India braces for massive strike action


Trade union activists in Kolkata participate in a rally on Feb. 23, organised in support of the All India General Strike on Feb. 28.



Millions of government workers in India are planning to go on strike on Tuesday, in what is being described as one of the biggest industrial actions in the country's history.

Reuters' says that the 24-hour strike will include workers from state-run industries including communications, steel, power, transport and the postal service.

Their demands include calls on the government to take measures to contain inflation; provide universal social security cover for workers; and stop selling stakes in state-run companies.

A total of 11 trade unions had officially called for the industrial action, which the Hindustan Times described as "the mother of all strikes."

NDTV said members of over 5,000 unaffiliated trade unions would also take part.  However, it reported that one section of the unions were "backing off", including the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress.

"The strike is politically motivated and illegal. We will oppose it on Tuesday," Ashok Choudhary, national president of INTUC is quoted as saying.

The handful of unions choosing not to participate are backed by the ruling Congress party and its allies such as the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK), IBNS explains.

The news agency says the strike is 'a new headache' for the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which is grappling with weakening economic growth and faces elections in several states after a year of political turmoil and multi-billion dollar corruption scandals.

India is Asia's third largest economy, but ABC Radio Australia said the protests are not expected to significantly affect banks and financial markets.

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