Unions on strike claimed that majority of the employees and teachers had abstained from duty, but the government countered it with figures to buttress its claim that over 62 per cent of the employees had reported for duty.

The indefinite strike launched by pro-LDF and pro-BJP State employees and teachers and the solidarity strike by employees of major public utilities, particularly the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), hit the functioning of offices and educational institutions and disrupted public transport across the State on Tuesday.

Unions on strike claimed that majority of the employees and teachers had abstained from duty, but the government countered it with figures to buttress its claim that over 62 per cent of the employees had reported for duty. Among those who could not do so, government spokesmen said, were many who could not make it to their workplaces on account of the strike by private bus operators and KSRTC employees.

Skirmishes

In many parts of the State, the employees on strike resorted to mildly violent means to prevent their colleagues from reporting for work. The police registered eight cases in connection with incidents on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram alone. There were also mild skirmishes among the employees in some places and reports of attempted intimidation, but these did not go out of hand because of timely intervention by the police.

The staff on strike held demonstrations before their respective offices. Inaugurating a demonstration in the capital, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan warned the government against intimidating the employees with threats. Pension was one of the rights of the employees and the government should not try to take it away, he said.

What aggravated the situation on day one of the strike was the decision of the pro-LDF workers of the KSRTC to abstain from work and the private bus workers’ strike (which was settled later in the day). Public transport, particularly in central and northern Kerala, remained hit on account of their strike and this resulted in disruption of life across the region.

Keywords: Kerala strike