Trade unions have called for two days complete Bharat bandh. In this Bharat bandh around 20 crore workers (estimated) can participate formully or informally. The meeting of Joint Platform of Central Trade union was held on March 22nd in Delhi and in this meeting only the final decision was been taken that there will be a two-day all India strike on 28-29 March. Earlier as well, there was a talk running that this strike will happen in the month of February but it was delayed to March.
When we talk about informal workers the people from farming sector and rural India have participated in this Bharat bandh. Various sectors such as banks, insurance, Income Tax, postal, Telecom, power, oil, steel, coal and copper and their Unions will participate in this 2 day Bharat bandh. Apart from it unions of Railways and defence sectors is also accepted to participate for this 2 day Bharat bandh.
Now the question arises in our mind is that why they are going for a 2 day strike and what are the demands for which they are doing this? The protest is being called because of some changes brought up by the central government in labour laws etc. The demand is to scrap the labour laws reforms which they have introduced in 2020. The 2nd demand is to stop any kind of privatisation which the government is planning in any sector whether it is banking on LIC. The 3rd demand is regarding not to move ahead with National monetisation pipeline plan as through this government will give such under utilise assets into the hands of private players on lease through which they can monetize that asset and can earn revenue from it. The fourth demand is to, regular the contract workers and increase the wages of MGNREGA workers. The reason for the Bharat bandh includes the reduced rate of interest rate what employees are getting in EPF and another reason is the constant increase in the prices of fuel.
To counter the 2 day Bharat bandh government is saying that we will invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA). But still after the warning, workers in the departments like Roadways, Transport and electricity have also announced decision to join this 2 day Bharat bandh. There is a probability that the ESMA will be enforced in Haryana and Chandigarh apart from that the ministry of power has also said to all the PSU's that electricity supply should not be disrupted.
In the above paragraph I talked about ESMA that is Essential Services Maintenance Act. It is a law that can be invoked by the government. Suppose any government department and the employees of it went to a strike and if by going on strike the normal life of citizens get disturbed then the government can invoke the ESMA and can say to the unions that you are no more allowed to do the strike.
Here one more question comes in our mind that, what can be called as the essential services? Any services with respect to which the Parliament has power to make laws. There are three list in the seventh schedule of the Constitution so anything which is there in the union list, government consider it as an essential services. Sanitation, water supply, hospitals or related with the defence of the country are considered as essential. Production of electricity, supply of fuel, fertilizers, they are also considered as the essential services. Apart from this, any service in connection with banking can be subject to ESMA.
It is very important for us to know this fact that in our country people can go on a strike. It is not illegal, but it is not also your fundamental right. Right to strike is a legal right and right to protest is a fundamental right. If Centre Government imposes this ESMA a on let's say water services or Railway services than people of these two sectors can't go for a strike but even if people goes on strike then certain actions can be taken against them such as they can be dismissed, a legal action can also be taken and any police officer gets the right to arrest that person without any warrant. If any person is instigating others to join the strike even the ESMA is invoked then he or she can have a jail term of one year or a fine as well.