Today and tomorrow,over 100,000,000 Indian workers will stage the world’s biggest general strike.Workers will walk out for 24 hours, closing docks, airports, and public banks. Energy, mining and road transport workers will also join the action, set to hit during the parliament’s Budget session.The general strike is supported by all 11 of India’s trade unions. They are striking for the minimum wage to cover the whole population, and for temporary workers to get the same rights as those on permanent contracts. They are also demanding pension cover for all workers, including the private sector, an end to corruption and for limits on price rises.The government has refused to negotiate for more than 2 years, using the courts and police to attack the trade union movement. All the while, India’s rich are growing richer, leaving 400 million in absolute poverty.

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The last few years have seen a dramatic rise in the number off millionaires and billionaires; the 55 richest Indians own 1/6th of all the country’s wealth. This dramatic increase in wealth has been achieved through cutting jobs, pay and pension rights.The strike highlights that workers are realising that the system they live and work under is only benefiting the wealthy and bosses and they are willing to fight back against this.The demands raised by the people are certainly justified, and it is high time to advance the struggle against the anti-worker government measures and corporate attacks. Also, in India the workers have suffered real wage losses to due extremely high increases in food prices. The everyday cost of living has risen by around 30 per cent, with general inflation around 9 per cent.

Precarious work is an extremely important issue in the developing industrial sector – keeping in mind that more than two-thirds of the working class are in the so-called informal sector. Some large-industrial companies have more than twice as many sub-contracted workers as members of the permanent workforce. This problem is increased by a widespread misuse of trainees and apprentices offered mostly two-year contracts, who are paid not much more for than sub-contracted workers. The pretext that they are being trained is quite ridiculous, as these workers often have practical experience, and also have 2-3 years attendance at vocational schools.Pensions are also very in low in India, and only regular workers, employees, and state-officials have access to them.

The two days of general strike, i.e. February 20 and 21, will witness massive rallies, demonstrations, dharnas, padavs, rasta roko and rail roko by striking workers, peasants and agricultural workers.Unions expecting that the 48 hours general strike — an unprecedented action by the Indian working class at the national level — will turn out to be the largest strike action at the international level as well.

Needless to say,Trade-unionists, socialists, and communists all over the world should support the general strike by spreading information and sending solidarity notes. The growing Indian working class needs and deserves more international links and solidarity.