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Images: Bandh hits industry, airlines, commerce

Last updated on: September 7, 2010 15:14 IST

Images: Bandh hits industry, airlines, commerce

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Workers affiliated to central trade unions on Tuesday went on a day-long industrial strike across the country to protest against price rise, alleged violation of labour laws and disinvestment in PSUs disrupting normal life in Left-ruled West Bengal and Kerala.

Elsewhere, life remained unaffected by the strike which comes two months after a nation-wide bandh called by BJP and Left parties against the UPA Government's economic policies and the spiralling prices.

Workers from sectors including coal, power, telecom, banks, insurance, defence, port and dock, road transport, petroleum and construction are participating in the countrywide strike under the banner of AITUC, CITU, HMS, AIUTUC, TUCC, AICCTU, UTUC and Congress-affiliated INTUC.

Bank employees, mainly belonging to public sector, cooperative and rural banks, joined the strike opposing FDI in the banking sector and grant of licences to private banks.

The strike disrupted flight operations and road transport and business and industries in West Bengal and Kerala.

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Image: Rickshaws keep off the roads in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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The call for the strike was given by Coordination Committee of the Central Trade Unions of which INTUC president G Sanjeeva Reddy is the convener.

"Strike has begun all over the country. Those employed in private sector are also participating the strike in many places," AITUC general secretary and CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta said.

Normal life was hit in West Bengal and Kerala with air and road transport remaining disrupted in the wake of the strike call which took the shape of a bandh in the two Left-ruled states.

Flight operations to and from Kolkata were crippled as private airlines including Kingfisher, Indigo, Jet Airways and Spicejet together cancelled nearly 80 flights.

However, Air India sources in Kolkata said their flight operations remained normal with the airline operating eight flights in the morning after the strike began.

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Photographs: Reuters
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In Kerala, the strike was total in transport sector with buses, trucks and taxis keeping off the roads.

However, the protest did not affect public utilities like power and water supply. Trains were also running without any disruption.

In Tamil Nadu, the day-long strike evoked lukewarm response as normal life remained unaffected. But, flight services on the Chennai-Kolkata route were hit as six flights were cancelled.

In a five-point charter, trade unions have also demanded that disinvestment in public sectors be stopped and substantial investment for social security in the unorganised sector be made.

The unions also wanted the government to take steps to stop violation of labour laws, job losses and contractualisation of service in the country among other issues.

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Image: Employees of Airport Authority of India on strike.
Photographs: Reuters
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"Trade unions cannot be marginalised. They must be heard. We want social justice, reasonable share of the wealth that workers produce. That's all," Dasgupta said.

Officials at Delhi airport today said there was no impact of the strike on any of its operations.

Among the airlines, national carrier Air India's flights to Kolkata were as per schedule but Kingfisher airlines and Jet airways did not operate any aircraft to the left-ruled state.

As many as 29 Kingfisher flights, that includes to and from Kolkata, and 70 belonging to Jet and Jetlite did not operate, officials of the airliners said.

Banks on strike

Around 10 lakh (1 million) employees of 27 public sector banks, 18 foreign banks, 26 private banks, 82 regional rural banks and 1,721 co-operative banks will participate in Tuesday's strike.

Besides protesting against price rise, divestment in public sector banks, job losses, rampant violation of labour laws and lack of adequate protection to workers in the unorganised sector, bank employees are also demanding an increase in the number of public sector bank branches, through expansion from the present 40,000 to 100,000.

Banking operations are not likely to be totally affected, as officers from the State Bank of India as also other banks, are not joining the strike.

"Bank officers will not join the general strike call given by central trade unions tomorrow," All India State Bank Officers' Federation and All India Bank Officers' Confederation general secretary G D Nadaf said in a statement in Mumbai.

The officers federation would, however, extend "fraternal support" to the striking workers, he said.

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Kolkata seems to have been worst hit by the strike though train and Metro services are unaffected, Centre of Indian Trade Unions general secretary Kali Ghosh said.

Shops and business establishments in Muslim-dominated areas would not be forced to remain closed in view of Eid, he added.

Flight operations to and from Kolkata were crippled as private airlines, including Kingfisher, Indigo, Jet Airways, Spicejet together cancelled many flights.

Kingfisher has cancelled 29 flights, including one international, while Jet Airways and its low cost arm JetLite have cancelled a total of 70 flights to and from Kolkata.

Kingfisher has cancelled their Dhaka flight while Jet their flight to Bangkok.

Jet has advanced their Kolkata-Dhaka flight (9W-274) which would depart Kolkata at 5.30 am, while the Dhaka-Kolkata flight (9W-273) would remain postponed and will operate on Wednesday.

The flight would take-off from Dhaka at 0530 hrs and arrive in Kolkata at 0545 hrs (local time).

