Thousands protest in Delhi in support of 'Bharat Bandh'

New Delhi


Thousands of members from at least ten trade unions on Wednesday protested here against the Centre and extended their support to the all-India shutdown by trade unions.

Gathered at the Shaheed Park, the members then walked towards the ITO intersection and blocked a section of Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.

Holding red trade union flags and braving the winter drizzle, the protesters shouted slogans "Stop attacking students", "Stop attacking universities", "India belongs to us", "Stop dividing us", and "NRC, CAA, NPR will not be allowed".

They extended support to the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and anti-National Register of Citizens (NRC) protests as also to protesting students, saying these issues are affecting all Indians, including labour.

The demonstration was called to support the all-India general strike called by the trade unions.

The said they are on streets across the country because they are unhappy with the "Modi-Shah government as they have destroyed the country".

Speaking to IANS, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said people are here as they want to save the Constitution.

"We are here to save the Constitution. Those who are not following the Constitution are nobody to blame anyone else for anything. This is to save India from privatisation and to save the jobs of our people," she said.

She accused the Central government of not seeing the suffering of the people.

"We are here to get their attention," she said.

"The workers of India have stood up to save the Constitution. We all are here to save the country," she added.

A number of protesters also brought their children and, when asked, they said the next generation should be aware of what is happening in the country and "we don't want them to suffer like we are doing".

Ther nationwide strike has been called by ten central trade unions -- INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC -- independent federations and associations of various sectors, including some independent unions.

It was called against the "anti-worker", "anti people" and "anti-national" policies of the Narendra Modi government.

"The national economy is slowing down. The adverse effects are already being felt by the workers in unorganised as well as organised sectors in the form of large scale retrenchment and closures. The government measures are supply-side, when all the economists are unanimous that the crisis is on the demand-side," said a trade union leader while addressing the gathering here.

While the central trade unions are jointly demanding a national minimum wage of Rs 14,842 per month for Delhi workers, they are also asking for pensions to all, scrapping of the National Pension System (NPS) and restoration of the old pension scheme.

They also demanded control on the price rise in essential commodities, a universal public distribution system, generation of new jobs and filling up of sanctioned posts, among others.

Addressing the gathering, another union leader said that in the name of recession, the central government is taking steps such as reducing corporate taxes, and giving corporates a big bonanza to the tune of Rs 1.45 lakh crore from the national exchequer, while not a single penny is being spent on ensuring job security or employment allowance to the workers.

The trade unions are against the privatisation of railways and corporatisation of 49 defence production units.

Merging 44 labour laws into four codes is also one of the demands of the protesting trade unions.IANS