TAMIL NADU

Mixed response to strike call in State

Members of the Central Government Employees Coordination Committee staging a demonstration at Shastri Bhavan in Chennai on Thursday and (right) CITU members staging a rail roko at Perambur. — Photos: K. Pichumani and M. Vedhan

Members of the Central Government Employees Coordination Committee staging a demonstration at Shastri Bhavan in Chennai on Thursday and (right) CITU members staging a rail roko at Perambur. — Photos: K. Pichumani and M. Vedhan  

No disruption in transportation; bank, insurance, postal services hit

Tamil Nadu Bureau

CHENNAI: : The one-day nationwide strike called by the central trade unions in support of their 16-point charter of demands evoked mixed response in Tamil Nadu on Thursday.

Air, train and bus services functioned as usual. Essential services such as milk, power and water supply were maintained without disruption. However, bank, insurance and postal services were paralysed with an estimated 98 per cent employees participating in the strike. The presence of ATMs throughout the State and the functioning of some private banks came in handy for customers.

Lukewarm

Attendance in Central Government offices was reported to be thin though the supervisory staff were present. However, the response from State Government employees to the strike was lukewarm, according to Government sources, despite claims by some unions that a majority of employees took part in the stir.

There were no major untoward incidents barring minor incidents of stone throwing. The police said four MTC buses were damaged in stone-throwing incidents in Ambattur. More than 20,000 striking workers, including 8,000 women, were arrested when they attempted to road and rail roko in different parts of the State. They were released in the evening, the police said.

Bank and insurance company employees staged demonstrations before their offices in support of their demands, which included comprehensive legislation on service conditions and social security for unorganised workers, removing the ceiling on bonus, strengthening of the public distribution system, rescinding measures raising foreign direct investment in crucial Government sectors and increasing interest rates for the Provident Fund.

Chief Public Relations Officer S. Krishnamurthi said train services were normal throughout the zone except detention of suburban services near Chennai for a few minutes. Most of the trains arrived as scheduled. But departure of trains was affected. Attendance in all railway offices was normal. Employees owing allegiance to Southern Railway Mazdoor Union staged a demonstration in front of the General Manager's office demanding early constitution of the Sixth Pay Commission.

Tight security

Barring the cancellation of flights to Kolkata by private airlines, air services from Anna International and Kamaraj Domestic Terminals of the Chennai Airport, were not affected. Security was tight near vital installations of the airport and at the entry and exit points. Airport Director H.S. Bains said a special counter was opened to inform passengers on departures and arrivals.

A.K.Padmanabhan, vice-president of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, and S. S. Thiagarajan, general secretary of the State unit of the AITUC, said over 60,000 workers including hundreds of women were arrested when they resorted to road and rail rako.

Workers of private industries join strike

A section of the employees in Central organisations such as BHEL, NLC, Salem Steel Plant, and Chennai and Thoothukoodi ports struck work. Workers of many private industries throughout the State also joined the strike, they added.

Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers general secretary M. Duraipandian described the strike as "total in Postal, Income Tax, A.G's, customs and central excise and other offices, and, 85 per cent in Defence establishments." The Tamil Nadu Government Employees Association president, Pon.Velu claimed thousands of State Government employees participated in the strike. According to the general secretary of the All-India Bank Employees Association, C.H. Venkatachalam, clearing and cash transactions were crippled throughout the State due to the strike by bank employees.

The strike by bankmen would have a cascading effect, as banks would be closed on Friday for half yearly closing and Saturday being a half working day, said a consumer activist.

Tamil Nadu Medical and Sales Representatives Association general secretary G. Gopinath said more than 10,000 sales and medical representatives struck work.

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