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INDIAN workers joined a nationwide strike led by farmers and supported by trade unions today against unjust agricultural and labour laws.
Farmers have been protesting for four months against new labour codes that will see their incomes slashed by big business.
The new legislation also makes sackings easier, increases the working day to 12 hours and makes it more difficult for workers to go on strike.
The All-India shutdown (Bharat bandh) was called by the United Peasants Front (SKM), an umbrella body of farmers’ organisations spearheading the ongoing protests across India.
Between 6am and 6pm, demonstrators blocked roads and railways and closed markets nationwide.
Ahead of the action, striking farmers on the border between the Delhi area and Uttar Pradesh state said that today’s action had wider aims than the defeat of the three farm laws and defence of the right to sell crops at the minimum support price.
“[It is also about] rolling back of four labour code laws, stopping the selling of government and public-sector enterprises, growing inflation, employment for youth and women’s safety,” they said in a statement.
“Except for ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-related Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh [Labour Union of India], all central trade unions have extended their full support for this bandh.
“Some of India’s prominent trade associations, transport associations, student unions, youth organisations, women’s organisations and intellectuals are also in support of this bandh.
“Along with the left parties, several regional parties have also extended their support.”
The SKM called on all people, unions and organisations worldwide to show solidarity with India’s workers and amplify the voice of the farmers’ movement.
The day of action included a drive to defeat the BJP in forthcoming elections in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP politicians have been campaigning heavily in West Bengal and Assam, where there is a sizeable Muslim minority, and are banking on its strong Hindu nationalist ideology to draw votes.
The party is promising to deport hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims who came to the country decades ago.
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