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Mixed response to trade unions' stir in State

WALK TO SCHOOL: Heavy rain coupled with a strike by auto drivers on Thursday caused hardship to students and office-goers in Bangalore. — Photo: K. Gopinathan

WALK TO SCHOOL: Heavy rain coupled with a strike by auto drivers on Thursday caused hardship to students and office-goers in Bangalore. — Photo: K. Gopinathan  

Strike near total in industrialised urban centres; 17 buses damaged in stone-throwing in Bangalore

Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: There was varied response in the State to the call given by trade union organisations affiliated to the Left parties for a nationwide strike, with industrialised urban centres reporting better participation.

The impact of the strike was felt even in the towns as State Government employees and those of banks joined the strike. The Deputy Commissioners in the districts and tahsildars in the taluks were busy receiving memoranda against the economic policies of the United Progressive Alliance Government at the Centre. So also the police who were on the vigil against untoward incidents.

The day passed off peacefully in most places except minor incidents in Bangalore. Air services were partially affected as employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) took part in the strike. Officials of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited managed the air traffic control and emergency services as AAI employees struck work.

The closure of banks affected trade and industry for the day. However, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation ran its services, including the city bus services, and it attenuated the impact of the strike. The railways maintained their services.

In Bangalore, the strike was near total. Seventeen buses were damaged in incidents of stone-throwing by protestors. State and Central Government offices, banks, offices of the Life Insurance Corporation of India, public sector industries and several of the private industries did not function. Most of the schools and colleges were closed. The heavy rain in the morning dampened the atmosphere. Though the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation ran its buses, autorickshaws were off the road and it inconvenienced, in particular, passengers arriving at railway stations. The processions taken out by the bank employees, industrial workers and others affected the movement of vehicles.

In Mysore, there was good response to the call for the strike. However autorickshaws and city buses operated as usual. The functioning of government offices and banks was affected. Employees of the Central Food Technological Research Institute held a protest meeting. Teachers and employees of the University of Mysore supported the strike.

In the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad, life was affected and hundreds of employees of State and the Central governments kept away from their offices and took out processions.

In Hubli, the State Government employees took out a procession from the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. In the district headquarters of Dharwad, a large number of anganwadi workers, whose demands are pending for years, took out a procession to the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

It was a day of processions and fiery speeches against the UPA Government's policies in Mangalore. Bank employees were prominent among the protestors, though their unions owing allegiance to the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and the Indian National Trade Union Congress had not given the call for the strike.

Belgaum city reverberated with slogans in Hindi against the Centre's economic policies and privatisation moves. Even the autorickshaw drivers decided to forego their earnings for the day.

Procession

In Shimoga, about 20 labour unions and associations participated in the strike under the banner of the Samoohika Sanghatanegala Vedike. They took out a procession from the Science Field and were joined by bank employees.

In Madikeri, speakers at the protest meetings raised the issue of social and service security for the unorganised labour and wanted the Government to ensure remunerative prices to the growers of coffee, pepper and cardamom. Chikmagalur district, which has a good presence of the Communist Party of India, especially in the coffee plantations, reported good participation in the strike. While the bandh was near total in Gulbarga district, members of trade unions in Bidar district criticised the Union Government for dismantling the social security system in the country.

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