(The following is the report published by the CITU(Centre Of Indian Trade Unions) on the grand success of the historic general strike in India on 28th February 2012 against the anti worker, anti people liberalisation-privatisation-globalisation policies)
The countrywide General Strike on 28th February 2012 will be recorded as a milestone in the history of the trade union movement in the country. The working class of the country responded magnificently to the call for the General Strike given by all the eleven central trade unions and all India industrial federations in almost all the sectors of the economy. For the first time in the history of our trade union movement, INTUC and BMS both joined the other central trade unions and industrial federations to give the call for an all India General Strike. This unprecedented unity evoked massive response from the workers. As per initial estimates, more than ten crore workers all over the country - from Jammu & Kashmir in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south, from Assam in the east to Gujarat in the west participated in the strike opposing the anti worker and anti people policies of the government.
This General Strike, the fourteenth after the advent of the neoliberal economic policies in our country is significant because of the unprecedented unity of all the central trade unions and the demands raised by them that reflected the concerns not only of the workers but also of all sections of the toiling people. Besides, joint campaigns at the state and lower levels were also conducted this time on a wider scale. The joint campaign undertaken by the central leadership of the trade unions inspired many independent and state level trade unions to join the strike. Thus the 28th February strike will be etched in the annals of our trade union movement as the biggest ever strike action by the working class till date.
The major demands included concrete measures to curb price rise and provide some relief to the people, effective implementation of all labour laws and stringent punishment to those who flout them, universal social security for all unorganised workers by creating a National Social Security Fund with adequate financial allocations, stopping contractual labour in permanent jobs and equal wages and benefits to the contract workers as the permanent workers of the establishment, universal coverage by minimum wages Act and statutory minimum wage of not less than Rs 10000, pension for all, removal of all ceiling on eligibility for bonus, provident fund etc, and compulsory registration of the trade unions within a time frame of 45 days.
The expectations of the ruling classes that the defeat of the Left Front in West Bengal and the threats of the present chief minister to instil terror among the workers in the state would dampen the strike were totally belied by the workers of West Bengal who participated in the strike in a big way, facing brutal repression and ignoring all threats and intimidation. The impact of the strike was such that the corporate media, which usually chooses to ignore such actions by the working class, was forced to report about it and highlight the fact that West Bengal along with Kerala was the worst hit by the strike.
However, not only in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura but in several other states like Assam, Manipur, most parts of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh etc a bandh like situation prevailed with public transport coming to a grinding halt and shops and markets being completely closed. In many places in West Bengal, police resorted to brutal lathi charge and arrests. Workers peacefully demonstrating in Srinagar in J&K, Bhiwani in Haryana and Guwahati and Numaligarh in Assam were beaten up and arrested by the police. In addition, the striking workers in West Bengal were physically assaulted and injured by the hoodlums let loose by the ruling party to break the strike. Normal activities in many of the industrial areas in the national capital Delhi and the National Capital Region of Faridabad and Gurgaon were hit due to the massive strike action by the workers.
The CITU congratulated the working class of the country for the massive response to the strike all over the country and across the sectors. CITU saluted the heroic resistance by the striking workers to threats and intimidating tactics of the state government and the hoodlums of the ruling party to break the strike in West Bengal and extended all solidarity to them.
The strike encompassed workers and employees from almost all the sectors including the strategic sectors as well as the unorganised sector, as the following reports indicate.
* Strike was almost total in the entire financial sector in the country including banks and insurance involving around 20 lakh workers and employees.
* All the central public sector units and major industrial units in the private sector in Bangalore and Mysore were completely paralysed
* Strike was total in all the ports in the country; even in Haldia port, in West Bengal which witnessed the terror unleashed by the ruling party in the state, the strike had visible impact
* Around 6 million state government employees, teachers, employees of state public sector units, boards and corporations covering almost all the states except a few, participated in the strike; even in West Bengal where the government issued threats of break in service and other measures of victimisation for participating in strike, the state government employees responded in a magnificent way.
* More than 2000 workers including CITU leaders Manik Sanyal and Zia ul Alam were arrested.
* Central government employees all over the country participated in the strike in a big way; in the defence production sector, participation in the strike was around 80%
* In the Major Defence PSUs viz., BEL and HAL, strike was almost total in all the units throughout the country. Workers in four plants of BHEL in Trichy, Ranipet and Bangalore were on total strike.
