Indian trade unions across a wide range of sectors, including textiles, on Friday (2 September) took part in a nationwide strike against what they claim are the government's anti-worker policies.

According to the IndustriAll Global Union, "hundreds and thousands" of workers across India marched in the streets, expressing disappointment over the government's "failure to respond to union concerns and undemocratic attitude".

It is 12 months since a previous strike set out a 12-point list of demands, and unions are calling upon the government to "come to the negotiation table". Demands include urgent measures to contain price rises, strict enforcement of all labour laws, compulsory registration of unions, and a minimum wage not less than INR18,000 (US$ 27) per month.

"The government has failed to meet with all unions to address their demands, meeting only one national centre, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), which is the trade union wing of the right wing Hindu nationalist Bahartiya Janata Party, the leading party of the ruling coalition," IndustriAll says. 

The global union adds that the government's anti-worker policies include the introduction of fixed-term employment in the apparel manufacturing sector through an executive order, an increase in the permissible limit of overtime work from 50 hours per quarter to 125 hours, and the diversion of workers' social security, also known as the employees provident fund, for investment in the shares market.

"Unions view the ongoing unilateral labour law reforms through both central and state governments as designed to exclude the majority of workers from coverage by basic labour laws," it adds.

India sets out long-overdue clothing sector labour reform