Public transport hit; schools, colleges remain closed
Barring curtailment of public transport and closure of educational institutions, life was largely normal across the State on the first day of the two-day nationwide strike called by trade unions against the rise is prices of essential commodities and the economic policies of the Union government.
Stray cases of violence were reported. In the Peenya industrial area in Bangalore, factories that were working were stoned, forcing them to shut down.
Though the trade unions termed the first day of the strike “successful”, the response was mixed. Several PSUs including HAL, BHEL and BEL, besides a host of other industrial units in Bangalore, functioned normally.
At least 50 per cent of the small and medium industrial units in Peenya remained shut even as the industrial units in Mysore, Nanjangud and Kolar responded positively to the strike call. Public sector bank and insurance employees boycotted work while their counterparts in the private sector functioned as usual. BSNL and postal services were partially affected.
Terming the response to strike “overwhelming”, CITU State secretary Prasanna Kumar said that 80 per cent of workers in the transport sector and 100 per cent in the unorganised sector along with workers in several private industrial units participated in the strike. According to him, over 14,000 construction workers, 1.25 lakh anganwadi workers, 10 lakh beedi workers — all in the unorganised sector — struck work. Most of the garment industry workers also did not turn up for work. The trade unions took out procession and staged protests in several parts of the State.
However, life remained unaffected in most parts of the State with a majority of business establishments, theatres, hotels and private offices functioning normally, while government offices reported thin attendance. Health services too were normal, but there were not many patients.
The Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry estimated that trade and industry suffered losses of up to Rs. 900 crore due to the Wednesday’s shutdown. With the BMTC running skeletal services and hundreds of autorickshaws plying, commuters in Bangalore were not as badly hit as elsewhere. In several centres across the State such as Hassan, Tumkur, Chitradurga, Mysore, Mandya, Kolar, Gulbarga, Shimoga, Belgaum and Davangere, where the State transport corporation had withdrawn services and autorickshaws were off the road, commuters had a harrowing time. In Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts, both public as well as private transport buses were off the road.
Most schools and colleges were closed. Visvesvaraya Technological University postponed M.Tech., MCA and MBA examinations scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. The Karnataka State Diploma Nurses Education Board put off the practical examinations of the General Nurses and Midwifery diploma course for want of examiners.
Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Oder) Bipin Gopalkrishna said that the strike was peaceful barring stray instances in Bangalore and Hunsur.