Mumbai

Mumbai stays peaceful, unaffected by Bharat bandh

Labour unions holding a peaceful march in Bhandup against government’s labour reform policies.

Labour unions holding a peaceful march in Bhandup against government’s labour reform policies.   | Photo Credit: Vibhav Birwatkar

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Train, bus services ply as usual; protesters raise slogans against Prime Minister

Barring banking services, normal life in Mumbai was not hit by the day-long nationwide strike called by Joint Action Committee comprising 10 major trade unions against the Centre’s ‘anti-people’ policies on Wednesday.

While some shops downed shutters in Sena-controlled areas like Dadar and Worli early in the day, most opened their stores as the day progressed. BEST and local train services functioned as did operations at the Mumbai airport and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trusts.

A protest in Malad saw a gathering of local businessmen even as most of the businessmen kept their shops open in the area. Protesters gathered near a Hanuman temple in Malad (West) to protest against the economic crisis and the change proposed in the labour laws by the government. The protesters discussed how the government has been privatising industries resulting in losses to the common man. They also raised slogans against the Prime Minister and recited the poem ‘Hum Dekhenge’ penned by Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Mumtaz Ali Sheikh, proprietor of a screw manufacturing unit, said that due to recession in the market, he had to sack his employees as both the manufacturing contracts and income received were low. “Earlier I had 13 employees working in two shifts each, but now I can only afford three to four labourers that too after in just a single shift. Moreover, the product sells at the same price as it used to six years ago,” he said.

Mr. Sheikh explained that the bigger players were capable of selling their products online due to large scale manufacturing. “Many of them also import products from China, which are a lot cheaper than our products. The government needs to focus on more exports of Indian goods and less on import,” he said.

Prabhakar Narkar, Mumbai president, JD (S), said the youth is suffering from problems like unemployment and job loss but the BJP government was busy with other unimportant issues.

“Businessmen and small-scale industry owners hope that their sales will be better during the festival season, but in vain. Business is down by an average 40%. To help people in this bad time, government needs to keep a constant flow of money in the market and once the flow of money starts, market will slowly return to normal,” said Charul Joshi, secretary, Communist Party of India’s Mumbai unit.

Sea of women

At Dadar’s Kotwal Garden, a sea of women, all members of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), gathered as a mark of protest.

The protest, a part of the nation-wide agitation against government’s ‘anti-labour’ policies, was organised by working women from different parts of the city, who were dressed in colour-coordinated red outfits — representing the colour of AITUC’s flag.

The women also wore badges saying AITUC would complete 100 years this October, as it was started in 1920 in Mumbai.

The protest began with sloganeering which highlighted failures of the ruling regime and also saw protesters demand their right to receive pension, monthly ration and reduction in the prices of daily commodities, which has left the lower-middle class with no purchasing power.

Babli Rahwat, general secretary of AITUC Maharashtra, said that the Maharashtra Rajya Domestic Worker Welfare Board had stopped functioning after 2014. “After 2014, the Board has been completely inactive and they have removed both the representatives of the working class and owners. It has stopped giving ₹10,000 to lower-middle class women, employed as domestic help, after they turn 60. There are some women who do not even have money to consult a doctor. We also urge the government to bring out a policy which will provide these women with free health check-up and medication,” she said.

Comrade Prakash Reddy, general secretary of CPI’s Mumbai unit said, “This happened because the government is only supporting big corporations and is not bothered about the social security of workers. They are privatising the companies and the aim of these private firms is to earn maximum profits therefore they are denying bonus, cutting down on pension of the old workers and are exploiting the labour class. These private firms have also started using ‘hire and fire’ system where there are no permanent workers, and all of them work under contract system which leaves them unemployed after a certain period of time.”

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 11:59:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/mumbai-stays-peaceful-unaffected-by-bharat-bandh/article30518370.ece

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