Workers across India strike in solidarity with farmers, against labor reforms

The left-wing trade union confederation, CITU, organized a strike in over 100,000 workplaces across India in support of the farmers’ agitation and also called for repeal of labor reform laws, among other demands

December 31, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch

At the call of a left-wing trade union confederation, workers across India held a day-long strike in support of the ongoing farmers’ agitation at the national capital Delhi and against recent labor law reforms. The strike was organized by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), associated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)), on Wednesday, December 30. The strike action was held in over 100,000 workplaces in the country by CITU members.

The strike comes at a time when the farmers’ agitation on the borders of Delhi has been ongoing for over a month, with thousands morejoining from far away states recently. The government has so far refused to accept the key farmers’ demands of repealing the three contentious farm laws that were recently passed. The farmers fear these laws will drive down the prices they get for their produce and increase the role of corporates in agriculture.

The CITU strike, while reiterating farmers’ demands, also called for the repeal of other contentious legislation, including the three labour codes, the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020, stop government’s privatization drive, and extensive pandemic relief for unorganized and agricultural workers.

“CITU assures the working class will stand by its peasant brothers and sisters in their struggle against the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government’s anti-farmer, anti-worker and anti-national policies, meant to benefit its big corporate cronies like Ambani and Adani and others,” read the statement released by the national leadership of the trade union confederation.

The strike also comes around the time when leaders of 10 opposition-aligned and independent Central Trade Union Organisations (CTUOs), which includes CITU, have been in talks to organize a prolonged national strike of workers to pressure the Modi government. In the meanwhile the All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) have called for a pan-India strike of farm workers at the grassroots level on January 7 and 8. This coincides with the CITU’s plan to court mass arrest in pursuit of the demands they have put up today.

“The working organizations have always remained in solidarity with the protesting farmers’ groups,” said CITU general secretary, Tapan Sen. “But this solidarity needs to be taken up to a next level,” he added, to “raise the temperature against the Modi government.”

With inputs from NewsClick