The world’s biggest ever strike, India, 28th February 2012

The world’s biggest ever strike, India, 28th February 2012

On February 28th 2012 over 100,000,000 Indian workers will come out on strike. Workers from many unions and sectors are trying to gain improvements in areas such as, pay, pensions, and employment rights.

The strike has been called because workers have said 'enough is enough', after two years of the government refusing to negotiate with unions on any issue. Indian's are sick of the rich getting richer, record economic growth, whilst 400 million people have not got a pot to piss in.

On February 28th 2012, an estimated one hundred million Indian workers will all walk out of work for twenty four hours in what is likely to be the biggest strike in world history.

Over a dozen of India’s largest trade unions have called for and signed up to the strike. The strike will affect many sectors, including public sector banks, ports and docks, railways, insurance, road transport, energy workers, miners, and aviation workers.

“Recent months have seen a mounting wave of militant worker struggles in India, strikes for union recognition in India’s expanding auto sector, including a two-day occupation of a Hyundai plant, a wildcat strike by Air India personnel, and walkouts by telecom workers and coal miners against the central government’s privatization plans.”

The different unions have a variety of different demands, they include gaining the same rights and protection for temporary and contract workers that permanent workers have, raising and extending the minimum wage, resisting the attacks on trade unions, stopping price rises, the creation of a national social security fund, increase in pensions, and combatting corruption.

Despite seeing growth of around 9% each year, more than four hundred million Indians live in absolute poverty. Only a handful of countries enjoy similar growth, yet Indian workers have not even been flicked so much as a crumb from the bosses table. Working and living conditions are equal to, and actually worse than some African countries that are not experiencing the same economic growth.

Indian workers are starting to switch on to the fact that they ‘system’ only serves the wealthy and the bosses.

The last few year has seen a dramatic rise in the number off millionaires and billionaires, yet jobs are lost, wages cut, and unions rights pushed back. India’s richest fifty five people have 1/6th of all the country’s wealth.

Solidarity with the Indian workers on the 28th February

Comments

Def
Jan 26 2012 01:55

Whose up for a solidarity strike that day? I know I am!

working class s...
Jan 26 2012 07:41

sounds like a plan

Steven.
Jan 26 2012 11:08

Will you report back on the day as to how this goes?

working class s...
Jan 26 2012 14:41

Yes indeed

Spikymike
Jan 27 2012 17:14

The Indian economy robust by capitalist standards elswhere has not been unaffected by the current ecomomic crisis.

There have been increasing levels of struggle by workers in India, sometimes winning small improvements but often, as elsewhere, against a deterioration in conditions, including failure to pay wages, closures, speedups etc. Some, but not all, of those strugges have been organised by the trade unions, but I'm not sure that this example of a planned future strike by a combination of unions, is necessarily, depite it's potential size, any different in principle to the kind of token negotiating strategy of say the TUC here more recently?

It will be interesting to see if it happens and whether it becomes a trigger for a more widespread struggle or a means of restraining it?

Some good material on workers struggles in India can always be found at:

http://gugaonworkersnews.wordpress.com/

Steven.
Jan 28 2012 14:25

Just FYI, this is the most popular article on libcom so far this year!

working class s...
Jan 28 2012 15:31

Thats a suprise, I didnt think there would be that much interest

hegelbox
Feb 4 2012 15:11

Any updates on how this went?

Chilli Sauce
Feb 4 2012 16:19

28th Feb, my friend.

archieishere
Feb 22 2012 12:51

Interesting!! Wonder how many of the 400 million of those people who are living in absolute poverty are a part of unionized labour that is going on strike. Go ahead!! Have your strike but please do not say you hold a torch for the people living in abject poverty, Their improvement requires much more effort than a token strike by a fraction of the labour force.

soc
Feb 22 2012 13:07
archieishere wrote:
Interesting!! Wonder how many of the 400 million of those people who are living in absolute poverty are a part of unionized labour that is going on strike. Go ahead!! Have your strike but please do not say you hold a torch for the people living in abject poverty, Their improvement requires much more effort than a token strike by a fraction of the labour force.

