NEW DELHI: The nationwide strike called by central trade unions began early on Wednesday affected banking, transport and other services across the country.
Services like deposit and withdrawal, cheque clearing and instrument issuance were the most impacted by the strike. Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) banks like Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank are amongst the most affected. The private sector banks functioned with thin attendance.
The strike hit the banking sector most since most of the bank employee associations, including All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA), Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC) and Bank Karmachari Sena Mahasangh (BKSM) joined the strike.
Country's leading lender State Bank of India (SBI) said the strike is set to have minimal impact on its operations saying that very few SBI employees will be a part of the six bank unions participating in the strike.
Ten Central Trade Unions (CTUs) — INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC — along with various sectoral independent federations and associations are participating in the 24-hour bandh.
Rail and road transport in eastern India especially West Bengal and Odisha were hit by the strike. However, Delhi and Mumbai did not see much disruption early on Wednesday.
In West Bengal, trade unions affiliated to Left and other parties participated in the strike. However, the TMC-led state government said it will not support any bandh.
Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari said that the West Bengal Travel Corporation will operate 22 percent additional buses on Wednesday. The state government will also offer insurance cover to vehicles against damages during the bandh.
Meanwhile, in Kerala, the trade unions exempted the state's tourism sector from Wednesday's general strike. Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society hailed as "exemplary" the decision by political parties and trade unions to exempt the state's tourism sector from Wednesday’s general strike.
The Centre on Tuesday had warned the CTUs against the 24-hour nationwide strike, according to a personnel ministry order.
"Any employee going on strike in any form would face the consequences which, besides deduction of wages, may also include appropriate disciplinary action," the order said.
In a missive issued to all central government departments, it said existing instructions prohibit a government servant from participating in any form of strike including mass casual leave etc.
The strike is to press the 12 point charter of demands raised by the central trade unions. The demands include a minimum wage of Rs. 21,000 per month, better job creation, roll back of policies on contractualisation of workforce, tripartite discussion on labour reform, no to privatisation of profit making public sector enterprises and universal pension system.
The trade unions have claimed that over 200 million workers from both formal and informal sectors will participate in the nation-wide strike throughout the Day.
Image Credit: News Minute