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Strike passes off uneventful

Staff Reporter
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Improved attendance reported in government offices

Food first:Head-load workers cooking their food at the Taluk Office Junction in Kollam city on Thursday as owners and employees of eateries joined the general strike. –Photo C. Suresh Kumar
Food first:Head-load workers cooking their food at the Taluk Office Junction in Kollam city on Thursday as owners and employees of eateries joined the general strike. –Photo C. Suresh Kumar

The 48-hour nationwide general strike called by Central trade unions was near-total in Kollam district on Thursday. Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and private buses remained off the road.

Autorickshaws were seen plying in dribs and drabs. Shops and commercial establishments remained closed. All Milma booths functioned. No untoward incidents were reported from anywhere in the district.

The business hubs of Chinnakada and Paikada in the city wore a deserted look. Public markets functioned and people went to these for daily purchases. Many shops in residential areas were seen functioning with half-open shutters.

Educational institutions across the district remained closed. The close to 400 post offices in the district, including four head post offices, remained closed as employees joined the strike. Speed-post distribution and booking also did not operate.

Improved attendance was reported at the civil station complex and some of the State government offices. Production at the public sector Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd was not hit.

The Kollam railway station was more active on Thursday than Wednesday. People who had booked for journey on long-distance trains arrived well in advance. Trains such as inter-city, Venad, and Vanchinad express, used by office-goers, were not crowded. Restaurants at the railway station saw heavy sales as those in the city remained close.

Private cars and two-wheelers plied as usual. Fuel pumps remained closed. There was no cooking gas distribution. Some of the banks opened but did not transact business. The striking employees took out a march in the city under the banner of the Joint Trade Unions Council.

Headload workers cooked food by the roadside near the Taluk Office junction and distributed it free-of-cost. The twin fishing harbours of Needakara and Shakthikulangara wore a deserted look but the fish-landing sites for traditional fishermen at Tangassery harbour complex were active.

Perhaps for the first time, the plantation sector in the eastern parts of the district was totally hit. The public sector Rehabilitation Plantations Limited (RPL), Oil Palm India Limited (OPIL), and the State Farming Corporation (SFC) estates remained closed. None of the employees reported for duty.

Unit and estates offices and factories of these companies also remained closed. There was no rubber tapping at RPL and SFC estates. G. Thomaskutty, district secretary of Plantation Employees Union, said all employees of RPL joined the strike and it was the first such instance in the 35-year history of the company.

Plantation sector employees did not report for duty at privates estates too. There was no work at Harrisons Malayalam Estates and the Travancore Tea and Rubber Estates at Ambanad.

Strike total

Staff Reporter writes from Pathanamthitta: The strike was total and peaceful in the district on Thursday.

Shops and business establishments remained closed. There was low attendance at government offices at all towns and village headquarters in the district.

Motor vehicles, except a few two-wheelers, kept off the road on Thursday too. The public transport system too continued to be at a standstill, crippling normal life in the district. The strike-supporters took out marches at Pathanamthitta, Adoor, Pandalam, Thiruvalla, Kozhencherry, Ranni, Konni and Mallappally.

A.Shamsuddin, INTUC district president, inaugurated the march at Pathanamthitta. K.C. Rajagopalan, former MLA, Saleem P.Chacko, Revolutionary Youth Front State secretary, Benzy Thomas (AITUC), P.K.Gopi (INTUC), and C.S.Sreekumar (BMS), spoke.

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