Trade unions strike hits life across Karnataka


Bangalore : The one-day strike by a dozen central trade unions Tuesday affected life in cities and towns across Karnataka, including this tech hub, with shops, banks, factories, restaurants and cinemas shut and public transport curtailed as taxis and auto-rickshaws kept off roads.

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“We have received overwhelming response to the nationwide strike call from all trade unions with thousands of comrades, including women, abstaining from work and participating in demonstrations, protest rallies and public meetings across the state in support of our demands,” Centre of Indian Trade Unions (Karnataka chapter) secretary S. Prasanna Kumar told IANS.

Though the strike was peaceful, barring stray incidents of stone-throwing on state-run buses at Hasan and Mangalore, people faced hardship due to the closure of shops, malls, banks, post offices and theatres and the absence of taxis and autos.

“About 10 million workers from public and private sector are on strike across the state. Hundreds of employees from industrial areas and private factories have joined our members from all the state-run enterprises in the day-long shut down,” Kumar said.

Of the 11 national trade unions, members of eight unions across the state, including the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and Bharat Mazdoor Sangha (BMS) took out peaceful rallies in Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Hasan, Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum, Gulbarga, Davangere, Koppal and Kolar.

“With bank unions and taxi-autorickshaw associations joining us, the strike demonstrated unity and solidarity in the workforce, which has been reeling under unprecedented price rise, inequality, wage discrimination, exploitation and indifference of the state and central governments to our demands and grievances,” Kumar said.

Though movement of inter-state buses, flights and trains were not affected by the strike, daily rush of passengers was conspicuously absent.

“The government should take measures to bring prices of essential commodities under control immediately, reduce taxes on petroleum products, ban trading on futures commodities, streamline public distribution scheme, reverse the amendment to APMC Act, abolish contract labour, ensure Rs.10,000 per month as minimum wage and Rs.3,000 per month pension to workers,” Kumar reiterated.

While surfeit of automatic teller machines (ATMs) across cities and towns enabled debit and credit card holders to draw cash, closure of state-run, private and scheduled banks paralysed transactions valued at crores of rupees.

“Among the demands of bank unions are that the Banking Regulation Act should not be amended to lower government equity holding in state-run banks, foreign banks should not be allowed to have more share in Indian banks and regulation of insurance business to protect interests of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and general insurance employees,” Kumar added.