The dawn-to-dusk motor transport strike called by the joint action council of transport workers in protest against the hike in petrol price hit normal life across the State on Friday.

Roads remained by and large deserted as vehicles, both public and private, stayed off the road. With the employees boycotting work in large numbers, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) was unable to operate a majority of its services. Private buses did not ply in many parts of the State, hitting people's mobility.

This resulted in shops and commercial establishments in several parts of the State remaining closed or working only nominally. The strike hit markets across the State.

Near-total

The strike was near-total in the State capital. Only a few two-wheelers and four-wheelers could be seen on the roads during the major part of the day. With taxis and autorickshaw drivers also joining the strike, there was very little vehicular movement. The Chalai market in the city did not function to its full potential. In Thiruvananthapuram, the striking workers staged a demonstration and a dharna under the joint action council comprising CITU, BMS, INTUC, AITUC, UTUC, STU, and HMS. The dharna was inaugurated by Communist Party of India (Marxist) district secretary Kadakampally Surendran.Minister's reaction

Meanwhile, Shibu Baby John, who will take charge as the Labour Minister on Monday, deprecated the strike by the motor workers' union on Friday.

Addressing a press conference, the Minister said that government had forgone annual revenue of Rs.130 crore to bring down the petrol prices.

However, the protestors chose to paralyse the State within 48 hours of the new government assuming office, without even allowing the government the customary ‘honeymoon'.

Mr. John said that the Opposition was using the workers as a political tool. He said that strikes like these would only help deepen public ire against workers. Kerala still had a bad reputation in industrial circles.

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