Life remains normal though banking is hit

BANNER OF REVOLT: Cadres of Left-affiliated unions staging a road roko near railway junction in Tiruchi on Thursday. — PHOTO: R.M.RAJARATHINAM.

BANNER OF REVOLT: Cadres of Left-affiliated unions staging a road roko near railway junction in Tiruchi on Thursday. — PHOTO: R.M.RAJARATHINAM.  

Trade union members court arrest

Special Correspondent

TIRUCHI: : The general strike called by the Left-affiliated and a few other employees' unions against privatisation of public sector entities and other economic policies of the Union Government passed off peacefully on Thursday. Normal life remained unaffected by the strike though banking operations in most of the nationalised bank branches were paralysed.

As many as 2,512 members of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions, All-India Trade Union Congress and other affiliate organisations courted arrest after attempting to stage road rokos in various parts of Tiruchi district.

The strike call was reported to have evoked a lukewarm response in the public sector undertakings such as Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Heavy Alloy Penetrator Project and Ordnance Factory here. BHEL authorities claimed that only seven per cent of its employees abstained from duty. All the shop floors of the boiler manufacturing and allied units functioned as usual on all shifts, the authorities said.

Public transport services, both rail and road, too remained unaffected as employees unions of the services did not participate in the strike. At the Tiruchi airport, flights of the Indian Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines were operated as per schedule though nearly 70 per cent of the employees of the Airports Authority of India joined the strike. There was no disruption of flights as the air traffic control, engineering and communication officials reported for duty.

The banking sector was the worst hit as many of the branches of the nationalised banks in the City remained closed. With banks to be closed on Friday too, on account of half-yearly account closing, public were hit hard due to the disruption of transactions.

However, postal services were partially affected in the district. A large number of employees of public sector insurance agencies also participated in the strike. A section of BSNL employees also joined the strike but telephone services were not affected.Employees of other Central government departments and agencies reported for duty. A section of the auto-rickshaw drivers, owing allegiance to the CITU and AITUC, too joined the strike.

Meanwhile, members of the striking unions and affiliate organisations resorted to picketing in Tiruchi, Musiri, Manachanallur, Kallakudi, Uppilliapuram, Manapparai and Thuvarankurichi in the district. Members of farmers associations, affiliated to the CPI and CPI (M), also participated in the stir at the rural centres.

About 875 agitators, including 75 women, were taken into preventive custody by the police in front of the Railway Junction in the city. The agitation was led jointly by the city Secretaries of the AITUC and the CITU, Balakrishnan and Raja, respectively. The arrested were released in the evening, the police said.

Members of the United Forum of Bank Unions staged a demonstration in front of the Regional Office of the Indian Overseas Bank on the Bharathiar Salai, while members General Insurance Employees' Association resorted to a dharna in front of the LIC Office near the Railway Junction.

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