I don't understand really what you're saying. Those of the 400 millions can join to protest too, unionized or otherwise. Or again, just trolling here to say that 100 million workers striking is just plain greed. (A'la mainstream liberal bs).

revol68
Feb 22 2012 13:10
archieishere wrote:
Interesting!! Wonder how many of the 400 million of those people who are living in absolute poverty are a part of unionized labour that is going on strike. Go ahead!! Have your strike but please do not say you hold a torch for the people living in abject poverty, Their improvement requires much more effort than a token strike by a fraction of the labour force.

What a mornonic statement.

"Interesting!! Wonder how many of the 400 million of those people who are living in absolute poverty are on the internet making snidey ignorant comments that seeks to divide the working class. Go ahead have your pointless comment but please do not say you hold a torch for the people living in abject poverty. Their improvement requires much more than an idiotic comment by some no mark regarding 100 million workers going on strike."

I think this strike has huge significance, especially since it really does highlight the absurdity of those wankers who proclaimed the death of the proletariat because they lacked not only the ability to grasp it beyond a crude caricature of the factory worker but also the ability to thin beyond their own euro centrism.

S2W
Feb 22 2012 20:03

deleted

jef costello
Feb 22 2012 21:16

1/12 of the population, not just the workforce, on strike. That's over 5M people in England. If the numbers are correct then I can't see how the 400M can't be involved to at least some extent.

archieishere
Feb 23 2012 05:07

All I am saying is that the strikers should not say that they are striking on behalf of the 400 million who are living in abject poverty. Even if the management was to meet all the demands of the unions, would that lift the people living below the poverty line in one go?

archieishere
Feb 23 2012 05:09

So you think the strike is to change the perception of the "wankers". smile

Chilli Sauce
Feb 23 2012 09:04

One, I don't know if anyone has said that that the 100 million are striking on behalf of the 400 million. The only reference I can find to 400 million in the original article is in relation to the India's inequality:

Quote:
Indian's are sick of the rich getting richer, record economic growth, whilst 400 million people have not got a pot to piss in.

Presumably, the majority of the 100 million strikers will be from the "400 million people who have not got a pot to piss in".

Two, it's a labour market. Good wages for one section of the class put upward pressure on wages across the board. For this particular strike, however, this is even more explicit as the strikers are not simply concerns with their immediate wages, but pushing for wide ranging societal reforms like an increase in the minimum wage, price controls, and a national social security fund:

Quote:
The different unions have a variety of different demands, they include gaining the same rights and protection for temporary and contract workers that permanent workers have, raising and extending the minimum wage, resisting the attacks on trade unions, stopping price rises, the creation of a national social security fund, increase in pensions, and combatting corruption

Those are things that are going to help the entire Indian working class.

But, really, I just think you're a trolling x. admin: no flaming, even if we agree with your point

archieishere
Feb 23 2012 11:32

I am not sure if you are aware of India's labour market. Have a look at the periodic Employment Unemployment survey brought out by NSSO. India's labour market is extremely dichotomous. The unionized workers constitute less than 10% of the workforce. Majority of the workforce works in the unorganized sector and do not have the luxury of going on a strike for their demands. This 90% of the labour comprises bulk of the 400 million and not the unionized labour force.

Two, if the unionized workers were so much concerned about "wide ranging societal reforms" they would ask for disbanding of the Act, which does not allow firing of workers even if the business closes. Which corporate will like to employ workers if he knows that he can not lay them off if he goes bankrupt? Finally, if your labour market "theory" was true then wouldn't it be the case that the surge in wages of managers/engineers would have put an upward pressure on wages of landless labourers. The key reason is skill deficit in India, which has caused this huge gap. Focusing just on entitlements and doles will not solve the situation. I am sure you have heard the saying -- give a man a fish and he can feed of it for one day, teach him to build a net and ............

