Normal life unaffected and strike passes off peacefully in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts

The 48-hour long strike called by the trade unions in protest against the economic and labour policies of the Centre evoked a mixed response. Normal life remained unaffected and the strike passed off peacefully.

The trade unions had called for a strike in protest against the “anti-people, anti-labour and flawed” economic policies of the Congress-led UPA Government.

The trade unions wanted the Government to retain the authority on fixation of fuel prices, fixation of Rs. 10,000 as minimum wages and withdrawal of the new pension scheme.

While the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) and private buses plied as usual, more than 60 per cent of the autorickshaws kept off the road.

Transport Corporation sources reported near normal operation of buses.

While functioning of nationalised banks stood completely paralysed with almost nil attendance, new generation and foreign banks’ operations remained near normal.

The Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) of the nationalised banks dispensed cash till evening.

Officials anticipated the ATMs to go empty either on Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

New generation and private banks carried on with the loading of cash into the ATMs as usual. Shops and commercial establishments remained open since morning.

State Government offices witnessed nearly 85 to 90 per cent attendance, while Central Government offices wore a deserted look.

In the City, trade unions organised a demonstration at Gandhipuram, led by Coimbatore MP P.R. Natarajan, who lashed out at the UPA-led Centre for evolving policies and implementing them “without concern for the poor and working class”.

In Coimbatore City, the security measures included deployment of over 2,000 police personnel. More than 1,200 police personnel were involved in security measures in Coimbatore Rural District.

The nationwide strike affected banking activity in the district on Wednesday.

Banking employees, numbering nearly 4,500 here, participated in the strike. Though ATM operations were not affected on Wednesday, it might be on Thursday, especially in ATMs that have heavy usage, said a bank official.

Trade union sources said the impact of the strike was felt in textiles, engineering, power loom, plantation and hosiery units.

Several workers in these industries participated in the strike. Many of them also participated in a demonstration held here on Wednesday.

Members of the Joint Action Council (JAC) of College Teachers and Non-Teaching Staff of Tamil Nadu – Coimbatore Region staged a demonstration at Gandhipuram on Wednesday as part of the nation-wide two-day strike.

Members of the JAC from 23 colleges of Coimbatore, Erode, Nilgiris and Tirupur region participated in the strike. The demonstrators demanded withdrawal of new contributory pension scheme, withdrawal of retrograde bill relating to higher education and urged for minimum salary of Rs. 25,000 per month for the teachers on contract, guest lecturers and those in self-financing colleges, besides enhancement of the retirement age of teachers to 65 as recommended by UGC.

Our Tirupur Staff Reporter adds:

The general strike called by various trade unions evoked partial response in Tirupur district on Wednesday.

Barring a lone incident of stone pelting at Kangayam, the day was by and large peaceful in the district.

The windscreens of a Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation bus were damaged in the stone throwing that occurred at Kangayam around 3.15 a.m. The bus was coming from Thanjavur to Tirupur.

Sources in the police and revenue administrations said 60 per cent of the shops were closed in Tirupur city and Avinashi town, whereas only less than 40 per cent of the overall number of shops in the district was closed in response to the strike call.

In Tirupur knitwear cluster, almost 60 per cent of the textile units were closed and the statistics compiled by official sources indicated that 90,000 textile workers out of the total 1.5 lakh workforce in the cluster abstained from duty on the day.

Meanwhile, the public transport buses operated uninterruptedly throughout the day. Similarly, the majority of the auto rickshaws carried out services across the district.

In the government-sector, the operations in nationalized banks and public-sector insurance companies were badly hit as the majority of employees did not report for duty.

A total of 70 members of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) were arrested when they staged road blockade agitation at Uthiyur to highlight the demands of the trade unions which include among others fiscal steps for controlling inflation, enforcement of labour laws in letter and spirit and better social security for employees.

Members of various trade unions taking part in the two-day strike staged a demonstration in the city on the day to press their demands.

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