Strike was to protest against food safety rules, FDI in retail
Traders, hoteliers and restaurant owners closed shop on Wednesday to protest against the Union government’s decision to allow FDI in retail business and against some of the provisions in the new food safety regime under Food Safety and Standards Rules.
Members of Kerala Hotel and Restaurants’ Association and of Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti organised a march from the Marine Drive to Rajendra Maidan and held a meeting to voice their concerns at the new government decisions.
P. A. M. Ibrahim, the district president of KVVES called the strike on Wednesday a total success. District secretary of KHRA Azeez said that all restaurants remained closed in the district in response to the call by the two bodies.
Mr. Ibrahim said that response to the strike call was total as the protest action was on issues that concerned the immediate future of the traders and hoteliers.
He said that KVVES had 45,000 members in the district and was directly supported by around 1.5 lakh traders in various fields.
Mr. Azeez claimed that not even some of the wayside eateries opened for business in response to the strike call. KHRA, he said had more than 5,000 members in Ernakulam district.
Penta Menka and Broadway, the retail hubs in the city; Ernakulam vegetable, grain and egg markets were closed because of the strike.
No eateries were open on MG Road, Broadway and along SA Road. Bakeries and processed food stalls too joined the strike.
The strike, however, caught some visitors to the city as well as some of its residents by surprise.
Ajeesh, a software engineer in Bangalore but who has his home in Kochi was caught unawares by the closure of the restaurants.
Prasad, an office accountant in the city, said he had to rely on one of his friends for having lunch on the strike day.
Pannyan Raveendran, state secretary of the CPI, inaugurated the protest meeting on Rajendra Maidan.
He said that the UPA government’s decision on retail would only help foreign monopolies and adversely affect the more than five crore businesses in India.
S. Sarma, MLA and BJP leader M. T. Ramesh were among those who addressed the gathering.
Jose Mohan, state general secretary of Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association and Mr. Ibrahim were leaders of the trade bodies who spoke at the meeting.