Now who is a trolling wanker.smile

Chilli Sauce
Feb 23 2012 13:08

Well, besides being inconsistent in your own arguments, you have just proven your own right-wing trolling credentials.

This is a communist forum dude, what's needed to increase the standard of living is the repeal of an act that's designed to protect workers when a firm goes bust. If you think we, as workers, need to court corporations through our own precariousness so they give us jobs.

Now, you do raise one point that labour markets can be industrial as well as national so, of course, wage increases in one industry are most like to be felt in that particular industry.

However, good "wages" for managers don't put pressure on the wages of workers. In the US, CEOs make on average 500 times that of their employees and that doesn't do do shit for workers wages because--and here's where the communism comes in again--it's workers that create wealth. The salaries of managers, bureaucrats, consultants, politicians and executives are paid out of the wealth that is extracted from the labour of the working class.

On the unions, most regular posters on this site have a far deeper critique of trade unionism than you could ever offer. That said, according to Wikipedia, the Indian labour force is 467 million. That means over 20% of workers will be coming out for this strike. (More, hopefully, if unionised workers link up with non-unionised workers, the unemployed, and social movements).

So even if only 10% of the workforce is union, this strike has already spread beyond the unionised workforce.

Admin edit: removed insults and swearing. This is a no-flaming forum.

Chilli Sauce
Feb 23 2012 12:26

Also,

Quote:
Majority of the workforce works in the unorganized sector and do not have the luxury of going on a strike for their demands

You don't need a union to strike, it happens all the time both in non-union workplaces and against the wishes of union officials:

http://libcom.org/tags/wildcat-strikes

working class s...
Feb 23 2012 19:59

Also, another recent example from India, were traditionally non-unionised nurses start a union and form 400 branches in two months, and go on indefinite strike over pay etc. From what I am hearing they are well on the way to winning significant concessions.

http://libcom.org/blog/indian-nurses-start-%E2%80%98indefinite%E2%80%99-strike-02022012

jef costello
Feb 23 2012 21:16
archieishere wrote:
I am not sure if you are aware of India's labour market. Have a look at the periodic Employment Unemployment survey brought out by NSSO. India's labour market is extremely dichotomous. The unionized workers constitute less than 10% of the workforce. Majority of the workforce works in the unorganized sector and do not have the luxury of going on a strike for their demands. This 90% of the labour comprises bulk of the 400 million and not the unionized labour force.

100 million is 1/12 of the population, which is 8.5 % So virtually all of the population would have to be in the workforce for that to be true. Unlikely.

archieishere
Feb 26 2012 17:05

CS-- Other that questioning my beliefs I did not see any consistent argument on your part. The argument that you have offered is precisely the reason why India continues to have a high unorganized sector. The handful of unionized workers are the biggest obstacle to the dilution of the unorganized sector through their insistence on preservation of an archaic law. Nobody is questioning the social security that needs to be offered to the worker in case of him being asked to leave. However, this is very different from not allowing the corporation to close down a business in case of bankruptcy. If this happens corporation with their capita, which is far more mobile than labour, always has the option of setting their business in a more investor friendly destination and employ workers there. Then who will be the loser?

Your second argument -- "However, good "wages" for managers don't put pressure on the wages of workers." is in direct contradiction to your post on 23rd Feb where you said "Good wages for one section of the class put upward pressure on wages across the board". You need to be more consistent.

Ed
Feb 26 2012 17:54

Archie, you've not addressed any of the points made, you've only restated your original point - that labour markets need to be boss-friendly so as to attract investment..

