Day-long strike hits life in WB, Kerala

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. 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, Mr 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.

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.

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