Organising general strikes for political reasons and turning them into bandhs could ultimately jeopardise trade union rights.
First of all, let us think why political parties turn strikes into bandhs and call for hartals. As has been discussed earlier, it is because of their failure to mobilise support for strikes and agitations among the workers and members of the public. So, they are using intimidation. Intimidation can succeed in the short term, but not on the long term. There would come a time when people would rise against the intimidators.
Workers are not voluntarily joining strikes, as their lot is good in most sectors. In the past, they resorted to strike owning to desperation. This desperation is no more there in case of most of the workers. It is notable that employees in the IT sector are generally opposed to strikes and hartals. Naturally, this has its impact on the trade unions and incomes of their leaders.
Owing to disruption of works caused by repetitive strikes, now there is consensus that IT units and special economic zones should be excluded from strikes and other union activities. This has hampered the trade union rights of people employed in technoparks and special economic zones. Even a Human Rights report of American State Department some years back said that trade union rights were being denied to the workers of Cochin Export Processing zone. That situation continues.
Now with trade unions and political parties blocking even the movement of private citizen’s in the name of general strike, public opinion is likely to change against all kinds of strikes. Already there is a backlash against the trade union movement in Kerala because of the tactics adopted by them in the past including the infamous ‘Nookukooli’. Now, Labour Minister P. K. Gurudasan says that ‘Nookkukooli’ is not a labour issue as no labour was involved. However, the government is not willing to treat it as a law and order issue.
The general strikes are being called when many services are needed on a 24×7 basis. The backlash to their disruption and paralysing of the administration and economy even for a day will be severe.