BY EVA CHENG
Up to 50 million workers across India took part in a one-day general strike on May 21. Demands included a halt to the central government's privatisation program, an end to job cuts, a halt to the implementation of anti-labour laws, a social security net for all workers, legislation to protect agricultural workers and an end to the further removal of import restrictions.
The general strike was called by seven national trade union federations, led mainly by left-wing parties. Banking and insurance services were "totally paralysed", according to India's mainstream Tribune newspaper on May 21.
The BBC on May 21 reported that "train services in both Eastern and South Eastern railway were hit as protesters blocked railway tracks". The blocking of roads, demonstrations and other street actions were also reported in many Indian cities. The BBC on May 22 reported that the stoppage also "severely affected" transport and mining sectors and "brought Calcutta to a virtual standstill as protesters marched through the streets".
More than 5000 striking workers were arrested, according to the May 22 Tribune.
From Green Left Weekly, June 4, 2003.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.