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Workers strike over privatization program

by GANESH LAL | August 17, 2001 | Page 13

NEARLY 10 million workers in India held a one-day strike July 25 against the effects of globalization on workers and the poor. The nationwide strike was the first time that state and central government employees have struck together.

The strike was called to protest privatization, layoffs and antilabor legislation. It followed mass demonstrations a week earlier that were organized in a number of cities to celebrate "anti-privatization day."

Over the last decade, living standards for the vast majority of Indian workers have dropped--while prices have soared after government subsidies on essential goods were slashed. Millions of workers now live in slums and shantytowns, while their bosses drive posh foreign cars.

Worst hit of all are workers in public-sector enterprises, which are being shut down in line with International Monetary Fund (IMF)-sponsored austerity measures. "Globalization has brought disaster to the working class," said Debkumar Ganguli, deputy general secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU).

But "if you want to force these institutions [like the IMF and the World Bank] to retreat, our present strength isn't enough," Ganguli told Socialist Worker. "We need unity within the labor movement--we need a broader coalition, including all the labor organizations as well as the [nongovernmental organizations] and others who are fighting back."

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