* Majority of the 6 lakhs coal mine workers in nine companies – ECL, BCCL, CCL, SECL, NCL, CMPDIL etc joined the strike; strike was partial in Singareni Collieries; strike was near total in the non coal mining belt spread over Jharkhand, Odisha, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh
* More than 70% of the telecom workers and employees in BSNL participated in the strike
* The strike in the petroleum sector- in the upstream, refineries and marketing, was total in the eastern, north eastern and southern parts of the country while more than 70% workers in this sector in the western and northern India participated in the strike
* In the steel industry, contract workers in eight steel plants participated in the strike en masse; 90% of regular workers in Vizag steel plant, 85% of them in Salem steel plant, and 70% of Alloy steel plant workers in Durgapur participated in the strike. In Durgapur steel plant and IISCO strike was 50% and in Rourkela steel plant it was 40%; strike among regular workers in Bokaro and Bhilai steel plants was however partial.
* The participation of transport workers, particularly of the state road transport corporations in the strike was massive in many states, like Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chandigarh, etc completely paralysing the public transport; in several states private transport workers too responded to the strike magnificently
* Electricity workers including the contract workers and daily wage workers participated in the strike in large numbers in many states
* Plantation workers in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala participated in the strike en masse; in Tamil Nadu, Assam and Karnataka too strike was massive among the plantation workers
* In all the states the unorganised sector workers in brick kiln, construction, head load workers, loading and unloading workers, beedi workers, mandi workers, auto rickshaw drivers, etc participated in the strike in a massive way and also in the rallies, demonstrations, rail and rasta rokos in huge numbers.
* Strike was total among the construction workers in the organised sector including in all the Hydel projects in Himachal Pradesh
* Around 15 lakhs anganwadi employees and lakhs of ASHAs and mid day meal workers participated in the strike; in several states they held demonstrations and burnt the effigies of the government
* Overwhelming majority of the 1.5 lakhs medical and sales representatives all over the country joined the strike
* Lakhs of fishers and fisheries workers all over the country joined the strike
The massive participation of workers of all affiliations and irrespective of any affiliations in the strike indicates their anger and resentment at the attacks on their working and living conditions and the determination to resist them. This was also reflected in the wide support the strike received from the common people. While the Left parties firmly supported the strike, in some states some local political parties also extended their support. The reports received from different states illustrate the area and the spread of the strike.
Some state wise details of the strike, in addition to the impact on the banking and insurance sectors, and state and central government offices, which were severely affected all over the country, are given below:
A highly successful strike was observed all over the state, its impact visible even at the mandal level. Workers in 1072 mandals and 138 municipal towns in all the 23 districts in the state participated in the strike. The strike in most of the public sector units in Vizag and Hyderabad was total. It was total in Vizag Steel, Shipyard, BSNL, ECIL, BEL, HCL, and BHEL (R&D). In Singareni Collieries 80% contract workers and 20% permanent workers went on strike. It was significant that the strike was total in the SEZs in Visakhapatnam and in the Apachi SEZ in Kadapa where thousands of workers in Brandix and other units participated. 240 workers were arrested and non bailable cases were foisted on them in Kadapa. While all the contract workers in HPCL and Defence participated in the strike, participation of permanent workers was 50% in HPCL and 75% in Defence. In BHPV 75% of employees went on strike. In Hyderabad 1800 units in private sector with more than 2 lakhs workers were closed; in Srikakulam strike was 100% in Aurobindo Pharma and workers in 16 private industrial units went on strike. Auto rickshaw drivers in 120 stands in Hyderabad were off the roads. Private transport in several major cities like Visakhapatnam, Adilabad etc went off the road. Hundreds of railway workers demonstrated in support of the strike in Visakhapatnam and some other cities. Strike was also massive in the industrial areas in Medak and Ranga Reddy districts. 11 workers were arrested in Medak. Strike was 100% among the anganwadi employees, mid day meal workers, ASHAs, etc; lakhs of beedi workers, construction workers, loading and unloading workers, shop employees, small vendors etc participated in the strike and in the demonstrations that were held at the mandal level. As per initial reports around 414709 workers participated in the demonstrations.
