Civilian employees of Naval Armament Depot did not participate in the strike

The general strike called by central trade unions for 48 hours evoked a good response on day one on Wednesday. The functioning of banks, insurance and other financial sectors, public and private sector industries came to a near-standstill. Essential services were exempted from purview of strike. The cargo handling activity was partially hit at Visakhapatnam and Gangavaram ports with private pool workers abstaining from work.

While an official of Visakhapatnam Port said they could ensure normal operations with 65 to 70 per cent permanent staffers reporting for duty, port trustee and HMS leader D.K. Sarma said they could bring cargo handling operations to a standstill.

APSRTC plied its services normally. Autos were also available at various junctions but they charged more a little more. Hotels, shops and kiosks remained open.

The production at Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, NTPC Simhadri and other units was affected. Steel Plant Employees Union president N. Rama Rao and general secretary D. Adinarayana said two blast furnaces and two of the three casters of steel melt shop could not be operated due to the strike at Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.

The union leaders said 98 per cent of permanent employees and 100 per cent contract workers did not report for duty.

A spokesman for VSP said they could register 99 per cent attendance by executives and 29 per cent non-executives. The strike impact was not felt at BHPV. The civilian employees of Naval Armament Depot did not participate in the strike saying they were part of a strategic defence unit. However, they staged lunch-hour dharna in protest against lack of social security measures for them and other demands.

The strike, on the whole, called against inflation, price-rise, disinvestment, non-implementation of labour laws and to demand removal of ceiling on bonus and gratuity and payment of minimum Rs.10,000 to contract workers, evoked a big response, said CPI (M) district secretary Ch. Narsinga Rao and INTUC leader Mantri Rajasekhar.

CITU activists took out a huge rally from Jagadamba to Asilametta junction carrying caricatures of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and raised slogans against economic policies of the UPA-II Government.

LIC employees after abstaining from duties staged a dharna at the divisional office.

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