KARNATAKA

Bandh call evokes good response

RED POWER: Workers taking out a procession in Belgaum on Thursday.

RED POWER: Workers taking out a procession in Belgaum on Thursday.  

Processions taken out in Belgaum, Hubli-Dharwad; mixed reaction in Uttara Kannada

Staff Correspondent

BELGAUM: The city echoed with slogans such as "Down with privatisation" and "Maang Raha Hai Hindustan, Lal Kile Pe Laal Nishaan" as hundreds of workers and members of trade unions and workers/employees' associations took out a procession here on Thursday in response to the nationwide strike call given by Central trade unions to oppose the Centre's free-market reforms and privatisation of public sector units.

Work at government offices, banks, insurance companies and post offices came to a halt as a result of the strike, which crippled normal life. Even autorickshaw drivers joined the strike. Banks recorded poor transaction.

Workers and employees under the banners of the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), All India Insurance Employees' Association, All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA), National Federation of Indian Women KSRTC Employees' Association, Midday Meal and Anganwadi Workers' Association, Karnataka State Government Employees' Association and several other organisations took out an impressive procession through the main thoroughfares of the city. Prominent leaders who led the procession and addressed a rally on the Deputy Commissioner's office premises included AITUC State unit vice-president A.R. Vijaykumar; CPI district unit Secretary Nagesh Sateri; CITU district unit President C.A. Karade; AIBOA district unit president B.B. Kulkarni, AIIEA district unit president G.V. Kulkarni and NFIW State unit president Parimal Vijay Kumar.

Memorandum

Later, they submitted a memorandum to the authorities addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi listing 33 demands, which included five demands each pertaining to the State and the district.

Their major demands are a halt to privatisation of profit-making public-sector units, nationalised banks, telecom sector, airports, ports and docks, public transport and public services; stopping merger of banks and dropping the move to corporatise defence production units. Measures to revive sick or loss-making but potentially viable public-sector units, steps to recover tax arrears from corporate defaulters, implementation of labour laws, including statutory minimum wages in all sectors, and enactment of legislation on service conditions and social security for unorganised sector workers and agricultural workers are the other major demands listed in the memorandum.

The workers are also demanding the constitution of the Sixth Pay Commission for government employees, increasing the interest rates on provident fund and small savings, scraping of the new pension system, and bringing down the prices of essential commodities such as petroleum, diesel and life-saving drugs. They are also demanding 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and State legislatures and steps to prevent sexual harassment of women at workplace. One of their major demands pertaining to the State is to accord "AI city" status to Bangalore.

Drawing attention to the floods in the State, the unions demanded adequate compensation to the victims and restoration of roads and other infrastructure.

Procession

Hubli Staff Correspondent reports:

Hundreds of employees of Union and State government took out a procession here on Thursday and held a public meeting in response to the strike call given by trade unions.

The procession began at two points in the city and converged at Kittur Channamma Circle. While members of the Akhila Karnataka Rajya Sarkari Naukarara Okkuta, Hubli, took out a procession from the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in front of Karnatak Institute of Medical Sciences, members of other Union and State government employees' union started their procession from the Ambedkar statue opposite the Head Post Office.

The protestors shouted slogans against the Union Government's move to "dilute" labour laws, which, they said, is against the interests of government employees and unorganised workers.

Traffic hit

Traffic was hit for more than 30 minutes as both the processions converged at Kittur Channamma Circle. The protesters then moved to Indira Glass House where a public meeting was held

In Dharwad, members of several employees' unions took out a procession. Anganwadi workers also took out a huge procession to the office of the Deputy Commissioner and submitted a memorandum.

Mixed response

Karwar Correspondent adds:

The strike call given by various trade unions to protest against the economic policies of the UPA Government evoked a mixed response in Uttara Kannada district. All educational institutions and government offices functioned as usual and shops remained open.

Processions were taken out in all the 11 taluk centres of the district. Members of various trade unions took part in the processions.

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