New Delhi/Bengaluru: The two-day nationwide strike called by trade unions against the centre’s “anti-labour" policies impacted life across India with millions of employees from the transport, banking and other industrial sectors staying away from work, besides blocking highways and train tracks.
Around 400,000 staff members, mostly from state-run banks went on strike, bank unions said.
“At least ₹ 21,000 crore of cheques could not be cleared today because of the strike and, by the end of Wednesday evening, this amount will double," said All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) secretary general C.H. Venkatachalam.
Bank employees have taken a hit of a total of “₹200 crore per day in terms of salary loss", but they have no regrets as it serves a bigger purpose of the working community, he said.
“Most sectoral unions, including those from banks and the insurance sector, are on strike in solidarity with trade unions and are demanding in unison the fulfilment of the 12-point charter of demands, including a stop to outsourcing of jobs, privatization of state-run firms, and minimum wage of ₹ 18,000 for all employees," said Amarjeet Kaur, secretary, All India Trade Union Congress, a central union.
The Electricity Employees Federation of India claimed the strike was successful on Tuesday and will intensify on Wednesday.
Ten central trade unions claimed that unions from the coal, mines, petroleum, telecom, manufacturing, electricity, steel, defence and government schemes joined the nationwide strike.
Haryana, West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala, Tripura, Bihar, and Rajasthan were visibly impacted, according to the unions. Many states shut schools and colleges. Key cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai had a cautious beginning to the day but most establishments, public transport and other services started operating amid heavy police presence. The shutdown was total in Communist party-ruled Kerala.
State governments in West Bengal, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu had, however, told their staffers not to take part in the strike. “We have taken a stand of not supporting any bandh. Enough is enough. In the last 34 years, they (Left Front) have destroyed the state by calling bandhs," Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.
In contrast, veteran politician from Bihar Sharad Yadav extended his support to the strike. “In less than five years of National Democratic Alliance rule, workers, farmers and every citizen of this country is living in great difficulty. I support this Bharat Bandh," he said.
Nidheesh M.K. from Bengaluru, Dharani Thangavelu from Chennai and Yunus Lasania from Hyderabad contributed to this story.