The one-day token strike called by 10 central trade unions, barring the BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and a lesser-known DHN, on Wednesday, is expected to be widespread and near total, barring some industries which fall under the essential services category.
The BMS has, however, claimed that the public sector undertakings will function normally so services such as power, oil and gas supplies will not be affected by the strike.
Even though most of the workers of private companies will be participating in the strike to show their solidarity with the organised unions, there won’t be any loss of production to the concerned companies since they would be compensating for their absence by working on some other holidays.
“A large number of public sector undertakings which are members of central trade unions are not going on strike on September 2. Thus, services like power, oil and gas supply will not be affected,” BMS general-secretary Virjesh Upadhyay told reporters. “Big PSUs like NTPC, NHPC and PowerGrid will not observe strike on Wednesday. Therefore, the power supply will not be affected,” he said.
Company officials and union leaders FE spoke to indicated that major industrial belts across the Pune-Nashik region in Maharashtra, Gurgaon-Manesar belt in the NCR, plants based in Kerala and West Bengal would witness almost near total stoppage of work in solidarity with the call of the trade unions to protest what they call labour-unfriendly policies of the government.
However, an interesting aspect of the strike is that since most unions in private companies like Bajaj Auto and Tata Motors in Pune region or Maruti Suzuki in the Gurgaon-Manesar belt have unions which are not affiliated to any trade unions, the day would be counted as leave for which they would compensate by working on some other holiday.
A Tata Motors spokesperson said some of their plants worked on Sunday, August 30 and have been given an off in lieu of it on September 2.
According to estimates, around 3 lakh workers in the industrial belt of Pune region would be on strike and a similar number in the Gurgaon-Manesar belt. Vishnupant Nevale, member of the Pune Action Committee that is coordinating between various unions in the region, said 60,000 to 80,000 workers will directly participate in the strike.
The strike will also hit banking operations across the country as most of the banks, barring State Bank of India, will participate in it. However, since ATM machines are managed by third-party private firms who will not be part of the nationwide strike, normal cash withdrawal by consumers will not be impacted much. Internet banking will work, because the RBI’s clearing will remain open.
The strike is also likely not to have much impact in Tamil Nadu, where plants of automobile companies like Ashok Leyland and Hyundai Motor are located. Since in West Bengal there’s mostly operations of PSUs the strike is not expected to make much of a dent but trade unions claim that it would be near total. However, banking services would be hit across the state. The state government has made it mandatory for all its employees to be present on September 2.
A Coal India spokesperson said it was difficult to say what shape would the strike assume but generally coal production doesn’t come to a stand still in any of the strikes. Labour and employment minister Bandaru Dattatreya said that he does not see much impact as BMS and DHN are not participating and three-four other unions are also likely to stay neutral.