Kerala To Witness Historic Participation in Two-Day General Strike
Kanhangad Women Workers' Rally. Image Courtesy: CITU Kerala- Facebook
Thiruvananthapuram: Campaign rallies and preparations for the two-day nationwide General Strike culminate to ensure maximum participation from Kerala. The state will be at a standstill during the strike from 6 am on Monday to 6 am on Wednesday. Workers from organised and unorganised sectors took up the campaign by various means to send the strike's message across various sections of the society. The massive strike by Central Trade Unions is expected to go down in history as the largest in terms of participation. Workers and employees gave notice prior to the strike.
Twenty-two trade unions, except Bharat Mazdoor Sangh (BMS- associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is not part of the strike), have formed Trade Union Joint Councils at state, district and local levels to coordinate the two-day shutdown. With the slogan "Save the People, Save the Nation," the strike not only raises workers' demands for repeal of labour codes, for better wages, job security and other social security benefits, rather points to broader issues like privatisation of PSUs, petrol price hike, inflation, and institutionalised corruption by Modi government. Communal polarisation is being used to divert attention from all these. Therefore, this becomes a struggle for the people and the nation. The campaign for the strike has helped to create general awareness, and a sense of unity among the workers from different sectors, Trade Union Joint Council representatives said at a press conference on Friday.
Pathanamthitta District Rally
Union leaders urged the public to join the strike, avoiding travel in private vehicles. Essential services like hospitals, ambulances, pharmacies, milk and newspapers will be excluded. CITU State President Anathalavattam Anandan, INTUC State President R Chandrasekharan, AITUC State General Secretary KP Rajendran, M Rahmatulla (STU), Sonia George (SEWA) and other trade union leaders attended the press meet.
Wall writing by Women Workers
Salim, who runs an auto-rickshaw at Bakery Junction, Thiruvananthapuram, says the two-day strike is for one and all.
"Daily increasing fuel charges and rising inflation push commoners to great distress. All of us are together in this; every auto-rickshaw driver that I know agrees with the cause of the two-day strike. Even auto-drivers affiliated with Bharat Mazdoor Sangh responded positively, though they can not join the campaigns or processions owing to political reasons. None of them will be operating on these two days," says Salim, a member of Auto-rickshaw Drivers' Union(CITU).
Babu, a head-load worker and the secretary of the Vanchiyoor unit of the Head-load Workers Union(CITU), affirms that the message of the strike has reached the grassroots. The head-load workers from all major unions actively participated in the joint procession at the capital city as part of the campaign at Thiruvananthapuram. The cut down on workers' right to organise would further exploit the already impoverished sections, he says.
Headload Workers' Campaign in Kozhikode
As part of the three-month-long preparations for the strike, campaign rallies were organised at district and local levels by Trade Unions Joint Council and by various trade unions on their own. Motor Workers Unions, ASHA Workers Unions, Head-Load Workers' Unions, Transport Employees' Unions, Electricity Board Employees Unions etc., organised campaign programmes. The online mode of the campaign was also utilised to the fullest, circulating eye-catching posters and videos on Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube. TU Joint Council also organised cultural programmes through Facebook live for 21 days, where workers showcased their artistic talents as a form of resistance to propagate the message of the strike.
Farmers and agricultural workers' unions, central and state service organisations, teachers' unions, BSNL, LIC and bank employees' unions and port workers will also join the strike. Karshaka Sangham, the state unit of All India Kisan Sabha, organised marches at local centres extending solidarity to the workers' strike.
Torchlight processions and massive proclamation rallies will be held before the strike at district centres on Saturday and Sunday. At least 25 protest centres will be active during the 48 hours of the strike, where workers will gather for discussions and creative performances. Protest rallies will be held at all centres at 9 am on Monday.
Anganwadi Workers' Rally in Kozhikode
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