Terrorising ‘unionism’

The scale of violence seen in Noida, which is in Uttar Pradesh but is really an extension of the nation’s capital, suggests that the trade union movement in the country has lost sight of the meaning of unionism, which is to advance workers’ interests and not to terrorise fellow citizens. In this instance, the unions owed allegiance to parties across the board, though the latter are now busy disowning the violence without decrying it.
Not a small dose of opportunism was on display in the preparations for the bandh. This included CPI and AITUC leader Gurudas Dasgupta paying a visit to Uddhav Thackeray, leader of the far-right Shiv Sena that was instrumental in wiping out the AITUC in Mumbai, historically its most important base.
It is a pity that the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh utterly failed to anticipate the violence in Noida, naively believing that private sector industry would be exempt from the bandh call, as a senior police official has acknowledged. Ordinary people whose lives suffer dislocations from workers’ actions — which they do not trust to promote their welfare — are unlikely to be impressed with such tactics resorted to by self-serving political interests.
Ironically, the demands of the workers were routine, of a kind that the government itself is trying to meet in its own interests — such as lowering inflation and expanding employment. This hardly called for a nationwide bandh, and over two days. The violence that followed should be decried in the strongest terms.

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