The working class of India struck back hard on Friday in a nationally coordinated labor action led by the Center of Indian Trade Unions. The historic work stoppage is by far the largest strike the country—and possibly the world—has ever seen, and reflects a high degree of class-conscious militancy on the subcontinent.
The workers' demands include monetary controls to prevent inflation, universal social security coverage, a rise in the minimum wage, an end to pro-employer labor law amendments, an assured pension for the entire working population, and a ban on foreign ownership of the country's strategic sectors, such as defense, insurance and railways. India's broad and diverse communist movement took the lead in preparing the ground for the nationwide action.
The receptiveness of the people to the strike call reflects the burning rage and resentment of India's highly exploited workforce. Indian workers have faced various attacks under the right-wing neoliberal coalition government led by Narendra Modi of the sectarian Hindu-supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, including a recent overhaul that grants employers greater "flexibility" to hire and fire workers.
Organized and unorganized workers, family members, and youth from various sectors of the Indian economy—including mining, agriculture, electricity, public and private sectors, education, telecom, blue and white collar workers, among others—showed an unparalleled degree of unity across the nation from West Bengal to Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi, Mumbai, Assam, Kerala, Haryana, Punjab and beyond. Cities and public roads were completely shut down by workers who took the initiative in deploying the "bandh" tactic—calling in sick to work, picketing businesses or closing shops in solidarity with the strike, and physically blocking roads—despite the unions not calling for the bandh this year.
teleSUR takes a look at the unprecedented show of strength and unity represented by the historic all-India labor action of Sept. 2.