A federation of central trade unions has announced a two-day nationwide strike beginning from March 28- 29 to protest government policies. The All India Unorganized Workers and Employees Congress has backed the nationwide strike.
During a two-day nationwide strike called by a joint forum of central trade unions that begins Monday, some essential services related to banking, transportation, railways, and electricity are likely to be impacted.
All Indian Trade Union Congress General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur said, “We are expecting participation of over 20 crore formal and informal workers with mass mobilisation of workers across the country during the strike on March 28 and 29 to protest against government policies.”
She added that the strike is expected to spread to rural areas, where informal farm workers and other workers will join the protest.
Workers’ unions from a variety of industries, including coal, steel, oil, telecom, postal, income tax, copper, banks, and insurance, issued strike notices.
The joint forum said that unions in the railways and defence sectors will mobilise in support of the nationwide strike in a number of places.
The proposed changes to labour laws, as well as any form of privatisation and the national monetisation pipeline, are among the demands of the unions. Their demands include increased wage allocation under the MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and the regularisation of contract workers.
Workers from the highways, transportation, and electricity departments have also decided to join the strike, despite the threat of ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act) being imposed in Haryana and Chandigarh, according to the joint forum.
The joint forum includes trade unions such as INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, and UTUC.
Meanwhile, the power ministry issued a warning on Sunday to all state-owned utilities and other agencies to be on high alert in order to ensure continuous electricity supply and grid stability.
The power ministry issued an advisory saying, “The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has called for a nationwide strike with effect from 06:00 hrs of March 28 to 06:00 hrs of March 30, 2022.”
The advisory has been issued to all states, central public sector undertakings, central electricity authority, national load dispatch centre and regional load dispatch centres.
All power utilities should take necessary measures to ensure round-the-clock operation of the electricity grid and availability of all plants, transmission lines, and substations in the interest of electricity consumers, the ministry said, adding that all regional/state control room executives should be vigilant and on high alert.
Shutdown activities scheduled for March 28-29 may be rescheduled to a more convenient date in the future, it said, and it urged all concerned officials to keep a close eye on their regional network/control area.
It also suggested that power be provided to those involved in essential services such as hospitals, defence, and railways, as well as the establishment of a 24-hour control room for information dissemination and contingency management.
Bank employees’ unions to support the nationwide strike
C H Venkatachalam, General Secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), said the union wants the government to stop privatising public sector banks and instead strengthen them.
Bank employees also demand that bad loans be repaid quickly, that banks offer higher deposit rates, that customers pay lower service fees, and that the old pension scheme for employees is reinstated.
Several public sector banks, including the country’s largest lender SBI, have stated that the nationwide strike may have a limited impact on their services.
During the strike, SBI said it has made the necessary arrangements to ensure normal operations in its branches and offices.
AIBEA, Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), and All India Bank Officers’ Association (AIBOA) will serve notices to striking on March 28-29, according to the New Delhi-based Punjab National Bank (PNB).
Bengaluru-based Canara Bank said it is taking all necessary steps to ensure that its branches and offices run smoothly. However, the bank’s operations may be harmed, according to Canara Bank.
RBL Bank, a private lender, said its bank unions are affiliated with AIBOA and AIBEA, and employees affiliated with these unions could join the strike.