I'm a stranger in a strange land of collective action.
February 27, 2012 5:39 AM Subscribe
I'm an American in Bangalore. Tomorrow, major unions have called for a nationwide bandh (strike). I'm having a major personal crisis about what to do. Listen, I know this isn't my country. And it's not my strike. But I'm very, very, very uneasy about what role I should be playing.
posted by TheNewWazoo to Human Relations (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My company provides a driver to shuttle me from my five-star hotel to our cushy offices about 5 miles away. I've asked my driver whether he intends to participate in the strike called by the auto drivers' union (amongst many others), and he told me that he did not. He then told me that he would simply not wear his (distinctive) uniform and would change the color of his car's plates, and voilà there wouldn't be a problem. He then told me that the last time there was a strike, people threw rocks at his car and broke his windshield.
I care about his safety. I care about my safety! But more than that, I feel like by asking him if he was doing to participate, I'm obliquely encouraging him to scab. I don't want him to scab. I don't particularly want a scab for a driver, either. This is a country where two people were beaten to death by the authorities for trying to build support for this bandh.
But I'm 28 and from the southern USA. Unions are things I've only read about. I believe, deep in my heart, in collective action. I have no idea what to do when strikes are called.
I could walk; it'd be about 40 minutes along major roads and I'm not that worried about safety. I don't think I could rent my own car or a motorcycle/scooter and drive. I could also risk the significant ire of my boss and refuse to be driven to the office tomorrow along with my coworkers. He knows I'm a lefty, but I've never pulled (what feels like) a stunt like this before.
What the hell do I do?