Nation-wide strike evokes mixed response
In West Bengal, there were fewer vehicles on the road but several schools and government offices remained open following the warning given by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that absence from duty will be treated as a break in service.
Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee said in Kolkata that the situation was normal in the districts. Some arrests have been made in certain places including Hasnabad and Madhyamgram for obstructing traffic, he said.
In the country`s commercial capital, Mumbai, the strike had a partial impact with financial institutions getting affected.
Barring banking and insurance sector, which have a large presence of trade unions, normal life was largely unaffected in the metropolis with all essential services especially public transport functioning as usual.
"The shutdown in the banking and financial sector has been complete. The RBI`s clearing houses are shut. So the private and foreign banks where we do not a have a presence, also get affected," General Secretary of All India Bank Employees Association, Vishwas Utagi claimed.
Services at both the city airports was smooth inspite of the strike call by 11 trade unions.
In Delhi, the strike had little impact though normal functioning of PSU banks were affected and a number of autos and taxi drivers kept their vehicles off the roads to take part in the protest.
Commuters complained that the frequency of the state-run buses were low. Several passengers were stranded in the morning at railway stations and bus terminals.
Normal life was hit in Kerala due to the strike with buses keeping off the roads and shops remaining shut.The strike also affected functioning of banks and offices as pro-Left unions in the state sector also joined the protest against the "neo-liberal economic and labour policies" pursued by the UPA Government at the Centre. .
The Congress-led UDF Government in Kerala has enforced `dies non` (no work-no pay) order against the strike in government offices.
Reports from across the state said in most places, the mobility of people was hit as the impact of the strike was near total in the transport sector with buses, taxis and auto rickshaws keeping off the road.
Transport and banking services were hit in Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana in the wake of the strike.
Reports pouring from various places in the region said buses on several routes remained off the road in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh even as officials were persuading employees not to join the strike.
With major bank unions observing the strike, financial transactions came to a halt in all branches of public sector banks in the two states.
However, banking services in private sector banks were not affected Labour leaders have claimed that the strike is going to be a historic event and a stern warning against "anti-labour policies" of the UPA Government.
The key demands of the unions include guarantee of labour rights, end to the contract labour system, bringing workers in the unorganised sector under the social security net and pension benefit for all workers.
Besides the Left unions like CITU and AITUC and HMS, the pro-Congress INTUC and pro-BJP BMS are also supporting the strike.