10 central trade unions called for strike, minor violence reported in parts of West Bengal
GN Bureau | September 2, 2015
This was one of the biggest labour strike India has witnessed in the recent times. Wednesday’s strike by nearly 15 crore workers from 10 trade unions was peaceful except for few sporadic incidents of minor violence in West Bengal.
Clashes between women protestors and police personnel were reported from different parts of the state, including the capital Kolkata. Many women protestors, who blocked traffic in parts of West Bengal, were dragged by policewomen and put into buses. Protestors were also lathi-charged.
Meanwhile, trade union leaders termed the strike as a major success. “The strike was observed by workers from all fields, be it defence, banking, insurance, transport or coal, across the nation,” said Ashok Singh, national vice president, Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).
The nation-wide strike was against the changes to the labour laws being effected by the NDA government. Essential services like banking, transport and coal, power, aviation and insurance sectors were widely affected by the strike. Transport sector was worst affected in Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Coal production in Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) was reported to be affected. Operations at Mumbai Port Trust were completely stopped while cargo handling at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust was partially hit.
Banking sector, whose employees had recently signed an agreement with the government on wage revision and other benefits, also joined the strike with staff of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), nationalised banks, some private sector banks, cooperative banks and regional rural banks participating with full force.
The strike was earlier called by 11 central trade unions. But, BJP backed Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh backed out in order to give time to the government to deliver on its promises. However, the 10 central trade unions: CITU, INTUC, AITUC, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF. All-India Bank Employees' Association and coal unions went ahead with the strike.
They had a 12-points charter of demands, including the immediate steps to check rising prices, strict enforcement of basic labour laws, Rs 15,000 per month as minimum wages, government employees status to anganwadi and mid-day meal workers, no FDI in railways, defence and other strategic sectors and regular workers’ wages for contractual employees and pension for all workers.
In the national capital, commuters faced problems as a large number of autos and taxis remained off the roads.
Public transport was partially affected in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh as workers’ union joined the one-day nationwide strike. Bank customers faced inconvenience as employees of public sector banks excluding SBI were also on strike today.
Banking, transport and other services were today hit in parts of Rajasthan. Bank services were also affected as most of the branches remained closed while state roadways buses, barring in Banswara and Baran district, also did not ply causing hardship to commuters.
In Kerala, public and private bus services, taxis and autorickshaws were off the roads. Only few private cars and two wheelers were seen on the roads. Shops, hotels and even small tea stalls were closed in the state.
Similarly, normal life was affected in Karnataka. Government transport workers joined the strike objecting to the proposed motor bill as buses and autorickshaws kept off the roads causing inconvenience to office-goers and those travelling to far-off places.
People who have travelled to Bengaluru from other places were seen stranded at the railway station and bus station. Anticipating inconvenience to students, schools and colleges had declared a holiday today in Karnataka.
Train services were disrupted for sometime at several places in Odisha as protesters blocked tracks near railway stations like Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Bhadrak, Chhatrapur and Khalikot.
Around 10 trains were delayed due to the stir leaving many passengers stranded at various places.
Shops, markets, business establishments, educational institutions, banks and insurance and other offices remained closed in most areas during the strike, police said.
Transportation and banking services in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana today came to a standstill during the day-long nationwide strike.
However, the strike did not affect normal life in Tamil Nadu. Shops and commercial establishments were functioning though various trade unions were holding protests at different parts of the state, police said. Government owned and private transport buses continued their services normally. Attendance in government offices and private establishments were also normal, it said. All government and private hospitals also functioned.
Transport services in Mumbai remained unaffected today, as suburban train services, autorickshaws and BEST city buses were operating normally despite the nationwide strike.
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