Kochi

Bharath bandh: Strike by trade unions total and peaceful in Ernakulam

Trade unions take out a rally in Kochi, Kerala on Wednesday, 08 January, 2020.

Trade unions take out a rally in Kochi, Kerala on Wednesday, 08 January, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

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No untoward incident has been reported in the city and rural limits so far

The nation-wide strike called by trade unions is total in Ernakulam district with public transport largely off the roads, shops and establishments and educational institutions remaining closed and government offices reporting abysmally low attendance rates.

The joint coordination committee of trade unions took out a mammoth protest march from the municipal Town Hall to Kaloor at 9 a.m. Besides, protest marches and meetings are being held in 24 different centres across the district, said C.N. Mohanan, district secretary, CPI (M).

No untoward incident has been reported in the city and rural limits so far.

The State-run KSRTC has restricted operations to Pampa services — for passengers to Sabarimala — from the South railway station with the sparse staff that have turned up for duty. Till now, 70 Pampa services have been operated for Sabarimala-bound passengers reaching the railway station. The Railway authorities have earmarked parking space for seven KSRTC buses within the South station premises for operating Pampa services.

“The KSRTC depot at Ernakulam is completely deserted with just the staff members of the pool created for Pampa services alone reporting for duty. We are willing to operate services in other routes as well provided there are passengers,” said Thajudheen Shahib, District Transport Officer, Ernakulam.

Private buses are staying completely off the roads. “We don’t want to risk buses getting damaged in stone pelting. Besides, none of the workers are available for duty,” said Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation president M.B. Sathyan.

Train services remain more or less unaffected in the strike with majority of the trains passing through the district operating on time. “Train services are operating as on any normal day and so far no attempts to disrupt services have been reported from anywhere. A few autorickshaws are also operating from the prepaid stand at the railway station,” said T.S. Gopakumar, Assistant Commissioner, Railway Protection Force, Ernakulam.

K. Laljy, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ernakulam, said that city police have deployed their vehicles for operating circular city trips for passengers reaching railway stations.

Boat services remain completely disrupted in the district. “We haven’t operated a single service in the district since majority of the workers are striking,” said M. Sujith, Traffic Superintendent, State Water Transport Department, Ernakulam.

Kochi Metro started operating services as usual from 6 a.m. Around 4,000 passengers have used the metro services till 9 a.m., which was less than the average occupancy during peak hours on normal days.

The otherwise bustling Ernakulam market wore a deserted look. “With workers striking and cargo vehicles remaining off the roads, there is no way the market can operate,” said K.K. Ashraf, Secretary, Ernakulam Market Stall Owners Association.

Mohammed Sageer, president, Kerala Steel Traders Association, said that not withstanding declaration by a section of traders to not cooperate with the strike, nearly all shops and establishments in the district remained closed as this was a strike backed by all trade unions.

The offices at the civil station reported abysmally low attendance rate. “Out of the 70-odd offices and around 2,500 employees, just about five offices with only a handful of employees are operating till now,” said Additional District Magistrate Chandrasekharan Nair.

Operations of Infopark remained largely unaffected though the attendance rate remains relatively low. Vehicles deployed by IT companies operated with police escort from Palarivattom. Besides, many workers have chosen to opt for work from home.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 10:04:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/bharat-bandh-strike-by-trade-unions-total-and-peaceful-in-ernakulam/article30512815.ece

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