The strike resulted in a virtual ‘bandh’ like situation in the state. Road transport, both private and public, was totally off the road. In Oil India, Numaligarh refineries, Coal India, Powergrid Corporation, the strike was almost total; it was partial among the regular workers in BRPL and Digboi while all the contract workers were on strike. It was highly successful in the paper mills. The tea plantations, the major industry of the state, witnessed unprecedented massive strike due to the joint initiative of CITU and INTUC. The strike was also massive in BSNL, postal, defence and other central government establishments. However, it was partial among the state government employees.
More than 2000 workers were arrested throughout the state including Asit Dutta and Tapan Sharma president and secretary of Assam state committee of CITU and Ananta Deka, MLA.
Most of the industrial units in Hazipur, Patna, Begusarai remained closed due to the strike. Auto rickshaws remained off the road in Patna, Bhagalpur and Muzaffarpur. Beedi workers in Jamui participated in the strike; Jute mills in Samastipur were paralysed. Unorganised workers joined the strike in all the districts and participated in massive rallies
Strike was successful in the coal mines and other industries in the states. In Rajhara and Nandini Iron ore mines, strike was 100%. State Govt Power Plant at Korba and also the Power Plants of LANKO and BCCP in the adjoining area were closed due to strike. A most successful strike was witnessed in BALCO. In the 2nd shift, the striking workers were attacked by the security guards and local goons injuring many workers; three workers including President of CITU union in BALCO were severely injured and hospitalised. 15 workers including Lalji Kurre, the president of the BALCO workers’ union were injured. Strike among Beedi workers, Anganwadi workers, head-load workers in mandis and construction workers throughout the state was almost total.
Workers in most of the industrial areas in the capital struck work and took out massive joint processions and demonstrations voicing the demands. Rasta roko was held in several places. In some industrial areas, the employers themselves closed the units for the day in view of the strike. Wazirpur industrial area in North Delhi was totally shut down, while most of the factories in Jahangirpuri, GT Karnal Road and Bhorgarh in the same area were closed with thousands of workers joining the processions. Half of all the factories in Okhla Phase I industrial area in South Delhi were closed due to the strike; around 10000 workers marched on the streets; the street vendors also participated in the strike. Around 200 factories in Mayapuri industrial area in South West Delhi were closed; workers conducted rasta roko blocking traffic for around one hour and burnt the effigy of the government. In the Mongolpuri Phase I and Phase II industrial areas in North West Delhi, workers went on strike and around 7000 participated in the procession. Udyog nagar was closed. 4000 workers joined the demonstrations in Kirti nagar industrial area. The loading and unloading workers in several markets joined the strike. Strike was total in Jal Board. Medial and sales representatives were on strike. The airport cargo workers went on strike for 2 hours. Anganwadi employees also participated in the strike and demonstrations.
In Gujarat, for the first time, more than 5 lakhs workers participated in the strike. Big processions and demonstrations were held in many cities and district headquarters. The strike was total in Kandla and Bhavnagar ports; it was 60% in the Naulaki port; around 20000 loading and unloading workers participated in the strike. Medical representatives, beedi workers, hawkers, auto rickshaw drivers, in their thousands joined the strike. Strike was total among the 92000 anganwadi employees in the state; they participated in large numbers in the joint trade union demonstrations, in 4-5 districts outnumbering the other sections of workers. Around 15000 ASHAs too joined the strike. 70% of workers of Ahmedabad bus service participated in the strike while the state road transport workers and postal employees withdrew the strike. Strike was total in Baroda engineering, chemical, Makerpura GIDC and Nandesari GIDC; industrial workers, mostly in the engineering, foundries, ceramics, plastics etc in Junagarh, Rajkot, Bharuch, Surendranagar, Ahmedabad, Vallabh Vidya nagar joined the strike, as also the municipal corporation workers in Bhavnagar. The power loom workers and a section of diamond workers and the chemical workers in Surat also participated in the strike. Around 50000 workers participated in the demonstrations held in different places in the state.
