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Bihar: Workers, Farmers and Contract Employees Geared up for November 26 General Strike

Left parties and the RJD have so far come out in support of the strike in Bihar, which will be followed by a farmers’ protest.
General Strike Nov 26 2020

File Photo.

Patna: Preparations for the nationwide general strike on November 26 are progressing in full swing in Bihar with different workers unions and farmers bodies mobilising support against the “anti-people, anti-worker and anti-farmer” policies of the central government.

Two days ahead of the strike, locally termed as ‘hartal’, to protest against government policies that have directly impacted the people, mainly workers, farmers and officials working in different public and private sectors, the campaign for mobilisation has entered its last phase. Trade unions, farmer bodies, different federations and associations have been conducting the last leg of the campaign and reviewing their preparations to enforce the call for the strike.

Left parties including the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) have so far come out in support of the strike. The strike will be followed by a farmers' protest on November 27 in Bihar. Upbeat over the good performance in the recently concluded Bihar assembly elections, where the CPI (ML) won 12 seats and the CPI (M) and CPI won two seats each, the Left parties’ leaders and workers are actively working on the ground to make the strike a success. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has also extended its support to the strike.

According to Ganesh Shankar Singh, leader of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the workers, farm labourers, non-gazetted officials, electricity employees, healthcare workers, and bank officials, among others are fully geared up to make the strike a success in Bihar. The strike has been called by 10 central trade unions. In the last two days, trade unions in the state conducted last-round street meetings (nukkad sabhas) and door-to-door campaign to reach out to as many people as possible to mobilise them for the strike in urban as well as in rural areas.

“We are fully ready for the general workers strike. It will be a protest against the Narendra Modi government’s anti-worker policies, increasing joblessness, growing inflation and privatisation of public sector undertakings (PSUs),” Singh said.

CPI(M)’s Bihar state secretary, Awadhesh Kumar said, “People in large numbers are set to join us as they have extended support to the workers’ strike. Bihar will witness a complete workers’ strike this time against the Narendra Modi government’s policies.”

Besides, the CPI (ML) has held a series of meetings at the district and block-level to mobilise support for the strike, the party’s state secretary Kunal said. “Our leaders and workers have been actively seeking people’s support for the strike,” he added.

CPI state secretary Ramnaresh Pandey said the party has been working to make the strike a success. “After Bihar polls ended, party leaders and workers became busy in preparation for the strike and urged its workers to join the protest on the streets to ensure its success.”

Thousands of workers, farm labourers, construction labourers, MGNREGA workers, contractual workers, including ASHA (Accredited Social Health Workers), Anganwadi, Mid-Day Meal cooks, led by different trade unions and along with students and youths will participate in protest marches across the state during the strike.

Unlike in other, Bihar, which is devoid of big industries and manufacturing units, the focus of the trade unions is on mobilising workers and labourers, mainly from the unorganised sector  such as construction, agriculture and small manufacturing units, as well as thousands of contractual workers engaged by the state government in the health, education and services sectors.

Trade unions in the state, including CITU, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), etc., as well as different federations and associations of workers are participating in the second general strike of 2020.

All India Bank Officers Association leader, Kumar Arvind Tiwary said all banks except for the State Bank of India would observe the strike in Bihar. “Work in the banks would come to standstill as a result of the strike. All India Bank Employees Association is also joining the strike.”

Similarly, Rajkumar Jha, general secretary of All India Road Transport Workers, said that all vehicles would be off the roads in support of the strike. “All workers of road transport in Bihar will join the strike to protest against the new transport act, privatisation of railway and government’s failure to provide ration card to transport workers hit hard by the lockdown.”

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