Trade union strike cripples transport, banking services in many cities
Millions of workers across India went on a 24-hour strike on Wednesday to protest against changes in labour laws and privatisation of PSUs, affecting life in many cities.
More than 15 crore workers from 10 central trade unions, including those in the banking, manufacturing, construction and coal mining sectors, are taking part in the strike. BJP-backed BMS and NFITU are not part of the agitation.
The strike hit transport and banking operations, mostly in West Bengal and Kerala. Long lines of commuters and schoolchildren could be seen at bus-stops early in the morning, while passengers were stranded at airports as taxis and rickshaws stayed off the streets.
In Kolkata, partial impact was seen on suburban trains while shops, markets and business establishments in most areas remained closed. The state administration was plying a large fleet of public buses while partial impact was seen on operations of private buses and taxis.
In Kerala, public and private bus services, taxis and autorickshaws were off the roads. Only a few private cars and two wheelers were seen on the roads. Shops, hotels and even small tea stalls were closed in the state.
The unions decided to go ahead with strike as their talks with a ministerial panel headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley last month did not make any headway on their 12-point charter of demands.
Trade unions’ 12-point charter of demands includes urgent measures to contain price rise, contain unemployment, strict enforcement of basic labour laws, universal social security cover for all workers and minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month.
They are also demanding enhanced pension for workers, stoppage of disinvestment in PSUs, stoppage of contractorisation, removal of ceiling on bonus and provident fund, compulsory registration of trade unions within 45 days and stopping of FDI in railways and defence.