Sunday, September 19, 2021

Observe 53rd Anniversary of Historic One Day Token Strike of 19th September 1968

19th September 2021 is the 53rd anniversary of the historic one day token strike of the central government employees organised on 19th September 1968. The day is being observed throughout the country by the CG employees.

The major demands of the strike were grant of minimum wage, DA according to the cost of living index and merger of DA with pay. All these issues were taken by the unions in the newly formed National Council of Joint Consultative Machinery (JCM), but not only they were denied, but also arbitration was refused despite provision for the same in JCM constitution. No fruitful discussion took place even after serving of strike notice.  There was no other go before the unions, but to resort to strike. Government promulgated Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) according to which strikers were liable to be punished with 6 months imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 500. Those who instigated strike were to be punished with one year imprisonment and a fine of Rs.1000. 

Lakhs and lakhs of workers went on strike on the day crippling the entire central services, despite ordinance and other black laws. P & T, Railways, Defence, Audit & Accounts, Income tax and other services were severely affected by the strike. It was almost standstill in many essential services.

Tens of Thousands of workers were arrested, jailed and punished. Lakhs of employees were suspended, terminated and charge sheeted.  Seventeen employees were either shot dead or beaten to death and became martyrs for the cause of the workers. Such repressive measures were seldom seen earlier. Recognition of the unions was withdrawn.


It was only the Communist government in Kerala with Com.E.M.S.Namboodiripad as Chief Minister, which declared that the state government will not implement the ESMA against the striking workers. There was rumour that the state government may be dismissed, but nothing happened.

The repression and victimisation were condemned by the central trade unions, except INTUC. Heated discussion took place in the Parliament with the Communist and other Left M.P.s strongly raising their voice for vacation of victimisation and acceptance of the demands of the workers.   International trade unions declared their solidarity and support to the strike and condemned the victimisation.

The next three years was a period of incessant struggles against victimisation. By about 1971 almost all workers were reinstated. But severe punishments were imposed.  Recognition of the unions was restored. 

53 years are over after the One Day Token strike of 1968. Those who were participants in the strike are all retired. Some have left us forever. But we remember their courage, unity and steadfastness in going in to the struggle against all odds and refusing to surrender to the repressive measures of the government. 

Though it took many more years, the right of DA increase as per increase in cost of living index is established. Some other demands are also achieved, but not the need based minimum wage. 

During the Covid pandemic period, Modi government  has frozen increased DA and DR  for workers and pensioners for long 18 months since January 2020. From July 2021 it is restored, but the arrears continue as frozen. Trade union rights are being curtailed. Hard won labour achievements are being taken way. Pension Revision for BSNL pensioners has not been given. Medical allowances and reimbursement are still to be settled. 

Sustained struggles are being waged by Kisans against the anti-kisan laws passed by the government. Central trade unions are on continuous struggles. It is under such circumstances that we are observing the fifty third anniversary of the historic strike of 19th September 1968.

On this day, we salute the martyrs of the 1968 strike and pledge to continue the struggles for the cause of the workers.  

Red Salute to the Martyrs of 1968 Strike !

Unity for Struggle, Struggle for Unity!

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