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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Junior Doctors strike in UK ~ Bharat Bandh on 2.9.16 ~ will it serve any purpose ??

Away in UK, Theresa May has accused junior doctors of “playing politics” in the dispute over the forced imposition of a new contract on them. Junior doctors say the new contract, which is being imposed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, will harm patient safety and exacerbate a staffing crisis in the NHS.  The Government says the new deal, which doctors rejected in a ballot, will help deliver a manifesto commitment to improved care on weekends. The Health Secretary this  morning blamed doctors for patients left in “pain” during the strike, which will take place from 8.00am to 5.00pm every day from 12 to 16 September.

Back  home, they are not new ! .. ..  Bandh, originally a Sanskrit word meaning "closed", is a form of protest used by political activists. A Bharat bandh is a call for a bandh across India.  The Left-affiliated central trade unions have called for a nationwide strike on September 2 to protest against ‘anti-labour policies’ of the government. The trade unions will also be joined by the employees of six public sector banks in their fight. Many banks have already communicated to their customers about the likely inconvenience.
It may not be a total black-out but some part of  banking, public transport and telecom will be hit. Commuters will have a tough time as many autorickshaw unions in cities such as Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad have decided to keep off the roads on Friday.  Railways have not opted  ~  trains will run smoothly. Schools and colleges, too, have not declared an official holiday. Though some public banks have decided to join the strike, private banks, ATMs will remain functional.

The trade unions have opposed the government’s proposal to hike minimum wage for unskilled workers by up to 20 per cent to Rs 12,000 per month for Tier-I cities, saying it should be more in view of price rise. The unions are demanding social security for workers and a minimum wage of not less than 18,000 per month. They also want an assured enhanced pension of not less than 3,000 per month for all sectors, including unorganised workers. They also want FDI to be removed from railways, defence and other “strategic sectors”.

Everytime, Unions would claim that this will be biggest ~ yet many a times, they do fizzle out.  Indian Railways and other Central government employees will not be a part of it as the government has already constituted a committee to look into their demand of raising monthly minimum wage from Rs 18,000 to about Rs 26,000 under the 7th Pay Commission. Also not participating in the strike is the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh which opted out after the government accepted the advisory board recommendations and raised the minimum wage from Rs 246 to Rs 350 per day for non-agricultural workers.

NDTV reports that  workers of state-run Coal India Ltd will be on strike - power plants have enough coal on hand to operate even if nothing is mined over the next 50 to 60 days, said Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal.  The turnaround of Coal India has been one of the  Modi government's main successes, and the company is producing so much these days that it is having to consider exports for the first time. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said her government will not allow offices or factories to close and that public transport will run as normal.

There was a time when everything would come to a standstill in a bandh, especially, when Bank employees time it with continuous holidays.  Perhaps gone are those days ~ now when most in cities transact only Online and go to ATMs, this bandh may not have a total shut-off effect.  There will be claims of ‘bandh affecting routine’ – counterclaims that it was business as usual.  A couple of decades, most were State run and anything against the State would paralyse the normal life.  It was extremely powerful means of civil disobedience and protest against the actions of the Govt.  One of the more famous Bharat Bandh was organized in Aug 1989, when Rajiv Gandhi was in power.  As the opposition resorted to stoppage of public transportation and threatened the shops to close [cinema theatres also would remain closed – as also hotels], the Govt did all that was in its power to break the bandh. 

Curiously, on that day the PSU employees were asked to attend Office and to facilitate their attendance they were allowed to report to their nearest branch and were provided arranged lunch too  – at places, it was mockery of work – an employee working in a Branch going to another Branch was only symbolic attendance – no functional work took place that day. Remember walking up to my Office (from Triplicane to Esplanade/Parrys) and doing regular work till end of office hours on that day !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

1st Sept. 2016.

1 comment:

  1. It's very important that we know our rights especially if we are working in the healthcare sector. If we want to continue helping people the Government should also acknowledge our hard work, like the stories I've read from http://alltopreviews.com/services/essaythinker which are totally eye opening and inspiring.

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