You don't address CS's point at all. That is, do "you think we, as workers, need to court corporations through our own precariousness so they give us jobs"? And if so, how then do you think this will lead to improvements for the lives of people in India (beyond just simply 'having work', no matter how bad the pay, conditions etc)? I'm basically asking you to compare sweatshop labour to the workers' movement for increasing living standards.. and let me give you a hint, it wasn't sweatshop labour that won us the weekend.. wink

As for this bit..

archieshere wrote:
Your second argument -- "However, good "wages" for managers don't put pressure on the wages of workers." is in direct contradiction to your post on 23rd Feb where you said "Good wages for one section of the class put upward pressure on wages across the board". You need to be more consistent.

.. I think there's a basic misunderstanding of who we mean when we say workers and you seem to have ignored CS's next sentence (that of CEO's wages). So, for us, 'workers' wouldn't include CEOs.. they would be bosses, capitalists or whatever you want to call them. If you want to read more about class and class struggle, read our introduction.

You also don't address the points made about your slightly dodgy looking numbers (that unionised workers are only 10% of the workforce when the 100 million expected to strike would be 10% of the entire population) or that you don't need a union to strike (see any of the massive strikes that have happened in China) or recently un-unionised sectors have been getting organised.

communal_pie
Feb 26 2012 18:26

The question that needs to be asked is, if everyone refused crap wages then where would the capitalist class get their cheap labour?

And if managers are workers, then how comes their wages are in almost all cases, determined very differently to that of average workers. In this country, they supposedly require very different skillsets (there are all sorts of management courses and qualifications, all BS of course).

Also, workers who aren't unionised have gone on strike in India and in many other places, for example the recent rickshaw drivers strike in New Delhi.

Chilli Sauce
Feb 26 2012 19:57

Ed, you're being too friendly to this guy.

In any case, here we come to the crux of the matter:

Quote:
Your second argument -- "However, good "wages" for managers don't put pressure on the wages of workers." is in direct contradiction to your post on 23rd Feb where you said "Good wages for one section of the class put upward pressure on wages across the board". You need to be more consistent.

You, archieishere, don't understand what class is.

Now, I could forgive this if it wasn't for the fact that the same Feb 23rd post explains it to you:

Quote:
it's workers that create wealth. The salaries of managers, bureaucrats, consultants, politicians and executives are paid out of the wealth that is extracted from the labour of the working class.

Also, admins, fair enough you edited where I said "fuck you" to another poster. But you also took out me saying "fuck you" to corporations which not only leaves an incomplete sentence, but is not very FULL COMMUNISM at all angry

archieishere
Feb 27 2012 05:47

Ed. If you could change the world to where labour was as mobile as capital then you could treat them symmetrically. If the idea is to generate employment so as to improve livelihood of workers then you need to create conditions to attract investment that will employ labour. The alternate, that labour will go to work in places where investment is being undertaken is not possible. Otherwise every unemployed worker would have flocked to China.

The class distinction that you talk about is difficult to distinguish in reality. At what position in the spectrum of a corporation do you draw a line between workers and managers. If it is based on payoffs then again in most corporations the composition of payoffs only change gradually across the spectrum.

CP The Rickshaw drivers that you refer to are a part of union. Infact there are 3 to 4 rickshaw drivers unions in Delhi itself.

Chilli Sauce
Feb 27 2012 07:58

Well, mate, even if those particular rickshaw drivers were in a union, lots of non-unions wildcats happen around the world all the time. And, as someone pointed out, a lot the industrial action in India is with newly organised unions, like nurses.

Workers = people who sell their labour time and don't own the means of production.

Capitalist = those who own the means of productions; could be individuals, corporations, or even the state.

Bosses/Managers = those in the workplace with the power to hire and/or fire or the power to discipline workers.

archieishere
Feb 27 2012 08:31

What do you call those who receive part of their salary in cash and another as employee stock options as is the increasing trend?

no1
Feb 27 2012 09:06
archieishere wrote:
What do you call those who receive part of their salary in cash and another as employee stock options as is the increasing trend?

Depends on whether they have the power to hire and fire. It's also pretty irrelevant to strikes in India.