Kerala

General strike paralyses normal life in State

A deserted view of the Palakkad-Coimbatore NH 544 from Chandranagar on Wednesday. The 24-hour strike called by trade unions against the Central government’s anti-worker policies was total in the State.

A deserted view of the Palakkad-Coimbatore NH 544 from Chandranagar on Wednesday. The 24-hour strike called by trade unions against the Central government’s anti-worker policies was total in the State.   | Photo Credit: K_K_Mustafah

more-in

Bandh-like situation as public transport ceased operations

The 24-hour general strike called by trade unions in protest against the anti-labour policies of the Centre paralysed life in no small measure in Kerala.

The lockdown called by the Joint Action Committee of Trade Unions manifested in a punishing State-wide blockade on the eve of ASCEND 2020, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government's much-publicised pitch to portray Kerala as an investment-friendly destination for global businesses.

In a high-profile incident, strike supporters prevented the passage of a houseboat carrying Nobel laureate Michael Levitt and fellow foreign tourist who were on a leisure trip along the backwaters of Alappuzha.

Mr. Levitt was in Kerala as a State guest and the strike supporters had held up his boat for an hour. The police have registered a case, and Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran has regretted the incident. The action has also angered trade union leaders who had exempted the tourism sector and Sabarimala pilgrimage from the shutdown.

The industrial lockdown assumed the proportions of a bandh in the State. People could not get to hospitals or report for work. Stage carriage services ceased operations. Two-wheelers and private cars plied only at intervals.

JEE aspirants hit

Kerala State Road Transport Corporation employees struck work. Students missed study. Hundreds of aspirants for medical and engineering courses strained to reach Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) (Main) centres in time for the test. Shops and restaurants remained shuttered. The movement of freight stopped. Governance was at a minimum. Public offices worked on skeletal staff.

The strike immobilised the banking sector and turned busy markets and commercial districts into ghost towns. Trade unionists forced the closure of banks in Thiruvalla.

Television channels repeatedly broadcast videos of trade unionists stopping autorickshaws in different parts of the State and forcing passengers, including women, to step out and walk the distance to their destination. Stranded commuters pointed out that Kerala was facing its second siege-like strike in the past 30 days. A dawn-to-dusk hartal in protest the new citizenship law had transfixed normal life on December 17.

Strike supporters attempted to stop private vehicles in front of the Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram. However, sources said the strike did not affect the work at the IT hub.

Sabarimala pilgrimage

The strike did not affect the Sabarimala pilgrimage. The temple witnessed eight-hour queues and unusually large crowds. The business was usual at tourism destinations, including Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram, which was exempted from the shutdown.

Striking unions held marches in all district centres. CITU State general secretary Elamaram Kareem inaugurated the protest in Thiruvananthapuram.

The intensity of the strike appeared to abate as it ground on to its final hours ending on Wednesday midnight.

By evening, private vehicles and motorbikes had started plying as usual. Several shops transacted business with their shutters half-open, and life seemed to limp back to normalcy.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics Kerala
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 10:18:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/trade-union-strike-affects-life-in-state/article30515461.ece

Next Story