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