Feb 16 - Strike Action of Workers and Farmers Across the Country!

Defeat the Disastrous Modi – BJP regime!

On 16 February 2024, Industrial / Sectoral Strike and Gramin Bharat Bandh (Rural Strike) called by the Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) was successful with the enthusiastic participation of workers, farmers and agricultural labourers across the country. The toiling masses of the country resorted to various actions including protests, marches and picketing rejecting the Modi regime’s anti-people policies.

AICCTU, in a statement, congratulated and extended its revolutionary greetings to the working masses for asserting their power of struggle. The working class of the country not only highlighted the burning issues but also resolved to defeat the Modi regime in the forthcoming elections. The country witnessed big mobilisations including strikes in various sectors and industrial areas on this day.

The Rural Bandh was enforced all over the country while it was more effective in Punjab, Haryana, Western UP and parts of Rajasthan.

The sectors like Coal and Road Transport, PSUs like NMDC, BHEL and several major industrial areas and zones went on strike at various levels. The state government employees in many states were in action. Employees of banks and insurance sector, electricity, telecom, steel, copper and oil sector organised protests at workplaces and participated in joint processions and meetings. The jute and cotton plantation workers demonstrated on their demands. The railway unions organised demonstrations outside railway stations in several states and defence employees protested in front of their factory gates. Students and teachers extended support and were part of mobilisations in several states. The taxi and auto drivers in many states took to the streets in support of the action. The hawkers and vendors unions, construction and beedi workers, home based workers and domestic workers were part of processions and road roko at many places. The scheme workers - Anganwadi, ASHA, Mid-day meal - and those working under various other schemes of the governments marched on the streets and waged bigger battles. In fact, these women workers were one major reason for the great success of the strike.

A mass civil disobedience was organised in West Bengal on 13th February itself due to board examinations commencing on 16th February in the state. It was a successful militant action throughout the state. Comrade Anarul Islam became a martyr of the strike in the brutal lathi charge by police on protesters at Domkal in Murshidabad of west Bengal. The protests were organised by some unions on the 16th also.

In Assam, workers struck work on 15 February considering the examinations on 16 February. The state witnessed a sectoral strike by scheme workers, construction workers, vendors and hawkers among others. The employees of BSNL and Oil Sector as well as the workers of almost all private industries struck work and resorted to chakka jam throughout the state. There were good mobilisations in rural and urban areas of the state while the rural bandh was also more effective.

In Delhi, a militant demonstration at the Labour Commissioner’s office and another at Jantar Mantar were organised in addition to the joint industrial actions of workers in almost all industrial clusters. In the Wazirpur Industrial area, led by AICCTU, workers resorted to militant actions and enforced the strike defying section 144.  Workers also marched through all factory blocks of the industrial area in the course of enforcing the strike.

The central trade unions and farmers organisations resolved to continue and intensify agitations in the coming days. They also condemned the brutal repression unleashed by Modi regime and Haryana government against protesting farmers at Punjab-Haryana border. The protesting farmers were demanding fulfilment of the government’s promises of legal guarantee of MSP made during the 2021 farmers movement. In the violence against farmers, till now more than 100 farmers have been injured, including three who lost their vision due to the use of pellet guns. The unions noted that the repression and violence have become a defining characteristic of the ruling party that has lost the confidence of people and that has lost the ground. Modi led BJP government has failed to deliver on every promise made to various sections of the Indian people. The toiling masses will thwart the diversionary and divisive tactics of the BJP and RSS and will guarantee the ouster of the disastrous Modi government in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
The participation of scheme workers led by unions affiliated to AISWF-AICCTU was impressive in many states, down to the level of blocks and districts, including states like Bihar, Jharkhand, U.P, Uttarakhand, Orissa, etc.
In Odisha the rural bandh was successful. All India Kisan Mahasabha, AICCTU, and AIARLA participated in Puri, Rayagada, Kendrapara, Bhadark, Koraput, Khurdha, Nygarh, Bolangir, Sonepur and Sundargarh. Workers from sanitation, scheme, transport, construction, domestic work joined the strike in good numbers along with picketing in front of government offices by railway contract labourers and industrial workers. A big rally was also held in front of the Odisha Assembly.
In Andhra Pradesh hundreds of workers from various unions and sectors participated in the huge rally in Vijayawada, along with other districts.

Tamil Nadu unit of AICCTU played an active role in enforcing the strike jointly with other unions and farmers organisations across the state while independently staging a Rasta Roko at Tenkasi and a demonstration at Nagercoil and some other places. Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested, detained and foisted cases by the police. Women workers of sanitation and beedi participated in Rasta Roko in full strength along with construction workers.
In Karnataka, sanitation, construction, health, readymix concrete, industrial and workers of other sectors of AICCTU went on strike demonstrations all across the state jointly with other unions and farmers organisations. AICCTU played a significant role in the struggles on 16 Feb both at urban and rural areas. In districts like Mangalore, we also held an impressive demonstration of scheme, port and other workers independently.

RCF Employees’ Union, Kapurthala, affiliated to AICCTU and IREF held a big rally at Ambedkar Chowk. Railway workers in other zones and production units also demonstrated in solidarity with the strike action.

In U.P, demonstrations were held in various districts including Allahabad, Kanpur and Lucknow.

The industrial strike action on 16 Feb 2024 was a culmination of series of conventions, struggles and protests of workers for a year since all India workers convention at Delhi 30 Jan 2023. Significantly, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the struggling umbrella organisation of farmers of the country, also joined hands with workers for the first time in August 2023, reinforcing the workers battle for democracy and justice against the disastrous Modi led BJP regime at the centre. The country witnessed militant actions on 16 Feb, not only in urban areas but also in rural areas in the form of a rural bandh which is of a greater significance of the action. The solidarity and joint action of workers – farmers of the country is the uniqueness of the strike of the action on 16 Feb.

Another major significance of the strike on 16 Feb was that it was not just an economic strike but a political strike because workers and farmers resolved to overthrow the Modi led BJP regime in the coming elections which has turned into a major disaster for their lives and livelihood, in addition to other economic demands.

This is the most significant part of the rural – urban strike on 16 Feb which should be carried forward.