New Delhi: As the two-day Bharat Bandh called by labour unions to protest against the Narendra Modi government policies began this morning, commuters were having a tough time finding buses, autorickshaws and taxis in several cities like Mumbai. Transport workers from PSUs, private and unorganised sector went on strike in several parts of the country today.
In southern India, cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai, public transport services were largely unaffected but the shutdown was total in Left-ruled Kerala. In Bengaluru, several schools, colleges and banks were reported to be shut during the day. Some universities even deferred the examinations, according to PTI.
In Mumbai, around 25 lakh passengers who travel by 3,000 Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) buses that ply on streets of Mumbai city and the metropolitan region every day were affected. Thousands of employees of the transport service went on an indefinite strike over demands of implementation of the merger of the BEST budget with the principal budget of the BMC, employee service residences, etc.
BEST management, on the other hand, had declared the strike illegal and issued internal circulars warning staffers of strict action if they proceeded with it. An industrial court had also restrained the union workers from going on strike.
To cope up with the crisis, the state transport department ran 40 extra buses.
Left union leaders brought out procession marches and dharnas in different parts of the country to demand minimum wages, social security schemes and stalling privatisation of government enterprises.
In West Bengal’s Howrah, railway lines were also blocked by protesters.
“The strike is quite visible in Assam, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Manipur, Bihar, Rajasthan, Goa, Punjab, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Haryana -- particularly in the targeted industrial areas and different mines," Amarjeet Kaur, General Secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), told PTI. She also claimed that the transport department in Bhopal is closed completely and employees of Haryana Roadways are also participating in the strike.
The 10 central trade unions which have called for strike include INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC.