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Featured Image: A file photo the Left parties’ rally in Kolkata on Monday in support of tomorrow’s bandh. 

WHAT: A general strike or bandh convened by a conglomeration of 11 trade unions belonging to the Communist parties and the Congress. The trade unions had announced the strike in the month of May itself.

WHEN: The 24-hour bandh commences at 6 am on Wednesday, 2 September. It’s a pan India strike, meaning all states and Union Territories are in its ambit.

SECTORS: Everything from train services to IT sector, from vegetable markets to shopping malls are under the bandh’s ambit as it is a general strike. The Left has also brought the tea gardens in north Bengal under the bandh’s fold.

ADD-ON: The near 22,000-odd yellow taxis in Kolkata have called a 24-hour strike (until Tuesday evening it was 48-hours) from 6 am on Wednesday coinciding with the trade union bandh. They have demands like permanent taxi stands in Kolkata, stopping police harassment etc.

WHY: There are 12 centralised demands that have been listed by the trade unions as the reason for the bandh. In their campaigns, trade unions are including local issues and demands as well.

The 12 listed demands:

  1. Stopping all pro-management Labour Law amendments. 
  2. Removing the existing ceilings on eligibility for bonus and provident fund benefits for all government workers and increase the quantum of gratuity.
  3. Stop contractual employment in permanent perennial work, and paying similar wage and benefits to all existing contract workers. 
  4. Assured enhanced pension of at least Rs.3,000 per month for the entire working population.
  5. Universal social security cover for all workers.
  6. Containing unemployment by adopting concrete steps towards employment generation.
  7. Containing the price-rise by introducing a universal Public Distribution System and banning speculative trade in commodity market.
  8. Strict enforcement of labour laws without any exemption and stringent punitive measures for employers violating labour laws. 
  9. Ensuring a minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month for all workers with inbuilt provision for inflation-linked pay revision (indexation).
  10. Stop divesting Central / state public section undertakings (PSU).
  11. Facilitating registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of submitting application and immediate ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions C-87 and C-98.
  12. Stopping FDI in Railways, Insurance and Defence.

PRECAUTION: A number of private schools in Kolkata, Howrah, Asansol, Durgapur and Siliguri have notified a holiday either because they do not want to risk children to face bandh picketers or the school bus operators have refused to ply buses on Wednesday.

WAY OUT: Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal has taken a strong stand against the bandh and has announced several measures like arranging night-stay for secretariat staff in their offices on Tuesday night, issuing circulars making attendance in government offices mandatory tomorrow, announcement to run additional buses and deployment of additional policemen during the bandh.

But these measures are likely to be effective only in Kolkata and the districts stand a chance to get paralysed tomorrow. If you live in Kolkata, Metro trains will run tomorrow as usual from 7 in the morning. You can also expect auto-rickshaws to ply in most city routes.

Never mind the taxi strike, Ola, Uber, Meru, TaxiForSure and Mega Cabs said their cabs will be available for hire via smart phones. You can expect such cabs to be available for travel to and from airport and railway stations.

EVENING: Although it’s a 24-hour general strike, one can expect the impact to lessen after sunset. If you have a vehicle of your own or you live in a place adjacent to the Metro route (in Kolkata), you can always plan a movie or eating-out in the evening. Last Metro trains will originate from Dum Dum and New Garia stations at 9.55 pm.