SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — India’s labor unions began flexing their collective muscle last Friday — 180 million organized workers in the country are on protest against the economic policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration.
The workers are comprised of 10 of the country’s largest trade unions, which include employees of banks, government telecom companies and coal mining firms. However, Indian railway workers, central government employees and members of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS)— a sister body of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — did not participate in the one-day protest.
“Besides ports and civil aviation, essential services like transport, telecom, and banking will be paralyzed,” SP Tiwari, secretary of the Trade Union Coordination Committee, a labor union, said. “The workers will go on strike in hospitals and power plants but the protest will not affect their normal functioning.”
Last year, a similar strike cost the economy more than Rs25,000 crore ($4 billion).
The workers have presented Modi with a list of demands, 12 in total, which call for a monthly minimum wage of Rs18,000 and a pension of Rs3,000. They’re also asking the government to cease the divesting of various public sector units, change the foreign direct investment policy, and ensure universal social security for all workers.
The government has assured the protestors it intends to look into their demands — In the last one-and-a-half years, the inter-ministerial committee had met with central trade unions,” India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley said. “The government has taken some decisions with regard to those (demands) on the basis of their recommendations.”