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Two-day nationwide strike: One killed in Ambala, banking sector worst-hit
The first day of the two-day nationwide strike, called by the eleven central trade unions, against rising inflation and government's anti-labour policies, showed mixed impact throughout the country. The banking sector seems to be the worst hit as around 90,000 branches of various PSU banks remained closed.

Apart from banking, the sectors like transportation, postal, income tax etc. remained affected due to the strike. In Haryana's Ambala city a union leader died after a bus he was trying to stop crushed him. In Uttar Pradesh's industrial town Noida striking employees turned violent when they saw some factories working. Violent demonstrators burnt down some private as well government vehicles.

Barring the violence in Noida, the union leaders, however, claimed that the strike remained peaceful in rest of the country. The union government which is continuously appealing to the trade unions to call off their strike even before it started, today once again appealed to the leaders to return to their work places. However, the striking unions seem to be in no mood to reconsider their decision.

All India Banking Employees Association's General Secretary CH Venkatachalam has made it clear that banking sector will remain on strike on the second day as well. “There is no question of reconsidering our decision. The banking sector employees will remain on strike on the second day also,” CH Venkatachalam told this citizen journalist .

Venkatachalam also termed the strike as entirely successful from both the banking and non banking sectors' point of view. “This strike is mother of all strikes that happened so far. Such a big, united and numerically strong strike has not taken place in the past. In banking sector also for the first time Reserve Bank, PSU banks regional banks, and cooperative banks remained closed,” added Venkatachalam.

He said that bank employees have joined the strike call in support of three key demands, which include stopping the process of banking reforms. “We are opposed to banking reforms. In the name of banking reforms they (government) want to dilute the government equity in the banks. They want to encourage private capital in banks. They want to allow more banks by the corporate and business people,” claimed Venkatachalam.

In national capital Delhi, the strike proved to be painful for hundreds of commuters as five auto rickshaw and taxi unions have supported the strike call. Auto rickshaws largely remained off the roads and those few who were operating fleeced the commuters.

The Delhi Transport Corporation has canceled leaves of its employees to cope with the strike. However, as per the media reports, some employees remained away from their duties. Delhi government has also roped in around 1,000 RTV (rural transport vehicles) and tourist buses to ply on DTC routes for the next two days.

The effect of the strike was very minimal in the eastern state of West Bengal as Trinamool Congress government has warned employees against the strike. The government has also asked the shop owners to keep their shops open. As a result, shops and markets were mostly open in Kolkata. Except blockades at Hasnabad and Diamond sections of the Eastern Railway, train services remained normal in Howrah and Sealdah divisions.

In Left-ruled state Tripura normal life was severely hit due to the strike. Banks, schools, colleges, shops and markets remained completely closed. The strike has been called jointly by eleven central trade unions namely BMS, Indian Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) and other such central organizations.

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Vibhav Kant Upadhyay
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