Monday, 15 May 2017

Strike is not just striking people's routine

While the entire State is struck with commutation since the evening of May 14, there are voices that have been raising from the people's end against the indefinite shutting down of transport department. With a lot of regular commuters ruing at the transport officials who have stopped working with a seven charter demand, there are some mild voices that are raised with a third angle version. Here is how these voices claim.

When I was scrolling Facebook news feed today, I just struck with an unusual post by a person (probably youth) who anonymously was quoting himself to be the son of a TNSTC bus conductor. In his post, the boy had came up with a couple of points to ponder before the strike of the transport employees.

He had written (in Tamil) that, 'Being an individual from a transport employee's family, I know the importance of this strike and how would it help us. Despite all this, I am against this 'form' of strike'. The boy justified his point by noting down certain hypothesis.

Firstly, this is the seasons all entrance and competitive exams for students who had just completed schooling. Unfortunately, most of the exam centers are located in the outskirts of cities across the state. Except for Chennai, all other major cities of Tamilnadu, depend only on government buses to travel to their suburbs. 'In this peak time of examination, the transport officials putting their work on hold would really become a high crisis for the students who would take up examination'.

Similarly, the boy had also pointed out that this is also the time of marriage season where a lot would have scheduled their travel by the means of public transport. 'Not only happy occasions, but there could be sudden deaths or any other fatal incidents too, during which relatives could not easily catch a train to attend the rituals. Bus would be the only immediate mean of commutation'.

In this juncture, such kind of an indefinite strike would not get a welcoming reception by the people, the boy had claimed and had concluded his post by denoting that, 'Any form agitation that people hate will fail for sure'.

Apart from this, the youngster had came up with other forms of strike that would affect only the government but not the people. Some of the forms of agitation according to him were, 'Avoid collecting bus fare from commuters, the employees of TNSTC should come and stay along with their families in stationed buses, people should be made aware of the problems faced by the employees so that they too support them and above all the employees should quit political parties affiliated trade unions and start an ideology centered association'.

Following this, I made a short analysis on the perception of the youth after which several inferences were conceived from that. One of the workers from the TNSTC who does not participate in the strike and does not represent either sides of the trade union says, "I have to accept that this strike is the need of the hour. But, even I too do not support this form strike by the employees". He said that, he is on leave and did not go to work to avoid unwanted pressure from the colleagues who participate in the protest. "The employees who represent trade unions and hold protests would press employees like us who do not take a stand. Fearing on this factor alone, I am off from duty", he added.

When I pointed out the other forms of protest suggested by the youth, the neutral-stand employee was taken aback for a moment. Gaining back his senses, the employee surprisingly said, "This really sounds to be an innovative and a constructive form of protest. I think, the employees union might look into this and find such solutions for not putting people into trouble". He also appreciated that, there are youth who really have a concern over both people and the employees of public sector.

However, as said by the TNSTC employee, these kind of protests are innovative but not new. A couple of years back in Japan, when a shoe company workers jointly announced strike, they did not stop working, instead, they worked for more hours. That too in these working hours, they were manufacturing only the left foot shoe (the reason may be they belong to leftist ideology). This ended up a huge loss for the manufacturer as he could not market one foot shoe alone. Finally the manufacturer came down to address the demands of the workers.

Similarly, the form of strike in China is quite different. A few years back in China, a bottling unit of a multinational beverage company witnessed an insane protest. As strike by halting the work is prohibited in China, the workers go the other way. They work for more hours to produce more product than the actual demand. In this beverage company strike, the workers produced exponentially more litres of the drink which ended up the company to run out of bottles to fill in.

In realism, these trade union strikes are ones where the suppressing party is opposed by the party which is being suppressed. So, why every time people turn out to be the victims of a bandh or a strike, struggling to lead their routine. Hope normalcy would turn soon!

- Santhosh Mathevan
Chennai, May 15, 2017.

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