Apart from it, Jet has rescheduled their Delhi-Bagdogra-Guwahati-Delhi flight (9W-2285) which would depart Delhi at 11:15 am and arrive Guwahati at 01:45 pm.

Kingfisher has also rescheduled two of its flights, one from Bengaluru and other to Hyderabad.

Passengers were stranded at the airport as they faced difficulty in getting vehicles, sources said.

Air India sources told PTI that flight operations by Air India remained normal with the airline operating eight flights in the morning after the strike began.

These flights include an international flight to Singapore and domestic flight to Mumbai, Port Blair, New Delhi, Silchar and Aizawl.

AI cancelled their flight to Kathmandu, sources said.

Passengers of two flights each to New Delhi, Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Bagdogra and Dimapur will be carried together later in the day.

The countrywide strike on Tuesday took the shape of a Bangla Bandh here with the ruling Left Front extending support to the call.

Shops, bazzars, other commercial establishments and educational institutions the city and the suburbs were mostly closed.

State and private buses were off the roads. Roads wore a deserted look.

Train and Metro rail services remained normal as they have been kept outside the purview of the strike. Train services were normal, but people faced trouble because of non-availability of buses.

Inspector general, law and order, Surajit Purakayastha, said the strike was so far peaceful with no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the state.

The state Indian National Trade Union Congress, however, distanced from the strike.

"There is no question of supporting CITU's general strike. We are concerned about the interests of the industrial workers and their job security.

So we will observe a strike in the industrial units only," INTUC president Pradip Bhattacharya said.

On the frequent strike calls by CITU in the state, Ghosh said, "People face problem 364 days a year. What is the big deal with just another day. This bandh is also for a good cause."

Trinamool Congress is opposing the strike. Party chief Mamata Banerjee has said a day's shutdown has a crippling effect on the economy.

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Image: Children walking to school.
Photographs: Courtesy, Partners in Hope.
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Lukewarm response in TN

The day-long strike called by various trade unions against price rise, violation of labour laws and disinvestment of public sector evoked lukewarm response in Tamil Nadu as normal life remained unaffected.

However, flight services on the Chennai-Kolkata route were affected as six flights were cancelled due to the strike in the Left-ruled state, airport sources said. Buses and autorickshaws plied on the roads while shops and other commercial establishments remained open.

No untoward incident has been reported from Chennai and elsewhere in the state so far, police said.

Train services operated as per schedule, Railway sources said.

AIBEA president CH Venkatachalam told PTI that apart from banks, postal employees, a section of state government employees and other PSUs were participating in todays strike.

State government had warned of strict action against persons disturbing law and order and preventing others from going to work.

For the first time, all trade unions, including INTUC were participating in the strike, he added.

Meanwhile, Chennai Port Trust officials said that a section of employees owing allegiance to some unions were participating in the strike.

"But there may not be much impact on operations," they said.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Emergency services to be kept out?

Even though emergency services like hospitals, and essential commodities like milk, etc have been kept out of the perview of the strike, every time patients face near-death situation when over enthusiastic strikers refuse to let ambulances pass.

Private transport came to a standstill in many cities with most auto rickshaws and taxis keeping off the roads. This has further added to the people's woes.

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Image: Taxis are off the roads in Mumbai.

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Strike hits transport services in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh

Public transport services were hit while banking services were partially affected in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh in the wake of the nationwide strike call given by major trade unions to protest price rise and labour laws among other issues.

Despite issuing strict warning to enforce 'No Work No Pay' by authorities against the strike, many employees affiliated to trade unions like Centre of Indian Trade Unions and All India Trade Union Congress, abstained from their duties.

Bus services were also affected with only 40 per cent of total fleet of buses plied on the road in Punjab. Though Haryana transport department claimed the bus services were normal, Haryana roadways Workers Union said that 90 per cent of buses remained off road due to strike.

The strike also cast its shadow on banking service with employees in several public sector banks remaining on strike.

The strike received a lukewarm response in Punjab industry as workers reported to their duties.

Members of several trade unions also held protest rallies at several places in Punjab in support of the one-day nationwide bandh.

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Image: Writers' Building in Kolkata wears a deserted look.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Patna: Strike paralyses work at banks, post offices

Functioning of commercial banks and several public services across Bihar were affected because of the country-wide strike called by trade unions to protest price rise, alleged violation of labour laws and disinvestment in public sector units.

B Prasad, Bank Employees' Federation (Bihar) general secretary, claimed the strike was total in Bihar.

Most banks, except State Bank of India branches, wore a deserted look as the employees held demonstrations and staged procession across the state, he claimed.

"Clearing operations was halted due to the strike, which also received support from some private banks in Bihar," he said, adding the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development office too was closed.

Officials said functioning of offices of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and Department of Posts and Telegraph was partially affected.

The strike, however, failed to have an impact on operation of flights at Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport in Patna, airport sources said.

All the state government offices remained opened and train services were normal, officials said.



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