Nationwide strike: Trade unions’ forum says bandh-like situation in at least 8 states

70s-style show of might by Trade Unions – last croak of a dying frog or does it have legs?

70s-style show of might by Trade Unions – last croak of a dying frog or does it have legs?
70s-style show of might by Trade Unions – last croak of a dying frog or does it have legs?

Public Sector Banking services also affected

The joint forum of central trade unions on Monday said that a bandh-like situation prevailed in at least eight states due to the nationwide strike against various policies of the BJP-led Central Government.

“There is a bandh-like situation in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Assam, Haryana, and Jharkhand,” the forum said in a statement. Banking services were impacted partially as major left-wing bank employees did not report for duty in support of the two-day nationwide general strike called by central trade unions. The strike will continue on Tuesday.

According to the forum, agitations were held in many industrial areas across states like Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh.

Security workers in Sikkim went on strike. Besides, workers in industrial areas in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Jammu & Kashmir also joined the strike, it added. The forum said that around 50,000 employees picketed central government offices at 300 places in Tamil Nadu and that staff from the income tax department also joined the nationwide protest.

Apart from the ten central trade unions — INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC — the joint forum also includes independent sectoral federations and workers’ associations. The forum said that more than 20 crore workers from across the country came out to protest on Monday. It also claimed that many employees in banks and insurance companies did not report at their workplaces while those engaged in coal, steel, postal, oil, copper, telecom sectors also participated in the strike.

Electricity department workers went on strike in all the states, including Maharashtra where the government had invoked ESMA, it said. Kerala state unions began to strike from midnight of March 28 itself. Employees of railways and defence departments are reported to have organized demonstrations at more than one thousand places across the country, the statement added.

Transactions at many public sector banks were impacted as employees did not report for duty. Besides, there were delays in cheque clearances and government treasury operations were also affected by the strike. However, there was hardly any impact on the functioning of new-generation private sector banks and foreign banks. Even operations of the country’s largest lender State Bank of India were by and large normal, according to the reports from various regions.

Most SBI employees and officers are not affiliated with unions that have given a call for the protest. The impact of the strike is prominent in eastern India as many branches of public sector banks were closed, All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C H Venkatachalam claimed.

In the other regions, branches are open as officers are present, but services have been impacted due to many employees participating in the strike, he said, adding that clearing operations were also affected because branches could not send the cheques for clearance.

Bank unions are protesting the government’s move to privatize two public sector banks as announced in the Budget for 2021-22. They are also demanding an increase in the interest rate on deposits and a reduction in service charges. Besides AIBEA, the Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) and All India Bank Officers’ Association (AIBOA) are also part of the two-day strike call given by the joint forum of central trade unions and various sectoral independent trade unions to protest against the government’s “anti-people economic policies and anti-worker” labour policies.

[with PTI inputs]

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