The strike was total in Haryana Roadways, tourism, non teaching staff of universities, educational board and municipal corporations all over the state; effective strike was observed in the health, PWD and power sectors; workers affiliated to CITU, HMS, BMS and other unions in the industrial area of Faridabad went on strike; many workers not affiliated to any union also joined the strike. The national highway was blocked for one hour. Demonstrations were held by CITU in all the district headquarters and at the division level also; in Panipat, around 2000 participated in rasta roko for 1 hour and rail roko for 30 minutes; in Jind and Narwana around 1100 and 1400 workers conducted rasta roko; in Bhiwani around 160 workers were arrested; police also resorted to lathi charge;
Around 30000 workers in dozens of units in Gurgaon went on strike; RDC, Xerox India, Hema engineering, Suzuki motorcycles, IMT Manesar, Munjal Soha, Satyam Auto, Hylex, Lumex, MESL, IFB, GKN, Rico Auto and several other units participated in the strike; anganwadi employees, ASHAs, mid day meal workers, village chowkidars, sweepers, forest workers, construction workers etc in the unorganised sector also participated in the strike in large numbers. Himachal Pradesh
Strike was total in all the Hydel power plants in the state. It was also observed all over the state by the anganwadi employees and mid day meal workers; hotel workers and construction workers also joined the strike. In the industrial areas in Solan, Parawanoo and Una districts industrial workers joined the strike action in a big way.
Jammu and Kashmir
There was a complete strike in the central PSUs like NHPC, Power Grid, etc and in state PSUs like SRTC, JK Minerals, Kalakot Mines and Baglihar Hydle Project. Besides, construction workers, Four Lane Road and Tunnel Workers, Sangaldan Railway Project workers, ASHAs, anganwadi employees, railway loading and unloading workers, medical sales and representatives, daily wagers of PDD were on strike in Jammu Region.
For the first time a joint demonstration of workers led by CITU, AITUC, BMS and INTUC was held in Jammu in which around 3000 – 4000 workers participated. In the Kashmir valley too there was complete strike in the central and state public sector undertakings including NHPC. ASHAs and anganwadi employees also participated in the strike. A rally was organised by CITU in Sher e Kashmir Park in Srinagar in which around 2000 workers from different unions participated. Police resorted to brutal lathi charge and used tear gas shells on the workers when they tried to march towards the Divisional Commissioner’s office after the public meeting. The workers including anganwadi employees and ASHAs put up stiff resistance against the highhandedness of the police force. Dozens of workers including Abdul Rashid Najar, secretary of J&K state committee of CITU were injured; 2 workers became unconscious; more than 20 were arrested
The strike was successful in the state; 80% of coal workers including the contract workers in all the coal companies in the state - CCL, BCCL, ECL, CMPDI and IICM participated in the strike; around 1.5 lakh coal workers in the coal fields in Dhanbad, Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Latehar, Bokaro, Godda and Deogarh districts participated in the strike; strike was total among state government, postal, BSNL, telecom, central water board, GSI, Income Tax and other central government employees; 90% of electricity employees were on strike; it was 100% in Mython thermal power plant; contract and casual workers of DVC joined the strike; around 1 lakh beedi workers and 15000 stone quarry workers in Sahebganj and Pakur districts of Santal Paragana; strike was total in state transport; in private transport strike was effective in Dumka, Pakur and Sahebganj while it was partial in Dhanbad, Hazaribagh, and Jamshedpur; loading and unloading workers of MGR working for NTPC were totally on strike; more than 5 lakh construction workers went on strike; workers of 800 small industrial units in Adityapur industrial area of Saraikela - Kharsanwa participated in the strike and conducted a dharna; 300 workers were arrested; strike was total in Hindusthan Copper Limited, in Barud factory; more than 5000 medical representatives participated in the strike; in IFICO sales wing around 80% were on strike; work in mines came to a total halt; rice mills in Dalbhumgarh and Chukulia were closed; strike was observed in the engineering units in Dhanbad and Ramgarh districts; 20% regular workers and 80% contract workers in Bokaro steel went on strike; in HEC in Hatia in Ranchi around 30% workers including contract workers participated in strike; anganwadi employees went on strike and around 1500 held demonstration in Godda; however strike had no impact on Tata industrial area except for a few contract workers; a massive rally was organised in Ranchi by CITU and courted arrest; several CITU leaders including the president and general secretary of the state committee, Sudhir Das and DD Ramanandan were arrested.
