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Strike evokes mixed response

Strike was to press the 12-point charter demands by trade unions including increase of minimum wage to Rs 18,000 a month

BS Reporters & Agencies  |  New Delhi/Kolkata 

Members of Trade unions burning an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their nationwide strike against the Centre's policies
Members of Trade unions burning an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their nationwide strike against the Centre's policies

The nation-wide strike called by trade unions on Friday had a partial impact. While normal life was paralysed in Left-ruled states such as Tripura and Kerala, metro cities such as Delhi and Mumbai remained unaffected. In West Bengal, too, public utility services remained shut.

The strike was to press the 12-point charter demands by trade unions including increase of minimum wage to Rs 18,000 a month.testing.. we are here....

The government said sectors such as railways, civil aviation and major ports remained unaffected, while banking and insurance, coal, telecom and defence production were partially affected and transport and steel saw only marginal impact.

Clearing operations at the Reserve Bank of India were hit with trade union leaders claiming cheques totalling Rs 19,000 crore were held up as the staff did not report for duty.

“Clearing services have been impacted. Financial instrument worth Rs 19,000 crore has been held up,” said C H Venkatachalam, general secretary, All-India Bank Employees Association.

State-run mining behemoth Coal India was affected by the strike, with production being down by 40 per cent, mostly in Odisha. Out of 430 operational mines of Coal India, 120 remained closed, with the overall attendance falling short by 10 per cent till 4 pm. “Although our major mines under SECL (South Eastern Coalfields) are working, MCL (Mahanadi Coalfields) has been impacted, which will result in the day’s production falling short by 40 per cent,” a Coal India official said.

Another union, Indian National Mineworkers Federation, claimed 80 per cent of the workers participated in the strike and coal “despatches have been adversely affected”.

“Morchas and rallies were organised in different coalfields in support of the strike and in this strike, outsourced workers also participated as their minimum wages rise of Rs 600 per day has not been agreed upon by the government,” said the union’s secretary-general S Q Zama.

However, coal minister Piyush Goyal said the workmen rejected the strike call thanks to “the pro-workers approach of the government and the liberal measures it has taken for their benefit”.

Work was also affected in Vizag Steel Plant, Bharat Heavy Plate and Vessels, Hindustan Shipyard, NTPC’s Simhadri Power Plant and Visakhapatnam Port Trust, as well as private industrial units in Visakhapatnam, as many of the workers joined the strike. The steel ministry said the strike did not affect the operations of SAIL.

The strike by central trade unions is estimated to have caused a loss of Rs 16,000-18,000 crore to the country’s economy, industry body Assocham said. “Trade, transport and hotels form a major part of the country’s GDP. The other major component to the GDP and gross value added is the entire package of financial services including banking. Both these key segments have been crippled by the strike,” said D S Rawat, secretary-general, Assocham. AITUC said full strike was observed in big factories like Ashok Leyland, Royal Enfield, Eveready, MRF, foundries around Chennai.

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First Published: Sat, September 03 2016. 00:40 IST
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