The 24-hour country-wide strike called by major trade unions on Tuesday to protest anti-labour policies of the govt and rising prices evoked a mixed response with the banking and transport sector hit in some parts.
The one-day strike call given by 11 central trade unions today affected the commercial capital with commercial banks reporting lower attendance and loading/unloading operations at both the ports taking a hit.
With bank unions being at the forefront of the strike call, banks witnessed thin attendance though branches of even public sector lenders were open.The operations at Mumbai Port Trust and the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust were hit.
The JNPT, which handles as much as 60 percent of the total container traffic in the country witnessed a 75 percent drop in cargo handling at its berths as also those operated by the private operator DP World, deputy chairman N N Kumar told the news agency.
He said the cargo which will have piled up as a result of the strike will be cleared after 6 pm when strike ends.
The older Mumbai Port also saw trouble in loading and unloading with operations “partially affected”, deputy chairman Shree Kant Singh said.
A few branches of Bank of India and Union Bank of India were forced to down the shutters while State Bank said only some of the clerical staff did not turn up.
Insurance giant LIC said all its offices in the city functioned normally as its development officers in the Western zone had not supported the strike, executive director S Roychowdhury said.
About 1,000 wholesale traders at Navi Mumbai’s vegetable wholesale market which serves the entire metropolis, downed shutters due to the strike, president of Federation of Association of Maharashtra Mohan Gurnani told the news agency.
The impact was “limited” at APMC market as only a few of the workers struck work, he said.To the relief of the metropolis, suburban trains, buses as well as the taxis and autos ran as usual allowing for a smooth transport as they were not included in the strike call.
The trade unions had given the call for strike demanding ban on contract work, amendment to the Minimum Wages Act, assured pension for all and compulsory registration of trade union among others.
The government had last week appealed to the unions, which belong to the ruling Congress, and the Opposition BJP as well as Left parties, to desist from going on strike with labour minister Mallikarjun Kharge promising dialogue with them on all labour-related issues but union leaders rejected the call stating the government had enough opportunity earlier to sit with them.
General strike disrupts banking, transport sector in Delhi
The nation-wide strike against government’s “anti-labour” policies and price rise did not create much ripples in Delhi today but it ended up burning a hole in the pocket of commuters who were fleeced by auto drivers who hit the streets late in the afternoon.
Functioning of PSU banks was affected and a number of autos and taxi drivers kept their vehicles off the roads as the 24-hour strike called by all major unions to protest government’s “anti-labour” policies, price rise and disinvestment of PSUs.
Though DTC officials claimed they have operated extra buses to help passengers, commuters complained that frequency of the state-run buses was low.
They complained that most of the buses which were plying were overcrowded.Many bank customers were left at sea as employees of PSU banks refused to conduct transactions as part of the protest.Employees of RBI in the capital held a protest outside their office and shouted slogans against the policies of the government.
Most of the PSU bank branches in major cities were open, but the attendance remained thin as majority of clerical staff abstained from work.
Auto and taxi union leaders said they were participating in the strike to protest against the government policies towards them.They alleged the government was doing nothing for setting up a welfare board as ordered by the Supreme Court.
“The strike may be for a noble cause but common man had to suffer.
The auto drivers overcharged us. From Barakhamba to Parliament Street which is just two kilometres, an auto driver charged me Rs 60 instead of Rs 19 on metre,” said Anumita Singh, a private bank employee discuss the issues.
In West Bengal, there were fewer vehicles on the road but several schools and government offices remained open following the warning given by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that absence from duty will be treated as a break in service.
Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee said in Kolkata that the situation was normal in the districts.Some arrests have been made in certain places including Hasnabad and Madhyamgram for obstructing traffic, he said.
Normal life was hit in Kerala due to the strike with buses keeping off the roads and shops remaining shut.
The strike also affected functioning of banks and offices as pro-Left unions in the state sector also joined the protest against the “neo-liberal economic and labour policies” pursued by the UPA Government at the Centre.
The Congress-led UDF Government in Kerala has enforced ‘dies non’ (no work-no pay) order against the strike in government offices.
Reports from across the state said in most places, the mobility of people was hit as the impact of the strike was near total in the transport sector with buses, taxis and auto rickshaws keeping off the road.
Transport and banking services were hit in Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana in the wake of the strike.
Reports pouring from various places in the region said buses on several routes remained off the road in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh even as officials were persuading employees not to join the strike.
With major bank unions observing the strike, financial transactions came to a halt in all branches of public sector banks in the two states. However, banking services in private sector banks were not affected.
Labour leaders have claimed that the strike is going to be a historic event and a stern warning against anti-labour policies of the UPA Government.
The key demands of the unions include guarantee of labour rights, end to the contract labour system, bringing workers in the unorganised sector under the social security net and pension benefit for all workers.