The strike call evoked spontaneous response from the workers in different sectors in the state. In many districts, a complete bandh like situation prevailed with markets closed, transport paralysed and streets deserted. It was reported that in around 41 taluks out of the total 175 there was total bandh while in another 15, there was partial bandh.
Strike was total in the public sector enterprises of BEL, BHEL, HAL, ITI, BEML and Hatti Gold mines, with the contract workers participating in their full strength. Strike was also total in the private sector – in Bosch, Volvo, Toyota, Federal Mogul, Kennametal, L&T, ITC, WIPRO, Coca Cola, Pepsicola, Vikrant, Harihara Polyfibres, Kirloskar Electricals, Rajashree Cements, INDALCO, Jindal and other big industries.
In Bangalore the industrial strike was total and all the industries closed their operations. Auto drivers also kept away from roads and participated in the strike. Thousands of workers took out protest marches in all industrial areas and blocked highways. The workers took a largest protest march in the central part of the City and blocked road for more than 4 hours at KG Road in Bangalore. Road block was also organised in Mysore.
Anganwadi employees in 98 taluks participated in the strike; around 300 – 900 anganwadi employees joined the demonstrations in each of these taluks. Mid day meal workers, auto rickshaw drivers, head load workers, beedi, gram panchayat and construction workers etc all over the state joined the strike and participated in large numbers in the protest actions.
The Pre University examinations scheduled on 28th February have been postponed. Several Colleges and Schools in the limits of 23 districts were closed down on the call of Students Federation of India in support of workers strike.
The strike is total in the state. 18 trade unions including all the central trade unions and several local trade unions like STU, KTUC participated in the strike. Workers in the two industrial centres of Kerala viz. Kochi and Alwaye in Ernakuklam district and Kanchikode in Palakkad district participated in the strike totally. Strike in the Kochi port was almost total. The industries under the state and central public sector as well as private sector did not function.
As per preliminary assessment, a total of 75 lakh workers struck work in the state. Shops were closed even in the remotest villages. Vehicular traffic was almost absent. Motor transport workers totally took part in the strike. Unorganised sector workers totally participated in the strike. Agriculture workers, Plantation workers, cashew workers, fisheries workers, coir workers, construction workers, artisans, hand loom, khadi, beedi workers etc. went on strike. Strike in the electricity sector and BSNL was total.
State government employees totally struck work ignoring the dais non declared by the state government. Joint rallies were organised all over the state in district head quarters, industrial centres and panchayat head quarters and towns. Thousands of workers participated in rallies.
The impact of strike was widely felt in the state. In Gwalior, there was a total bandh and workers and other sections of working people resorted to rail roko. Strike was total in BSNL and Defence industry. Medical representatives all over the state joined the strike and held demonstratins. The functioning of the state and central government offices was badly affected due to the strike. In coal industry, the strike was near complete in different areas of WCL; it was 95% in Pathkhera, 75% in Pench kanhan, 60% in SECL’s Kotama, 40% in Hasdev and Pali 40. However, in BHEL in Bhopal, only 20 – 25% permanent workers participated in the strike. All the contract workers in NFL, Guna, in Sanjay Gandhi Power House in Pali participated in the strike.
It was total among the anganwadi employees, ASHAs and USHAs, while 80% loading and unloading workers in the mandis participated in the strike. Industrial workers held massive demonstrations and rallies in the different places in the state. In all the district headquarters big joint rallies and demonstrations were organised.
The working class of Maharashtra joined the all India strike in a big way. It is estimated that more than 20 lakh workers from the organised and unorganised sectors participated in the strike. Mumbai and JNPT Ports were paralysed. Massive strike was reported from industrial areas of Mumbai, Pune, Solapur, Thane, Nasik, Ichhalkaranji, Nagpur and other areas. Strike in HAL, Nasik was total. All the 35 district head quarters witnessed big processions of striking workers and employees. A huge rally was held at Azad Maidan in Mumbai. Bharatiya Kamgar Maha Sangh also joined the strike.
