Indian state government arrests at least 14 union leaders
29 October 2018
The state government of the northern Indian state of Haryana, ruled by the Hindu-extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has arrested at least 14 union leaders after more than 200,000 public workers carried out a job action last Friday in solidarity with striking public transport workers at the state-owned Haryana Roadways.
Police, citing the government-declared Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), also conducted Friday night raids at residences of other union leaders. Police have also declared that they are on the lookout for other union “activists.”
The ESMA declaration bans strikes in what the government defines as “essential-services” and is the favoured political weapon of state-governments to repress struggles by public-sector workers.
Haryana Roadways workers have been waging a months-long struggle against repeated attempts by the BJP state government to privatize public transport. Their latest strike started on October 16 against the government’s attempt to bring in over 700 buses from a private contractor whose drivers and conductors will be paid far less and will work far more hours than public transport workers.
According to the monthly salary table published by the Haryana government, a bus driver’s or conductor’s pay scale ranges from Rs. 5,200–20,200 (USD $75–270) plus a small bonus.
So widespread is the anger against the pro-business state government that it took hardly any prompting for other public workers to come out in solidarity with the transport workers and shout slogans against the hated BJP government.
All workers understand that the government’s attempt to privatize public transport is the first step towards privatizing other government…