Normal life in the State was paralysed on Tuesday on account of the 24-hour All-India general strike convened by the joint action committee of trade unions.
There was hardly any organised industrial sector which did not feel the impact of the strike, with an atmosphere of a total bandh prevailing throughout the day. Public transport such as taxis, autorickshaws and buses remained off the road. The strike affected functioning of Central and State Government offices, public sector undertakings, banking and insurance sectors. Attendance was poor in State Government offices despite the announcement that dies-non would be implemented. The decision of service organisations owing allegiance to the Congress party to stay away from the general strike did not have any impact.
Shops and establishments remained closed, though private vehicles, mostly two-wheelers, were seen on the roads. According to a statement of the joint action council state unit, the strike affected the plantation, coir, cashew, handloom sectors, not to mention the disruption in postal and telephone services. The participation of employees in the power sector was total, the statement claimed.
The joint action council, comprising the Intuc, CITU, AITUC, BMS and STU, had given the strike call as part of the all-India movement focusing on a 10-point charter of demands. The committee organised district level and panchayat level demonstrations to highlight the demands. This is for the first time that a general strike of this dimension was being held in the State, witnessing the pro-Congress INTUC joining hands with other left trade unions in the struggle against the economic liberalisation policies of the UPA Government. In a joint statement, M M Lawrence (CITU), R Chandrasekharan (INTUC), Kanam Rajendran (AITUC), K K Vijayakumar (BMS) and Ahmedkutty Unnikulam (STU), hailed all workers who had supported the strike. CITU state president K N Ravindranath said that the general strike was significant because of the unity of purpose displayed by trade unions which had a history of divisiveness in the post-independence period. “It is a strike to press for police change, rather than securing economic benefits,” he said.
Trade unions representing various industrial sectors issued statements justifying the general strike. These organisations include the joint action committee of teachers and service organisations, All India Road Transport Workers Federation, bankmen’s unions to name a few.