A Strike that costs India Rs 26,000 Crore

Editor’s Desk: The nation of 1.2 billion came to a complete halt today, as 11 registered Trade Unions of the country went on a two-day strike to protest against UPA Government’s “anti-people” policies. They achieved little, but delivered a big blow to the economy, as the ASSOCHAM put the total loss at Rs 26,000 crore.

The two-day shutdown hit banking, services, transport, schools, colleges, railways, flight operations and many others. The trade unions protested against high inflation, fuel price hike and FDI, while the bank and government employees wanted the implementation of their revised pay and other benefits. They finally ended up damaging the economic prospects of the country further.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) issued a statement, saying the strike would cause an estimated loss of Rs. 15,000-20,000 crore. “The national economy, battling a slowdown, can ill-afford this situation. In fact, the strike will aggravate the price situation because of a disruption in the supply of essential commodities. Given the nature of the strike and the involvement of all the five major central trade unions, it is going to largely affect the services sector, including banking, financial services, tourism and transportation, all of which are major contributors to the country’s GDP,” said Assocham president Rajkumar Dhoot said in a press release. Later, the ASSOCHAM put the loss at around Rs 26,000 crore.

But that failed to make any impact on the trade unions. They went ahead with their plan and put the life out of gear for the common people. To make matters worse, violent incidents were reported from various parts of the country. A union leader was killed in Haryana, while many buses, trucks and cars were torched by the protesters in Noida. They did not even spare a fire tender. The hooligans vandalised many factories too. Situation was so bad that CRPF was deployed in Noida.

The Calcutta High Court had recently ruled that people who want to work on these two days, cannot be prevented. Also, it said that those who sustain losses during the bandh, can move the court to seek compensation. The Kerala High Court had passed a similar verdict a few years ago, holding that organisations, which call bandhs have to compensate for the losses that occur during the bandh. The Supreme Court had upheld that verdict.

With the kind of inconvenience, loss and hooliganism coming out of such strikes, should we support or allow such players to hold the nation to ransom? In most cases, the police remained mute spectator, while the common people were left stranded and looking for help to overcome the crisis. It’s high time the courts take cognizance of such agitations and put a “blanket ban” on all kind of shutdowns and bandhs with immediate effect.

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