Two-day Bharat bandh starts today: Here's your guide to what's open and what's not


A joint forum of central trade unions has given a call for a nationwide strike on 28 and 29 March to protest against government policies affecting workers, farmers, and people.

Some of the essential services related to banking, transportation, railways and electricity are likely to be impacted during the two-day nationwide strike. Here's everything you need to know about the two-day strike:


The strike notices have been given by workers' unions in the sectors such as coal, steel, oil, telecom, postal, income tax, copper, banks and insurance, among others. Unions in railways and defence sector have planned mass mobilisation in support of the strike at several places. Unions, including INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC are part of the joint forum.

Workers of roadways, transport and electricity departments have decided to join the strike in spite of the impending threat of ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act) which is likely to be imposed in Haryana and Chandigarh, the joint forum had said in a statement.

The All India Unorganised Workers and Employees Congress has extended support to the nationwide strike. "Our leader Rahul Gandhi has been voicing concern in favour of their demands. The Unorganised and Employees Congress unequivocally not only lends support in writings but will participate in the strike wherever it is possible," said Dr Udit Raj, the national chairman of the All India Unorganised and Employees Congress, according to NDTV.

Talking to PTI, AITUC general secretary Amarjeet Kaur said, "We are expecting participation of over 20 crore formal and informal workers with mass mobilisation of workers across the country during the strike on 28 and 29 March to protest against government policies."

She said that the strike is expected to hit the rural parts also, where informal workers of farming and other sectors will join the protest.

What are their demands

The unions' demands include scrapping of the proposed changes in labour laws, privatisation of any form and the national monetisation pipeline. Increased allocation of wages under MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and regularisation of contract workers are also part of their demands.

Meanwhile, All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) general secretary C H Venkatachalam said the union demands the government to stop privatisation of public sector banks and strengthen them. Bank employees also demand speedy recovery of bad loans, higher deposit rates by banks, lower service charges on customers as well as restoration of old pension scheme for staff.

What services are likely to be hit


Ahead of the two-day nationwide strike, the power ministry on Sunday advised all the state-run utilities and other agencies to be on high alert and ensure round-the-clock electricity supply and stability of the national grid.

According to an advisory by the power ministry issued to all states, CPSUs (Central Public Sector Undertakings), central electricity authority, national load dispatch centre and regional load dispatch centres, all the power utilities shall take necessary measures to ensure round-the-clock functioning of the electricity grid and availability of all plants, transmission lines and substations, the ministry said, adding that all regional/state control room executives should be vigilant and on high alert.

The ministry also suggested measures to be taken to ensure secure and reliable grid operations. Manpower may be deployed at all critical sub-stations/power station 24X7 to handles any emergency situation, it said.

Power supply to those engaged in essential services such as hospitals, defence, and railways must be ensured, it added and suggested setting up of a 24x7 control room for information dissemination and handling any kind of contingency.


A number of public sector banks, including country's largest lender SBI, have said that their services may get impacted to a limited extent due to the strike.

SBI said it has made necessary arrangements to ensure normal functioning in its branches and offices during the strike.

"It is likely that work at our bank may be impacted, to a limited extent, by the strike," SBI said.

New Delhi-headquartered Punjab National Bank (PNB) said, AIBEA, Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) and All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA) have served notices to go on strike on 28-29 March.

"While bank has made all arrangements to ensure normal functioning in its branches and offices, it is likely that work in our bank may be impacted to a limited extent by the strike," PNB said.

Bengaluru-based Canara Bank said it is taking all necessary steps to ensure smooth functioning of bank branches and offices. However, the functioning of the bank may be impacted, Canara Bank added.

Private lender RBL Bank said its bank unions are affiliated to AIBOA and AIBEA, and the employees associated with these unions may participate in the strike.

"The bank will take all necessary steps for smooth functioning of the bank's branches/offices on the days of strike. However, it is likely that some of our branches would also be impacted by the strike," RBL said.

Those not in support

The West Bengal government on Saturday asked all its employees to report for duty during the 48-hour nationwide strike on March 28 and 29, failing which they will be issued show-cause notices.

The TMC dispensation, which has been opposed to bandhs as its official policy, said that no casual leave will be granted to employees except in emergency situations such as illness or death in the family.

In a notification issued from state secretariat Nabanna, Principal Secretary Manoj Pant said that any employee remaining absent for two days or either of the days without permission shall be asked for an explanation.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh has announced that it will not participate in the strike. The Sangh said that the upcoming strike was 'politically motivated' and aimed at the survival of selected political parties.

The Kerala High Court on Friday barred five trade unions at the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Kochi, from participating in the nationwide strike.

With input from agencies

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Two-day Bharat bandh starts today: Here's your guide to what's open and what's not
Two-day Bharat bandh starts today: Here's your guide to what's open and what's not
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