Nationwide strike hits several parts of India

18:24, September 07, 2010      

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A nationwide strike called by trade unions against price rise Tuesday hit several parts of India, with the eastern state of West Bengal and the southern state of Kerala being the worst affected.

Normal life has been crippled in West Bengal as over 100 flights to and from state capital Kolkata getting cancelled by major airline carriers in the country. The metropolis wore a deserted look with virtualy no public transport on the roads. Most schools and colleges were also closed and there was skeleton attendance in state government offices.

The situation was the same in Kerala, with most academic institutions and offices being closed. Road and rail traffic was also affected largely as the streets wore a deserted look, local TV channels reported.

Though the strike failed to make substantial impact in other parts of the country, banking services across India were hit as as most of the nationalized banks joined the strike.

Both West Bengal and Kerala are traditional strongholds of the Communist Party of India -- Marxist and other leftwing parties.

There was, however, no whiff of the strike, in the national capital. But, Mumbai also suffered the brunt of the strike as many autorickshaws stayed away from roads, giving commuters a harrowing time.

Nearly 60 million workers participated in the 24-hour strike across the country, called by nine major trade unions to protest against price rise and other issues like disinvestment of public sector, retrenchment and entry of foreign capital in retail market.

"This is going to be biggest strike that ever happened in recent years in this country as after 63 years all the trade unions have come together on a common platform," Communist Party of India -- Marxist member of parliament Gurudas Dasgupta said.

"The strike will not be the last thing. If the situation does not improve, workers will march to Parliament in February next year. Trade unions cannot be marginalised. They must be heard. We want social justice, reasonable share of the wealth workers produce," he added.

In West Bengal Workers from sectors such as coal, power, telecom, banks, insurance, defence, port and dock, road transport, petroleum and construction are participating in the countrywide strike.

The call for the strike was given by Coordination Committee of the Central Trade Unions of which Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) President G. Sanjeeva Reddy is the convener.

Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TC) party in West Bengal is against the strike. That is the reason why railway and metro services in West Bengal have not been affected.

The strike is not being forced on minority-dominated areas in the state because of Ramzan (fasting month of Muslims).

Source: Xinhua


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