Bharat Bandh: Mamata government asks its employees to report for duty on January 8

New Delhi: Central trade unions have organised a Bharat Bandh on January 8 to protest against the central government policies, but the West Bengal government has directed the state employees to desist from taking part in the strike.

A memorandum issued by Finance (Audit) Department of West Bengal government on Monday said, “In view of call given by different trade unions and others for a 24 hours All India Industrial strike on January 8, it has been decided that all state government offices including those provided grants-in-aid by state government shall remain open and all the employees shall report for duty on that date.”

Notably, the nationwide strike is likely to hit banking sectors, including ATM services, as bank unions have asked their employees to boycott their work. Trade unions reportedly claimed that about 25 crore people would participate in the nationwide strike.

The Bharat Bandh 2020 is being organised to protest against the Central government’s recent banking reforms and policies. The other demands include a hike in the minimum wage to Rs 21,000-Rs 24,000 per month, stop the privatisation of public sector undertakings, and the repeal of the Citizens Amendment Act, National Register for Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).

The Mamata government’s memorandum also directed that no casual leave for absence either in the first half of the day or in the second half or for the whole day nor any other leave shall be granted to any employee on the said date.

Those employees who are on leave January 7, have also been asked to report for duty on the day. “It has also been decided that strike/bandh day, no leave for the day preceding the bandh day i.e January 7 and for the day following the strike/bandh day i.e January 9 shall be allowed,” the memorandum said.

The state government has said that the absence of employees on that day will be treated as `dies-non` and no salary will be admissible unless such absence is covered by reasons such as hospitalisation and bereavement in the family.

The trade unions are also against the proposed merger of 10 PSU banks to create four entities as announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in August 2018.

Earlier in September 2019, the trade unions including INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC along with other sectoral independent federations and associations had adopted a resolution to go on a nationwide strike on January 8, 2020.

The strike is expected to draw huge numbers as about 60 student organisations and elected representatives from some universities will also take part to raise voice against increased fees and commercialization of education, besides raising the issue of JNU violence and similar incidents in university campuses in the country.