Strike was effective in the state with the attendance in state government offices being badly affected; central government offices like post offices, BSNL, telecom and telegraph offices, AG office and insurance offices were closed; passenger vehicles, petrol tankers, goods trucks etc were off the road; shops and markets in Imphal and other towns in the state were closed; educational institutions, both government and private were also closed
There was bandh like situation in the state on 28th February. Transport came to a complete halt; auto rickshaws did not ply and shops were closed. In Rourkela steel plant around 40% regular workers and 100% contract workers participated in the strike. Adhunik Metalics, OCL Steel, Iron ore mines and sponge iron factories and other industrial units in Sundergarh district were completely closed. Small scale units were also totally closed. Mines and industries in and around Badbil could not function. Work in Paradeep port and other industries in Paradeep came to a standstill due to the strike. The headquarters of Mahanadi coalmines was closed.
Contract workers in NTPC in Talcher thermal plant totally joined the strike. In NALCO in Angul and Damanjodi, the strike was partial; the regular workers held dharna near the factory gates while the contract workers joined the strike. Workers in the industrial estates of Balasore, Bhadrak, Sambalpur, Khurda, and Jajpur Road joined the strike paralysing production.
Thirty thousand auto drivers along with the state road transport workers joined the strike totally paralysing public transport. Train services were disrupted by the picketing by the workers in all the major railway stations in the state. Anganwadi employees, ASHAs and mid day meal workers participated in the strike almost totally. More than 1 lakh workers all over the state participated in the rallies and demonstrations. Around 1000 including Bishnu Mohanty were arrested and detained in Rourkela.
The strike evoked massive response from the working class in Punjab and Chandigarh. Around 80000 industrial workers in Ludhiana, Bathinda, Sangrur, Nawahshahr, Ropar, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Rajkot, Patiala, Derabassi, Mohali, Batala, Malekotla, Ahmedgarh, Mandigobindpur, Jagraon, Rajpura, Patran etc in around 120 big and medium and around 400 small scale industrial units participated in the strike.
Thousands of brick kiln workers, anganwadi employees, ASHAs, mid day meal workers, forest workers, workers of Food Corporation of India, construction workers, private transport workers, loading and unloading workers, state transport corporation workers, medical representatives went on strike. Around 8000 Punjab Roadways workers observed strike for two hours and held rallies and demonstrations near the bus depots. 65% of the electricity workers in Punjab and around 70% in Chandigarh joined the strike. Strike was total in the defence sector, 70% in BSNL. Rallies and demonstrations were held in 110 places; road blocks in 50 places. In many places where no joint trade union rally was held anganwadi employees organised rallies on their own.
Rajasthan was one of the states where the strike had a big and visible impact. All the offices of central government in the state were closed due to the strike; no bus of state transport plied; all the 48 state road transport corporation depots were closed; autos were off the street; in Jodhpur, the entire public transport was affected. 85% of the textile units in the Bhilwara industrial hub were closed; auto rickshaws were off the road in Sikar, Hanumangarh, Jhunjhunu and Sri Ganga nagar. Factories and industrial establishments in Bhilwara, Rajsamund, Jodhpur, Kota, Sri Ganganagar, Jaipur, and Khetri etc were closed due to the strike; big industrial establishments like J& K Tyres, NBC Bearings, Anil Steel, Hindusthan Zinc, Khetri Copper etc were totally closed. Strike was total in Atomic Power Plant in Rawatbhata. State government employees and teachers took mass casual leave.
Strike was massive in the state. The strike was total in banks, insurance, BSNL, state and central government offices, district collectorates, block development offices, income tax offices, and medical department in the entire state. Participation was impressive in the units of state public sector units in electricity, transport, civil supplies, Tamil Nadu Minerals, Poompuhar shipping, Tamil Nadu Magnesite, Dalmia Magnesite, TWAD Board. Strike was total at BHEL Ranipet, IOC, Chennai Port, New and Old Ports at Tuticorin. 90% participation was reported at BHEL Trichy, SAIL Salem, Defence units at Avadi. It was near total in the manufacturing units in and around Chennai which include TVS Group, Simpson, Ashok Leyland, MRF, Eveready, TI Group, Audco Valves, Rane Engine Valves, Rane Motors, L & T, Corborandum, Ennore Foundry, Areva, KCP, Kaparo, Asian Paints, SSL-TTK, HM Lancer, Indian Furniture, TCL, Bharat Aluminium, etc. Strike was 100% in BHEL, Ranipet. Workers of Mettur Power plant, state transport, electricity, cooperatives, road transport, sanitary workers in the local bodies etc went on strike all over the state.
