The Bharat Bandh (nationwide strike by trade unions) is likely to be held for two days starting 28 March. While the trade unions linked to the BJP and the Trinamool Congress have not called for a strike, those belonging to the INC and the left parties have called for a two-day strike 29 against the BJP-led NDA government’s economic policies.
The West Bengal government has asked all its employees to report for duty on 28 and 29 March, failing which the state authorities will issue them show-cause notices. The Trinamool Congress government has said that no casual leave will be granted to employees except in emergency situations like illness or death in the family.
The Trinamool Congress has been opposed to bandhs as its official policy for a while. Its government in West Bengal said that the absence of employees on the two days would be treated as ‘dies-non’ and no salary will be admissible unless covered by grounds of hospitalisation, bereavement in the family, severe illness, or staffers on maternity, child care, medical or earned leave before March 25.
Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court had restrained five trade unions in the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Kochi, from participating in the nationwide strike. Considering a plea filed by the BPCL challenging the trade unions in the company joining the protest, Justice Amit Rawal issued an interim order on 25 March, restraining the unions from going on strike. Thus, the unions of BPCL employees cannot join the protest now.
While the strike may still impact a large number of activities, the sectors that will be largely impacted include the banking sector. The All India Bank Employees Association has said that bank employees will be joining the protest. The employees of the insurance sector will also join the strike.
Employees of the electricity department, roadways and transport sector in Haryana and Chandigarh will join the strike in spite of the impending threat of ESMA. The workers in coal, steel, oil, telecom, postal, income tax, copper among other sectors are likely to join the strike either partly or fully.
According to the trade unions, their associations in the railways and defence sector would be mass mobilising workers in support of the strike at hundreds of places. The central trade unions which are part of the joint forum calling for the strike are INTUC, AIUTUC, TUCC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC.