New Delhi: The two-day nationwide strike launched by Central Trade Unions to protest against the government’s alleged anti-worker policies and unilateral labour reforms entered the second day on Wednesday, impacting normal life in many parts of the country. Sporadic incidents of violence in West Bengal and Kerala and rail blockades in certain states were witnessed on the second day of Bharat Bandh, which also saw a partial disruption of banking and insurance services across the country.
Other sectors like mining, road transport, power supply too bore the brunt of strike call given by country’s 10 major central trade unions. The shutdown led to public bus services going off the road in Mumbai, while banking operations were partially affected with two leading bank unions joining the strike.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today accused the Left-affiliated trade unions of manufacturing a protest on non-existent issues, saying the NDA government has taken a host of decisions for the welfare of workers.
“If the Left trade unions insist on politicising the trade union movement to manufacture a protest on non-existent issues, it is for the workmen in the country to seriously analyse what the present government has done for them and compare it with the relatively blank record of several earlier governments,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post titled ‘The Present Government and the Workers’.
Listing out the steps taken by the NDA regime for the welfare of workers, Jaitley said no government in the past has taken, within a short period, so many continuous pro-worker decisions in order to ensure that the advantage of a better quality of life is ensured to them as a result of the economic development of the country. “Even though procedural simplifications have been done in several legislations in order to cut down the paperwork, the government has desisted from taking any decision which hurts the interest of the employees,” he said.
Kerala And Other Southern States
Parts of Kerala continued to be in disarray with trains blocked and an SBI branch vandalised while in Karnataka an effigy of the Prime Minister was burnt but rest of the south was largely peaceful on the second day of the two-day nationwide stir.
A branch official of the SBI branch said a group of people came to the manager’s cabin around 10 AM and threatened him and his staff, damaged a glass-top table and a computer monitor.
State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) had arranged bus services from various destinations to Pamba.
At Kochi, port trust authorities arranged vehicles and other facilities for tourists who arrived at the port city on a cruise liner, they said.
At Thiruvananthapuram railway station, the Thiruvananthapuram-Hyderabad Sabari Express and Venad Express were blocked.
In Tamil Nadu, trains were stopped by protesters at a few places while banking services in some public sector banks interrupted in Telangana but life largely remained unaffected.
In Chennai, protests were held at Mount Road and Perambur and Guindy railway stations.
Some school children were injured in stone pelting as sporadic incidents of violence were reported from parts of Bengal on Wednesday.
The general strike in Bengal had also put up a picture of CPI(M) and Congress joining hands to ensure that the general strike takes place in Bengal.
And on the other hand, the TMC, which has been one of the most vocal critic of BJP, went all out to ensure that the strike fails in the state.
Some school students were injured and were left traumatised in Rajabazar area of Kolkata after stones were hurled at pool car ferrying students to school. The police have arrested some people for being allegedly involved in the incident, a police officer said.
Train services were hit on the second day of the strike as trade union activists staged ‘rail roko’ at several places including Bhubaneswar, Balasore and Berhampur. Several trains were delayed due to blockade of railway tracks by strike supporters, leaving a large number of passengers stranded at many places, officials said.
While the intensity of the strike declined on Wednesday, shops, markets and business establishments remained closed in several areas, they said, adding, vehicular movement was also hit. Vehicles, including government and private buses refrained from plying and a large number of passengers were seen stranded in bus stands in many places.
Lakhs of commuters in Mumbai continued to face hardships on Wednesday as an indefinite strike called by the BEST, the city’s civic transport undertaking, entered its second day.
Despite the Shiv Sena-affiliated union withdrawing from the protest, only five buses of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST), were plying on roads this morning, a BEST official said.
The state government quickly moved to invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against the striking BEST employees, while its management asked them to end the stir and come to the negotiating table.