The participation of the workers as well as some of the employers in the small and tiny industries was noteworthy. Coimbatore witnessed a bandh like situation with almost all textiles and industrial units being shut. Autos did not ply. More than 50% of the traders also participated in the call by closing down their shutters. More than three lakh workers have reportedly participated in the district. In Tiruppur, around five lakh workers belonging to hosiery industry, power loom, and metal utensil manufacturing industry have effectively responded to the call. More than 2000 hosiery and their subsidiary units remained closed. In Hosur, strike was total in the strategic automobile industry including the main manufacturing units of TVS and Leyland. In Dindigul strike was total in more than 50 tanneries; 60% of autos did not ply. Strike was total in Suzlon industry in Puducherry, where a rasta roko was also held.
Lakhs of workers in the unorganised sector – the plantation workers in Salem, Nilgiris, Dindigul and other districts, beedi workers in Tirunelveli and Vellore, the salt pan workers including the government salt pan workers in Tuticorin, construction workers, loading and unloading workers, auto drivers, small vendors, tailoring workers, road transport workers, hand loom workers, anganwadi employees, etc - all over the state participated in large numbers in the strike and the demonstrations.
Around one lakh workers participated in the demonstrations held all over the state on the occasion.
Strike was total in all sectors in the state resulting in a bandh like situation. Transport was completely paralysed. Workers in different sectors like plantation, electricity, construction, beedi, anganwadi employees, mid day meal workers, ASHAs etc went on strike and held massive demonstrations.
Despite the ongoing elections to the state assembly, the 28th February strike evoked good response from the employees and workers in the state. All the offices of public sector banks and insurance companies remained closed. Medical and sales representatives were on strike. The employees of Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) expressed their anger by wearing black badges. The glass bangle workers in Firozabad were on strike and participated in a big rally along with construction workers, hotel workers and bank and insurance employees.
The 28th February strike was highly successful in the state despite the severe repression let loose by the administration and the hooligans of the ruling party in the state with the chief minister herself issuing threats of victimisation and suppression.
90% of the tea garden workers in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and North Dinajpur participated in the strike; the Adivasi Vikas Parishad also joined the strike. In Jute industry, strike was 85%; in coal 82%; in steel it was 65%. Hosiery industry witnessed total strike. Except very few, all the engineering units in Hooghly, Howrah, North and South 24 Paraganas and Kolkata were closed. Significantly 85% IT sector workers in Salt Lake participated in the strike. All the workers and employees of state electricity board, CESC, DVC, NTPC and Power Grid went on strike, except for emergency duties. The electricity consumption was 600 megawatt less than on an ordinary working day.
Transport service was severely affected due to the strike. The train services were irregular; the local trains were deserted; the few taxis that ran in the morning went off the roads by the afternoon; 80% auto rickshaws were off the road. Private bus operators were threatened to run the buses but there were very few passengers. In different districts, NBSTC, SBSTC, Surface transport authorities failed to run the buses; people did not board the buses that were forcibly put into service. The launch services were totally stopped. Unorganised workers participated in the strike in a massive way. Except in a few towns, where the workers were threatened by the TMC hooligans, municipal workers all over the state participated in the strike. Most of the establishments in the Bantala leather complex were closed. Workers of IOC, ONGC, BPCL, HPCL participated in the strike; Budge Budge terminal was closed. Around 50% of the workers in the Haldia industrial area took part in the strike, despite the threat by the TMC. 90% of BSNL employees and 75% of Defence employees were on strike.
More than 2000 leaders and workers including Manik Sanyal and Zia ul Alam, leaders of the plantation workers and working committee members of CITU were arrested. Police resorted to severe lathi charge and arrests in many places. Srikumar Mukherjee, former minister and leader of IOC union, journalists of Star Anand and 24 Ghanta were attacked. In West Midnapore, anganwadi employees and school teachers were threatened of dire consequences. In Uttarpara, insurance employees and officers were physically assaulted.
Reports of strike by workers of some industrial units and establishments were received from Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. In Goa also port workers and workers of some industrial units joined the strike. In Port Blair of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Govt employees took staged day-long mass dharna in support of the General Strike.