Strike paral­y­ses city

Lo­cals bear brunt of ral­lies, road block­ades by trade unions; no trans­ac­tion in banks, loss pegged at 500 crore

HT Ludhiana Live - - Front Page - Nidhi Bhanot ludlivedesk@ hin­dus­tan­times. com

LUD­HI­ANA: Nor­mal life came to a stand­still fol­low­ing ral­lies and traf­fic block­ades as part of the all-in­dia trade union strike on Tues­day.

Em­ploy­ees of na­tion­alised banks, postal depart­ment, Bharat San­char Nigam Limited, Life In­sur­ance Cor­po­ra­tion, Pun­jab State Power Cor­po­ra­tion Limited, North­ern Rail­way Men’s Union and other public sec­tor units as well as an­gan­wadi work­ers took part in the one- day strike to voice their de­mands.

In Lud­hi­ana, around 10am, mem­bers of the Pun­jab Bank Em­ploy­ees Fed­er­a­tion and other trade unions be­sides PSPCL, BSNL and other em­ploy­ees gath­ered at the mini-sec­re­tariat, wav­ing red flags and shout­ing slo­gans against the Cen­tre. Sim­i­lar scenes were seen in front of Ca­nara Bank at Bharat Na­gar Chowk.

How­ever, the strike left lo­cals har­ried as few trans­ac­tions were car­ried out at banks, although of­fi­cers’ as­so­ci­a­tions were not tak­ing part in the strike.

Banks suf­fered losses of more than Rs 500 crore due to the strike, ac­cord­ing to se­nior of­fi­cials. The back­log will take around two to three days to clear.

How­ever, op­er­a­tions were nor­mal at pri­vate banks and sev­eral traders who were aware of the strike call made ar­range­ments to carry out their trans­ac­tions at these banks.

A traf­fic block­ade from noon to 2pm caused ad­di­tional in­con­ve­nience to peo­ple in the city as they had to wait for hours for buses. Those who ar­rived in the city from far-away places and were un­aware of the strike had a tough time reach­ing their desti­na­tions.

Around 1pm, an­gan­wadi women work­ers held a rally and blocked traf­fic on Gill Road, adding to the woes of the peo­ple. Traf­fic lights were not work­ing at Bharat Na­gar Chowk and near Ja­graon Bridge, caus­ing traf­fic jams.

Peo­ple had trou­ble reach­ing their of­fices due to the ser­pen­tine traf­fic jams. How­ever, some de­cided to stay at home to avoid the in­con­ve­nience. “I travel to Moga by bus to reach of­fice, but I pre­ferred to stay at home on Tues­day due to the strike,” said RK Jin­dal, a gov­ern­ment em­ployee. Pri­vate buses did ply in the city, but only from ar­eas on the out­skirts.

Gen­eral man­ager, Pun­jab Road­ways, Satish Sharma, said the firm had lost lakhs of ru­pees due to the two-hour strike at the bus stand.

Ad­dress­ing a rally, Cen­tre of In­dian Trade Unions pres­i­dent In­der­jit Singh Gre­wal, In­dian Na­tional Trade Union Congress cen­tral com­mit­tee mem­ber Om Parkash Me­hta, and the All In­dia Trade Union Congress se­nior vice-pres­i­dent said the strike was or­gan­ised to de­mand re­vi­sion of min­i­mum wages for work­ers, fill­ing up of all va­cant posts on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, re­vised prov­i­dent fund and bonus for all work­ers, in­crease in gra­tu­ity rates, pen­sion for all work­ers, com­pul­sory reg­is­tra­tion of trade unions within 45 days of fil­ing reg­is­tra­tion pa­pers and cre­ation of so­cial se­cu­rity fund for work­ers in the un­or­gan­ised sec­tor as per rec­om­men­da­tions of a par­lia­men­tary panel and im­ple­men­ta­tion of labour laws.

The speak­ers said “neo-lib­eral” eco­nomic poli­cies fol­lowed on the dik­tat of the World Bank, In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund and World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion were “detri­men­tal” for work­ers and in cre­ation of more jobs.

Dharam Paul Maur said de­spite rais­ing their de­mands for a long time, the gov­ern­ment un­der pres­sure from the cor­po­rates, was ig­nor­ing them be­cause of which labour laws were be­ing flouted not only by pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies, but also by public sec­tor firms.

The lead­ers warned the gov­ern­ment that if it did not heed their de­mands, they would in­ten­sify their strug­gle. In­sur­ance staff un­der the aegis of the North­ern Zone In­sur­ance Em­ploy­ees As­so­ci­a­tion held a rally near the LIC di­vi­sional of­fice at Du­gri.

GAU­RAV BA­JAJ, AVNEET PUNNI/HT

(Clock­wise from top) Com­muters have a tough time find­ing means of trans­port as em­ploy­ees of Pun­jab Road­ways joined the all-in­dia strike called by trade unions; a mas­sive traf­fic jam in Lud­hi­ana as ag­i­tat­ing work­ers blocked traf­fic and mem­bers of All In­dia Trade Union Congress shout­ing slo­gans on Tues­day.

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