THE working class in India has shown its militant strength on 2nd September, paralyzing the industrial and service sectors and making the all-India hartal a historic success. The impact of the campaign organized by the trade union centres united in the sponsoring committee as well as all other trade union centres and independent unions was so powerful that even though the BMS withdrew from the strike at the last moment, in a number of states the state level or local level BMS units also joined the hartal. While tens of millions of workers both in the organized and unorganized sectors made the general strike a great success, trade union activists and activists of different political parties and other class/mass organizations rallied in thousands in support of the general strike.
About 15 crore workers all over the country participated in the strike. Normal life in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Karnataka and West Bengal came to a halt. Greater Noida industrial area was shut down. The banking sector collapsed throughout the country. Near total participation of coal workers in the strike has been reported. Huge participation of transport workers, especially taxi and auto drivers, was noted. Particularly remarkable was the participation of the workers from the service sector industries like IT. This feature must indeed have sounded the alarm bells for the government. There was significant participation of shopping mall workers too.
The 12-point charter of demands around which the strike was centred, undoubtedly touched several key issues of the working people. The questions of minimum wages, inflation, FDI, etc., are extremely relevant. However, the central issue was the proposed changes in the existing labour laws. Although the existing labour laws are far from being comprehensive and of much real benefit to workers, the strike made it evident that the working class is not prepared to cede a further inch.
CPI(ML) Red Star congratulates the working class for the great success of the general strike and appeals to them to keep up this militant unity for advancing the struggle in the coming days to beat back the neo-liberal attacks on their basic democratic, trade union and labour rights. At the same time, the limits of these one day general strikes, repeated yearly or bi-yearly, which are reduced to tokenism should be properly evaluated. The central trade union centers in the sponsoring committee, especially the BMS, INTUC, CITU, AITUC and HMS have proved at central, state and local level that they are not ready to take these token strikes to long term struggles to challenge the neo-liberal regime and corporate raj. Besides, the leadership of these TU centers and others has degenerated to a great extent to reformism, labor aristocracy, economism and legalism. It is futile to expect them to overcome these serious shortcomings and to transform themselves to politicized militant leaderships capable of leading the working class to challenge the rule of capital.
The ruling system and corporate media tried to ignore this massive strike from the beginning. When the strike succeeded in paralyzing many states fully and creating an impact at the all-India level, the media in general wept oceans of tears for the Rs 25,000 crore loss suffered as a result of the strike, omitting to point out that this 25,000 crore would have filled the coffers of the corporate while aggravating the misery of the toiling people. Most ruling class parties also took an antagonistic approach to this working class struggle. Thus apart from the emerging expression of working class unity the general strike revealed how the corporate raj imposed by the central and state governments is intensifying its attack on the working class and their struggles. In spite of these ruling class attacks, the significance of the 2nd September general strike is that unlike the defensive stand taken in previous struggles, this time the working class strike took an offensive stand with militant campaigns preceding and on the day of the strike. This positive turn in the general strike should be correctly evaluated and the left and democratic forces should intensify their efforts to strengthen the militant unity and struggles of the hundreds of millions of the working class in coming days
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