KOCHI: The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sanghom (BMS) has given a call to observe hartal on December 29 in protest against the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities. BMS district president M.M. Ramesh alleged that some middlemen and a section of the traders were deciding the prices of essential food items. The Central and State governments looked on helplessly, even as the common man suffered. Poorer sections would have to wait for hours in long queues in front of public distribution outlets to purchase food items, he said. — Staff Reporter