Banking, insurance operations hit

A DESERTED LOOK: A section of employees stayed away from work in the Visakhapatnam Collectorate on Thursday.

A DESERTED LOOK: A section of employees stayed away from work in the Visakhapatnam Collectorate on Thursday.  

Strike evokes mixed response from industrial workers Strike evokes mixed response from industrial workers

Staff Reporter

VISAKHAPATNAM: Banking and insurance operations were paralysed and in industrial units workers' response was mixed to the nationwide general strike called by major Central trade unions, barring Indian National Trade Union Congress and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, and several employees federations on Thursday.

The strike was to protest against the economic policies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government and its "anti-worker'' attitude.

Normal life was not affected as RTC buses and autorickshaws plied. No untoward incident was reported. At Bharat Heavy Plate and Vessels Limited, Gajuwaka, 13 workers were arrested for trying to prevent officials from attending duties. All the unions participated in the strike at BHPV, which is in dire need of a revival package.

Honorary president of the Visakhpatnam Harbour and Port Workers Union (affiliated to the All-India Trade Union Congress), V.V. Rama Rao, said that 40 to 50 per cent of the port workers participated in the strike and in the Dock Labour Board 90 per cent of the workers abstained. However, the Port Trust authorities claimed that normal work was not affected and the attendance in the port was 85 per cent and in the DLB it was 35 per cent. Workers were drawn from the private pool to ensure work, it was stated.

A rally and a dharna was organised by workers at the port demanding consideration of the charter drawn up by trade unions.

CITU holds rally

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) took out a huge rally from Jagadamba Centre to the RTC Complex where a rasta-roko was organised and a meeting was held.

The CITU, which was spearheading the strike, said that 2,000 workers participated in the strike in the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, but VSP management claimed that normal operations were ensured smoothly and attendance was absolutely normal.

According to CITU district general secretary A. Ajay Sarma, all the 5,000 workers in the Chittivalasa Jute Mill and those working in units in the Industrial Estate, Autonagar and other small units in the district participated in the strike.

Striking employees of Life Insurance Corporation of India and members of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited Employees Union, NSTL Civilian Employees Union, Vizag Region General Insurance Employees Association and General Insurance Employees Union staged dharnas and protests in support of their demands.

Leaders of the United Forum of Bank Unions held a meeting at the State Bank of India's main branch on Jail Road.

Train services affected

While there was no disruption in the services on the East Coast Railway, one train originating from Kolkata was cancelled and two were delayed inordinately. The 7045 Howrah-Hyderabad East Coast Express was cancelled while the 2703 Howrah-Secunderabad Falaknuma Express and 2841 Howrah-Chennai Coromandel Express did not depart at the scheduled time.

According to airport authorities, all the five scheduled flights operated from Visakhapatnam.

Bus services in the city and the district were almost normal with 92 per cent services plying in spite of participation by members of employees union and staff and workers federation in the stir. Of the 999 services, 917 plied, according to Regional Manager D. Satyanarayana.

Banking at standstill

Following the total participation by bank staff, transactions came to a standstill. According to United Forum of Bank Unions, all the officers and employees working in 322 branches/offices belonging to the public, private and cooperative sectors and regional rural banks participated in the strike paralysing banking activity.

According to an estimate, bank transactions in the city alone amount to hundreds of crores of rupees in one single day. Since the clearing house also did not function, those who deposited cheques would not be able to realise the amounts till Monday due to the half-yearly closure of banks on Friday and half-day working on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Airports Authority Employees' Union also participated in the strike opposing, among other things, privatisation of airports. According to convener and local secretary, L. Eswara Rao, the 48 union members struck work responding to the call given by AAI Employees Joint Forum.

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