Bharat Bandh cripples normal life in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The nationwide dawn-to-dusk bandh clamped by central trade unions crippled the normal life in many parts across the State today with both Government and private sectors workers joining the strike pressing for a 12-point charter of demands.

Members of various trade unions in the State took to the streets protesting the Government’s “indifference” towards their demands and effecting “anti-worker” changes in labour laws.

The transport service came to a grinding halt as buses, trucks, auto-rickshaw remained off the roads with the agitators staging road blockade at various places across the State. Rail passengers bore the brunt of the strike as the agitators staged Rail Roko at Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Balasore and Jaleswar railway stations. Many express, passenger and freight trains, including the Keonjhar-Bhubaneswar Fast Passenger and the Rourkela-Puri Passenger were stranded at various stations. Besides, functioning of all courts, including the High Court in Cuttack was affected as lawyers could not join duty due to the bandh. The decision was taken by the High Court Bar Association yesterday.

Besides, shops and other business establishments and some educational institutions remained closed during the bandh. Various industrial bodies, including the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) recorded dismal attendance due to the strike. As many as eight trade unions of the aluminium major Nalco have joined the 12-hour strike. A meeting in this regard was held in Angul and Rourkela by members of the unions yesterday. However, the All India Bank Officers Confederation has decided to pull out of the strike.

As many as 10 central trade unions, including INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF have joined the one-day strike protesting the Government’s apathy to their demands. The demands include minimum monthly wage of Rs 18,000 to workers, an end to privatisation of PSUs, immediate action to control the price rise, recognition to ASHA and Anganwadi workers and social security to workers of unorganized sectors.

The unions have claimed that this year’s strike will be bigger as the number of striking workers is expected to swell to as much as 18 crore, larger than last year when around 14 crore workers participated.