Essential services such as banking and transport are affected on Friday. Ten central trade unions go on one-day nationwide strike, protesting against “anti-worker” changes in labour laws and the Centre’s “indifference” to their demands for better wages.
“The strike is on. We are getting good response. Vizag steel plant is 100% closed and at some places instances of ‘rail rook abhiyan’ is also going on,” Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) general secretary Tapan Kumar Sen said.
“Around 90% workers at BHEL’s plant in Tiruchirapalli have not reported at work in the morning shift. This will be a successful strike as more than 15 crore workers will come on streets to protest.”
Last year, these 10 trade unions had called nationwide strike and around 15 crore workers participated in the agitation.
“Gurgaon industrial area is completely closed and the police have arrested about 12 people in Manesar area. All this information indicates that the strike will be bigger this time,” Sen said.
The strike also crippled normal life in Left-ruled Kerala. Commercial establishments, schools and government offices remained closed in the state. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s Facebook post supporting the stir triggered a controversy.
Most of the private hotels and hydropower projects, banks and government insurance companies, as well as the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), are also badly hit in several states but Tamil Nadu was largely unaffected.
In Tamil Nadu Public transport is stalled which left the several institutions dysfunctional. However, school buses plied on the roads but branch banking operations were hit.
All major unions, excluding RSS-associated BMS (Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh), have joined the strike call, terming the government’s assurances to look into their demands and the recent announcements for two-year bonus and hike in minimum wage as “completely inadequate”.
Nurses and radiologists have separately announced an indefinite strike for better wages, but have said they will attend to emergency cases. A group of nurses protesting in Delhi were allegedly manhandled by police before being dragged and detained.