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India Engulfed in Red Banners as Workers Strike Back

IN PICTURES: Tens of millions of workers shut down the country in what is believed to be the largest labor action the world has seen.

The working class of India struck back hard on Friday in a nationally coordinated labor action led by the Center of Indian Trade Unions. The historic work stoppage is by far the largest strike the country—and possibly the world—has ever seen, and reflects a high degree of class-conscious militancy on the subcontinent.

The workers' demands include monetary controls to prevent inflation, universal social security coverage, a rise in the minimum wage, an end to pro-employer labor law amendments, an assured pension for the entire working population, and a ban on foreign ownership of the country's strategic sectors, such as defense, insurance and railways. India's broad and diverse communist movement took the lead in preparing the ground for the nationwide action.

The receptiveness of the people to the strike call reflects the burning rage and resentment of India's highly exploited workforce. Indian workers have faced various attacks under the right-wing neoliberal coalition government led by Narendra Modi of the sectarian Hindu-supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, including a recent overhaul that grants employers greater "flexibility" to hire and fire workers.

Organized and unorganized workers, family members, and youth from various sectors of the Indian economy—including mining, agriculture, electricity, public and private sectors, education, telecom, blue and white collar workers, among others—showed an unparalleled degree of unity across the nation from West Bengal to Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi, Mumbai, Assam, Kerala, Haryana, Punjab and beyond. Cities and public roads were completely shut down by workers who took the initiative in deploying the "bandh" tactic—calling in sick to work, picketing businesses or closing shops in solidarity with the strike, and physically blocking roads—despite the unions not calling for the bandh this year.

teleSUR takes a look at the unprecedented show of strength and unity represented by the historic all-India labor action of Sept. 2.

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Workers from various trade unions shout slogans during a protest rally, as part of a nationwide strike, in Ahmedabad, India September 2, 2016.
Workers from various trade unions shout slogans during a protest rally, as part of a nationwide strike, in Ahmedabad, India September 2, 2016. Photo:Reuters
Women react from inside a police vehicle after their detention during a protest rally, as part of a nationwide strike, in Ahmedabad, India September 2, 2016.
Women react from inside a police vehicle after their detention during a protest rally, as part of a nationwide strike, in Ahmedabad, India September 2, 2016. Photo:Reuters
Workers from various trade unions shout slogans during an anti-government protest rally, organised as part of a nationwide strike, in Mumbai, India September 2, 2016.
Workers from various trade unions shout slogans during an anti-government protest rally, organised as part of a nationwide strike, in Mumbai, India September 2, 2016. Photo:Reuters
Central and local unions across the country kicked off the mass demonstration 6 a.m. on Friday local time.
Central and local unions across the country kicked off the mass demonstration 6 a.m. on Friday local time. Photo:Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Many were arrested, yet this failed to discourage the workers.
Many were arrested, yet this failed to discourage the workers. Photo:Communist Party of India (Marxist)
The government tried to discourage the strike by offering a few concessions, including paying public employee bonuses and increasing the minimum wage for unskilled workers, but the All-India Trade Union Congress and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions refused to concede.
The government tried to discourage the strike by offering a few concessions, including paying public employee bonuses and increasing the minimum wage for unskilled workers, but the All-India Trade Union Congress and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions refused to concede. Photo:Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Nurses shout anti-government slogans during a protest, as part of a nationwide strike, in Chandigarh, India September 2, 2016.
Nurses shout anti-government slogans during a protest, as part of a nationwide strike, in Chandigarh, India September 2, 2016. Photo:Reuters
Workers rally in Tamil Nadu
Workers rally in Tamil Nadu Photo:Communist Party of India (Marxist)
"#WorkersStrikeBack Total strike in Tripura! #BharatBandh"
"#WorkersStrikeBack Total strike in Tripura! #BharatBandh" Photo:Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Workers rally in Nashik, in the northwest region of Maharashtra in India
Workers rally in Nashik, in the northwest region of Maharashtra in India Photo:Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Joint march of Trade Unions in Ranchi, Jharkhand to observe All India Strike.
Joint march of Trade Unions in Ranchi, Jharkhand to observe All India Strike. Photo:Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Joint march of Trade Unions in Ranchi, Jharkhand to observe All India Strike.
Joint march of Trade Unions in Ranchi, Jharkhand to observe All India Strike. Photo:Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Rail workers at Berhampur, Odissa.
Rail workers at Berhampur, Odissa. Photo:Communist Party of India (Marxist)
A joint march in New Delhi to observe All India Strike.  #BharatBandh
A joint march in New Delhi to observe All India Strike. #BharatBandh Photo:Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Workers from different trade unions ride motorcycles during a protest rally, as part of a nationwide strike, in Bengaluru, India September 2, 2016.
Workers from different trade unions ride motorcycles during a protest rally, as part of a nationwide strike, in Bengaluru, India September 2, 2016. Photo:Reuters
Members of bank employees union shout slogans during an anti-government protest rally, organised as part of a nationwide strike, in Mumbai, India September 2, 2016.
Members of bank employees union shout slogans during an anti-government protest rally, organised as part of a nationwide strike, in Mumbai, India September 2, 2016. Photo:Reuters
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