Business

Nationwide Strike Strikes Banking Operations, Transportation Services


Bank branches and transport services were affected on the first day of the nationwide strike

New Delhi:

Public transactions at several bank branches were affected and public transport services were not functioning in states such as West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as thousands of workers on Monday began a two-day strike across the country to protest government policies.

However, essential services such as health care, electricity and fuel supply remained unaffected.

Public offices as well as educational institutions were not affected by the strike called by nearly a dozen unions.

Some bank branches, especially in cities with strong trade union movements, conduct public affairs at very limited counters such as cash deposits and withdrawals.

A joint forum of central trade unions, which has called for a two-day strike that began on Monday, said that a bandh-like situation occurred in at least eight states following nationwide strikes against various government policies.

“There are bandh -like situations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Assam, Haryana and Jharkhand,” the forum said in a statement.

According to the forum, unrest has taken place in many industrial areas across the state such as Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

In Maharashtra, volume data from clearing and refilling centers at Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) was not immediately available, although striking workers claimed they had a profound impact.

Workers staged protests in several places and unions claimed the unrest had affected coal mining areas in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

A joint forum of central trade unions protested government policies involving workers, farmers and the people.

Their demands include the abolition of the labor code, no privatization in any form, the abolition of the National Monetization Pipeline (NMP), an increase in wage allocation under MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and the appointment of contract workers.

In West Bengal, ordinary life was hit with protesters blocking roads and stopping the movement of trains at several stations.

State road transport buses as well as rickshaws and private buses are off the road in Kerala but vital services, including milk supply, hospitals and ambulance services are not affected.

Public transport services were affected in Haryana when state road workers joined the strike.

Thousands of government-owned SAIL, RINL and NMDC workers also joined the strike, affecting production at steel plants and mines.

Banking services were partially affected on Monday as some bank employees did not report for duty.

However, there is almost no impact on the functioning of the new generation of private sector banks. There may have been delays in the release of checks and government treasury operations may also have been affected by the strike.

The impact of the strike was significant in eastern India as many public sector bank branches there were closed, said All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) secretary -general CH Venkatachalam.

In other provinces, branches were opened because there were officers but services were affected due to many workers joining the strike, he said.

The bank union protested the government’s move to privatize two public sector banks as announced in Budget 2021-22.

They also demanded an increase in interest rates on deposits and a reduction in service charges.

The central trade unions that are part of this joint forum are INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC.

“The two -day nationwide strike by the central trade union joint forum has started this morning and has received good response,” Amarjeet Kaur, Secretary -General of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), told PTI.

He said the entire coal belt (mining areas) had been affected in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

According to him, there was a good response to the strike call in the industrial areas of Assam, Haryana, Delhi, West Bengal, Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

Kaur claimed that banks and the insurance sector had been affected across India while the steel and oil sectors had also suffered partial impact as a result of the strike.

About 20 crore workers are expected to join the strike. Strike notices have been given by unions in various sectors, including coal, steel, oil, telecommunications, postal, income tax, copper, banking and insurance.

Bal Malkit Singh, Chairman of the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) Core Committee said, according to reports received so far, the transport of goods was not affected by the strike.

AIMTC, the top body for truck drivers, did not give a strike call.

“Our trucks run smoothly all over the country,” he said.

“All supplies are normal. During the day, we do not receive any feedback from any members across the country that there is any disruption in the supply chain …. We are not part of the unrest,” he said.

However, the Confederation of All Indian Traders (CAIT) said the strike called by the joint forum of trade unions had been a “total flop” in the informal sector.

In a statement, it also claimed no impact could be seen even in various industrial areas where small industries carry out manufacturing activities.

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