What happens when TSRTC is fully privatized
On Thursday hundreds of millions of workers across India took part in a one-day general strike against the investor-friendly economic reforms and the accompanying austerity measures by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
According to the organizers, 250 million people took part in the strike. This enormous mobilization is an expression of the growing anger of the masses, not only against the Modi government, but against the entire bourgeois rule in India. It shows the willingness of the workers to defend themselves against the attacks on jobs, wages, working and living conditions.
The strikers demanded a monthly payment of 7,500 rupees (about 100 US dollars) to all families who do not pay income tax due to their poverty, the repeal of laws that discriminate against farmers, the repeal of worsening labor law, general social security, a monthly , minimum wage of 21,000 rupees automatically adjusted for inflation for all employees - i.e. also for temporary workers - the compulsory registration of trade unions within 45 days of receipt of the registration, the abolition of compulsory retirement in the public service and government authorities, health insurance for everyone Giving six percent of GDP to healthcare and five percent of GDP to public education.
Ten trade union federations called for the strike, including the Center of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC). They are the trade union federations of the two largest Stalinist parties - the Communist Party of India (Marxists) or KPM and the Communist Party of India (KPI).
Other union federations involved were the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), i.e. the trade union wing of the opposition Congress Party, and the Labor Progressive Front (LPF), which is allied with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) from Tamil-Nadu. The union wing of the ruling BJP, Baharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), did not participate.
Participation fluctuated according to industry, occupation and region, but at any rate employees from the public sector, banks, oil refineries, steelworks, power plants, coal mines and armaments factories were involved. They all called for the withdrawal of Modi's privatization measures, the promotion of temporary work and the reactionary “labor market reform” that restricts the right to strike.
Millions of people went out of work in the southern Indian states of Kerala, Telangana and Puducherry, in the eastern state of Odisha and in northeastern Assam, resulting in the complete shutdown of operations and affecting many more states. Protest events took place in many of the country's major cities, including Delhi.
Kerala came to a complete standstill. The ruling coalition Left Democratic Front (LDF), which is dominated by the Stalinist KPM, supported the strike. The buses of the state-owned transport company KSRTC did not run, nor did the private buses, motor rickshaws and taxis. Authorities and large companies remained closed.
Train traffic also came to a standstill, as did car traffic in many cities in the east Indian state of West Bengal, including Jadavpur, Garia and Dakshin Barasat. The state government, led by the anti-communist party Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee, used to crack down on strikers with harsh legal bandages, police and thugs, but this time did not try to prevent the strike. The right-wing TMC faces a state election next year in which the BJP is their main opponent.
In Odisha, state workers joined the strike despite the Biju Janatha Dal (BJP) state government attempting to ban the walk through the Essential Services Act.
In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, workers from various industries stopped work, including at corporations such as Salem Steel, and other large companies such as MRF and Ashok Leyland on the outskirts of Chennai, in textile plants in Tirupur, the fireworks industry in Sivakasi and in IT companies.
The fact that the media barely reported on the strike illustrates the fear of the business elite of mass action by the working class in view of the anger of the population over the catastrophic conditions created by the corona pandemic.
The leaders of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) Provisional Committee held a protest in Gurgaon on Thursday. They explained to the WSWS, the most important unions in the huge industrial region of Gurgaon-Manesar on the outskirts of Delhi, one of the strongholds of the workers' militia, have not called their members to go on strike. MSWU was founded by workers at the Maruti Suzuki Auto Plant in Manesar after the company set up a yellow union.
From 2011 to 2012, the MSWU organized a series of militant struggles against the company's slave-like working conditions. In a joint act of revenge, the company and the state government tried 13 of these militant workers, including all 12 members of the MSWU Executive Committee, in a bogus murder trial and sentenced them to life imprisonment in 2017.
Thursday's strike transcended all language, religion and caste boundaries and thus impressively demonstrated the objective unity of the Indian working class. This was a severe blow to the Modi's government's relentless attempts to propagate Hindu chauvinism and incite against Muslims and other religious minorities, as well as the constant attempts by the ruling elite to foment divisions between ethnic groups, regions, castes and communities.
At the same time as the general strike on Thursday, farmers across the country protested for two days. In addition, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella organization of over 300 farmers' associations, called for a “Delhi Chalo” march. Their main demand was the repeal of three agricultural laws recently enacted by the Modi government. As a result of these measures, farmers are at the mercy of the giant agricultural corporations that dominate the cultivation, trade, storage and prices of agricultural products, including grain as a staple food.
The BJP-ruled states of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh used paramilitary forces and police to prevent the Delhi Chalo march and other coordinated protests.
In Haryana, police were used to block the borders with the National Capital Territory (NCT), Delhi, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Roadblocks were put in place to prevent farmers from reaching the NCT. The Haryana BJP government also ordered nightly raids that arrested hundreds of farmers. Modi's central government also deployed police and paramilitary forces on the Delhi-Haryana border.
Of the ten trade union federations and several other trade union organizations that called for the strike, the Stalinist groups CITU and AITUC played the leading role.
While workers are determined to resist the attacks by the Modi government, the Stalinist unions have only called a strike to blow off steam and meet growing resistance from urban and rural workers to the carts of opportunist alliances with the Congress Party and various regional ones to tension capitalist parties. In line with these plans, the CITU and AITUC have worked with the INTUC and LPF, the trade union federations of the Congress Party and the Tamil nationalist DMK, portraying these bourgeois parties as "friends of the workers".
The Stalinists, who have a long and bad history of working with Congress and the DMK, allied themselves with these parties in the 2019 election. At the beginning of November they ran for election in the state of Bihar together with the Congress Party and the corrupt, caste-based bourgeois regional party Rastriya Janatha Dal. Next year they want to run together with the Congress Party in the state elections in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam.
Mass opposition to Modi's BJP government had already grown in the months leading up to the ill-prepared lockdown in March.
A similar nationwide general strike with millions of participants took place on January 8, aimed at the government's economic reforms. In addition, there were demonstrations and protests by members of all ethnic groups against a reactionary reform of citizenship law, which is directed against the Muslim population group. These actions were preceded by a wave of strikes in the auto industry.
The fierce protests against the citizenship reform had forced the Modi government to withdraw temporarily. However, Modi was able to use the dangerous conditions created by the pandemic as an excuse to quell the protests.
Against the backdrop of the social and health catastrophe triggered by the government's disastrous response to the pandemic, the movement of the working class and the oppressed farm workers is now reporting back with increased strength.
The Indian working class must free itself politically and organizationally from the stranglehold of the Stalinists and their Maoist variants, all of whom defend the profit system. And it must unite the peasantry and the oppressed masses in the struggle against capitalism and for a socialist and internationalist perspective.
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