All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta has said the two-day general strike on February 20 and 21 will bring all economic activities in the country to a standstill.
Mr. Dasgupta said the general strike, called by all the 11 recognised central trade unions against the ‘anti-people economic policies’ of the Central government, would be the largest such agitation in the country.
“It is for the first time that a 48-hour general strike is being called after Independence,” he said. It would cripple the functioning of all strategic industries, including telecommunications, posts, banks, insurance, and transportation, though the Railway unions were not joining the strike.
He said the second day of the strike coincided with the President’s address to the Budget session of Parliament. The strike would hit all walks of life.
Unions join hands
Mr. Dasgupta claimed that apart from the recognised central trade unions, over 2,000 independent unions across the country were joining in the protests against the unbridled price rise, rise in the price of diesel, train fare hike, foreign direct investment, and others.
He said Chief Ministers of Odisha, Bihar, and Karnataka had offered their moral support to the general strike. The Shiv Sena too supported the strike. Asked about CITU’s decision to restrict the strike to one day in West Bengal, Mr. Dasgupta said there were some ‘local adjustments’ in West Bengal as the State was observing International language Day on February 21. Asked about West Bengal government’s attitude to the strike, he said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was ‘totally opposed’ to it.
He alleged that the Central government was covering up its ‘economic terrorism’ with its so-called fight against terrorism and extremism. The corporates had taken over the government and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia were framing economic policies to suit the rule by the corporates.
Mr. Dasgupta said the Union government had not so far offered to talk to the trade unions. “The Prime Minister has no time to talk to us, but he has all the time to talk to Vijay Mallya and other corporate bosses,” he said.