Indian striking bank employees sit next to the closed gates of a bank in Kolkata July 29, 2016. (AFP)
More than a million Indian workers are set to go on strike across India
to protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi
’s controversial labor reforms and a plan to close some loss-making firms.
Major Indian trade unions announced on Tuesday that workers from banking, telecoms and other sectors, who are seeking higher wages, will go on strike on Friday.
All India Trade Unions Congress and Center of Indian Trade Unions have also rebuffed a government appeal to call off the strike, saying the Modi administration has failed to address their demands.
Tapan Sen, the general secretary of the Center of Trade Unions, said the strike would go on despite a recent promise by the government to release state employees’ bonuses for the last two years, and increase minimum wages for unskilled laborers.
Sen added that there had not been any “tangible proactive steps” by the government to address union demands.
Some workers at Coal India Ltd (COAL.NS) are also due to join the strike.
An Indian family wait for transport as taxis on strike are parked at the main railway station in the capital New Delhi on July 26, 2016. (AFP)
However, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, another major union, which is loosely affiliated with the Hindu nationalist group, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is not joining the industrial action.
Unions have been demanding a rollback of privatization in sectors such as railways and defense, and an increase in minimum wages over the past months. The unions also oppose a government directive to state-run pension funds to put more money into stock markets.
An Indian railway employee washes down the railway track at a railway station in Amritsar in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab on July 5, 2016. (AFP)
Premier Modi’s government has implemented a raft of economic reforms in an attempt to ease labor laws and attract foreign investment to the country since Modi took office in May 2014.
His administration aims to raise 560 billion rupees (USD 8.35) through privatization this fiscal year,
The government plans to shut down some companies as losses at 77 state-run companies exceeded USD 4 billion in the last fiscal year.
There is a growing feeling among people that the good days promised by the Modi administration remain a distant dream.