ANDHRA PRADESH

Unions geared up for two-day bandh

Rival unions have joined hands to take part in the nation-wide general strike – shutdown of industries, transport and other sectors on February 20 and 21.

As MLC election is also falling on February 21, the district administration is taking no chance and holding consultation with the department/agency concerned to ensure hassle-free elections for MLC from Teachers’ Constituency.

District Collector V. Seshadri told The Hindu that they were in touch with all departments concerned to ensure smooth conduct of elections. Forcible enforcement of bandh would not be allowed, a police officer said.

Major trade unions have announced their support for the strike against price-rise, inflation, disinvestment, minimum pay of Rs.10,000 for contract workers and social security measures for workers engaged in unorganised labour.

Unions affiliated to Left parties as well as INTUC are supporting the strike. However, they said emergency services like milk, power, water supply, newspaper distribution and medical services would be exempted from the purview of the bandh. “We don’t expect any problem for milk supply. In the past also never we had any problem for distribution of milk through various booths,” an official of Visakha Dairy said.

Strike notices have been served by APSRTC Employees’ Union (AITUC) and APSRTC Staff and Workers’ Federation (CITU). National Mazdoor Union is not participating in the strike.

CPI (M) district secretary Ch. Narsinga Rao said the bandh would paralyse the normal life for two days, for the first time in country’s history. Major industries in the city have asked their executives not to take leaves on February 20 and 21. RINL management is understood to have decided to engage the employees of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant on 12-hour shift instead of normal eight hours. Key officials would be asked to be present on the plant premises from midnight of February 20. “Our thrust is to ensure basic services so as not to affect the safe functioning of various plants at VSP,” a RINL official said.

LIC, insurance firms

Employees of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and public sector general insurance companies will take part in the general strike. “We will wholeheartedly take part in the strike in protest against proposal to raise ceiling on FDI in insurance sector,” Insurance Corporation Employees’ Union (ICEU) divisional president B.B. Ganesh said.

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