150-200 million workers brought India to a virtual standstill 8-9th of January. The key union demand towards the government was to engage in genuine consultation with unions over reform of labour laws. Unions demand that the government ratify ILO Conventions 87 and 98 and stop pro-employer labour law amendments that will lead to deterioration of working conditions.
Ten trade union centres and several independent federations joined together for a historic general strike on 8 and 9 January 2019. Workers in manufacturing, mining, energy, transportation, banking, public services, construction and many other sectors took part. For the first time, agricultural workers and farmers also called for a solidarity shutdown of rural India.
Unions called for the implementation of urgent measures to contain price rise through universalization of public distribution systems and banning of speculative trade in the commodity market; reduce unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation; and achieve the strict enforcement of fundamental labour laws.
Unions also demand:
- Universal social security coverage for all workers
- A minimum wage of not less than Rs 15,000 (US$213) per month, with provisions of indexation
- A pension of not less than Rs 3,000 (US$43) per month for the entire working population
- An end to disinvestment in and sale of central public sector enterprises
- Anend to casualization of permanent work
- Compulsory registration of trade unions within 45 days