At least 10 Central Trade Unions of the country launched a massive shutdown across India bringing essential services to a halt in many states. A total of 18 crore workers are on the streets demanding rise in minimum wage.
The most affected by Bharat Bandh – the second since September 2015 – are Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, and Karnataka.
Though Delhi has been less affected, the NCR region is witnessing protests at certain places especially near the industries and factories.
Workers protesting in Uttar Pradesh. ANI
Protesters include employees of at least six public sector banks and government hospital staff resulting in banking and medical services taking a hit.
What is their demand?
The protesters are demanding that the government raise the minimum wage of unskilled workers to what the 7th Pay Commission arrived at after a meticulous computation.
According to the 7th
Pay Commission, the minimum wage of the unskilled workers should be around Rs.18,000 per month or Rs.692 per day. The government, on the other hand, said that it will raise the minimum wage to Rs.350 per day from the current Rs.246.
Figures sourced from TOI.
According to the government, the proposal for raising the minimum wage was made as per deliberations in the meeting of Minimum Wage Advisory Board held on August 29, but, according to TOI, trade unions claim that such a proposal never surfaced. Unions involved in the bandh are left-affiliated and states with Congress or Left governments are the ones bearing the brunt of the bandh.
In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has claimed that she won’t let the bandh succeed even though she is out of the country to attend Mother Teresa’s canonization at Vatican City.
In Delhi, nurses have joined in the chorus.
In Uttar Pradesh, state unions too have reportedly joined in the strike. Roads were mostly empty as public transport went off roads. In Karnataka, the Congress-led state government is backing the strike. Schools and colleges remained shut due to Bandh. The Bandh appears to have been most successful in Left-ruled Kerala with all essential services including colleges closed.
Not affected by the Bandh are services such as milk and water, medical shops and Indian Railways.