India’s Nationwide Strike Targets Economic Policies

Posted February 28th, 2012 at 6:40 pm (UTC-5)
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India’s three key economic sectors were crippled Tuesday after 11 trade unions took part in a nationwide strike to protest what they called “anti-labor” policies.

Transport, financial and postal services were disrupted in many parts of the country, as union members stayed at home.

The stoppage is a setback for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Congress party-led government, as union leaders ignored pleas from Mr. Singh and other officials not to go ahead with the strike.

President of the Indian National Trade Union Congress, Sanjeeva Reddy, said Tuesday’s strike is unprecedented to the extent it unified a number of politically opposed groups.

“This time, they all joined together. After independence, this is the first time all trade unions have come together and gone on strike,”

Public sector workers are demanding the government curtail the hiring of contract workers which, they say, deprives permanent workers of a livelihood. They also want the government to stop privatizing state-run companies.

Union leaders said they will wait for the government reaction before they decide on any future action.

India is experiencing the slowest rate of economic growth in years. Efforts to stimulate the economy have been hampered by rampant corruption, including scams in real estate and telecommunications.