NEW DELHI: The all-India strike call given by 10 Central trade unions on Wednesday evoked a mixed response, both at the ground-level and from the stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the trade unions called the strike a success and the government claimed it has had ‘no effect’. The effects of the strike was felt mostly by states with tangible Left presence -- West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala -- it had less impact on the BJP-ruled states.
For the government, the last minute pull-out by the Sangh-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) from the strike call was the biggest face-saver, for the other 10 national trade unions the support it got from the transport, insurance, banking and the miner sectors across states was the biggest booster.
Quite early in the day, after the Union Cabinet meeting, Minister of Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan said, “There’s no impact to normal life.” But, by the end of the day in a joint statement, the Central unions said the success of the strike, “the largest ever”, showed the ‘disconnect’ with the government’s policies.
Pradhan, however, also said the government has arrived at a formula on hiking minimum wages and would place it before all trade unions across the country soon. It is considered as one of the reasons why the BMS decided to stay away from the strike.
But the other 10 trade unions spearheading the agitation claimed the strike was so “spontaneous and total” that now the government would have to call them to the negotiating table. Their demand is to raise the stipulated minimum wages to Rs 15,000, apart from a say, if not stay, in the Labour law reform.
The impact of the strike was felt most in West Bengal which ironically witnessed pitched battles between the Left parties and the ruling Trinamool Congress. Nearly 200 persons were arrested from different parts of the state.
The effects of the strike was also felt in Kerala, Tripura, Karnataka, Odisha and some impact was seen in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Bihar, Himachal, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand.
More than 1,500 trade unionists peacefully demonstrated against the Centre’s proposed labour reforms at Noida Sector 1 as the trade union strike passed without incident on Wednesday.