Left trade unions shut down West Bengal (Lead)August 20th, 2008 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Aug 20 (IANS) Life came to standstill in communist-ruled West Bengal Wednesday due to a 24-hour nation-wide shutdown called by Leftist trade unions. Senior leaders of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said the shutdown received an overwhelming response as common people spontaneously responded to the strike in the state.
“It’s good that people have understood the problem caused by the economic policies of the central government and have supported our call for the strike. It was a total shutdown,” CITU state secretary Kali Ghosh told the media here.
He said: “The trade union movement by the Left parties will further continue in the country.”
CITU is the national trade union front of the Communist Party of India (Marxists) (CPI-M) which leads the ruling Left Front coalition in the state.
CITU is also one of the largest trade union of workers in the country.
Transport services including airports, railways and road traffic were disrupted in West Bengal following the 24-hour shutdown by the trade unions against inflation, price rise and other economic policies of the Centre.
“About 80-odd flights, scheduled within the shutdown tenure, have been postponed till tomorrow (Thursday). We have informed passengers earlier so that they don’t have to face any harassment,” Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) Airport director V.K. Monga said.
All vehicles were kept off the road and two major eastern India railheads - Howrah and Sealdah railway station - also wore a deserted look since early Wednesday morning.
According to railway sources, all long-distance trains from Howrah station have been cancelled. Three trains - Jagannath Express, Howrah-Mumbai Mail and Guwahati-Bangalore Express - have halted at Kharagpur station.
Suburban train services in both Eastern and South-Eastern railways were badly hit while the metro railway operated irregularly with the agitators picketing outside the metro stations in Kolkata.
“So far, there is no untoward incident reported from anywhere in the state,” West Bengal Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said.
The state’s industrial hubs at Howrah, Bankura, Malda, Murshidabad and Burdwan districts as well as the tea gardens in its northern districts remained closed.
The IT and ITeS sectors were also affected due to Wednesday’s strike called by the trade unions.
“The IT sector is affected due to the strike. The percentage of attendance at the state’s IT hub Salt Lake sector-V is very low,” West Bengal IT principal secretary Siddharth told IANS.
The call for the August 20 county-wide strike has been given by the Sponsoring Committee of Trade Unions comprising All India Trade Union Centre (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Labour Progressive Force (LPF), All-India Central Council of Trade Union (AICCTU), Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC), and All-India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) apart from CITU.
The six-point charter of demand of the trade unions calls for containment of unprecedented price rise, widening economic disparities, falling real wages and mass-scale violation of labour laws, rising unemployment and increasing atrocities on labourers.
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