavpur, Garia, Kamalgazi, Lake Town and Dumdum areas in and around Kolkata, disrupting movement of transport and asking shopkeepers to pull down the shutters of their establishments.
They picketed outside Howrah station, urging operators to stop their services and CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty led protesters to squat on railway tracks at Jadavpur station in south Kolkata.
Train services in South Eastern Railway’s Howrah-Kharagpur section were partially disrupted as agitators blocked railway tracks at Balichak, Midnapore and a few other stations for some time, a SER spokesperson told PTI.
The Bengal government expressed that it is against bandh, leaving all its offices open and large-scale police deployment ensured vehicular movement is not disrupted further.
In Barasat, North Parganas district, protesters clashed with the police as a way to enforce the bandh. Strikers also blocked roads in Coochbehar and Jhargram districts, burning tyres and breaking the windscreen of buses, an official said.
A Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) activist in Howrah said, "People are supporting our peaceful protests as it is in their interests."
Left-ruled Kerala also saw a successful Bharat Bandh on Thursday as shops closed their shutters and state-owned buses kept away from roads, leaving them empty.
Normal life was disrupted as the one-day demonstration hit government offices, banking and insurance, among other sectors. All offices, shops and major business establishments remained closed across Kerala, PTI reported.
Many major trade unions kept away from organising mass-scaled rallies due to the coronavirus pandemic, and held protest gathering and formed human chains. The Centre of Indian Trade Union expressed their solidarity by forming a human chain in Kochi.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI and Hindustan Times)
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