Shutdown hits Left-ruled states, strike hits banks (Roundup)

August 20th, 2008 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) A nationwide shutdown Wednesday by Left-backed trade unions crippled the three states ruled by Communist parties but the rest of India was more or less unaffected. An unrelated strike almost paralysed nationalised banks in many parts of India.Only airports and airlines reported disruptions in flights in some states not ruled by the Left as airport employees took part in the Left shutdown called to protest rise in food prices and the central government’s economic policies.

Except in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, which are ruled by Left parties led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), life was normal in most states.

Two of the largest Left unions spearheading the strike were the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) of the CPI-M and the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), which is affiliated to the Communist Party of India.

In West Bengal, the strike disrupted normal life. A holiday spirit prevailed in the state. Shops, offices and business establishments were closed. Public transport was off the roads.

A similar situation prevailed in Kerala and Tripura.

In Kerala, although flights were operational, passengers found it difficult to move to and from airports. Air India official H.A. Munaf told IANS: “Many passengers arrived quite early and some are caught up at airports because of lack of public transport.”

Bus services between Tripura and other northeastern states were cancelled. Examinations, including in Tripura University, were called off.

In Orissa too, rail and road traffic were disrupted in several areas. “The bandh (shutdown) has affected banks, insurance, central government offices and rail traffic,” Inspector General of Police Pradeep Kapoor told IANS.

Buses did not ply in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, he said.
Protestors halted several passenger trains at Bhadrak, Balasore, Puri, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.

In Delhi, flights to and from Kolkata were cancelled, a Delhi airport spokesperson told IANS.

Telecom services too were hit as trade unions in the government’s Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd joined the Left shutdown. V.A.N. Namboodiri, general secretary of the BSNL Employees Union, claimed that over 80 percent of workers stayed away Wednesday.

In Tamil Nadu, the strike partly affected life in the Communist stronghold of Coimbatore and the textile town of Tirupur. Two trains scheduled to travel through Kerala were detained at different places, the authorities said.

The strike had little impact in Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka.

Also Wednesday, employees of state-run banks across the country staged a strike, mainly to protest the merger of the State Bank of Saurashtra with the State Bank of India (SBI).

In the capital, private banks made extra provision for cash to ease the problems of bank customers.

“There is a complete breakdown of normal operations in nationalised banks in the country,” said S.S. Shishodia, general secretary of the All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA), Delhi state.

In Uttar Pradesh, work was paralysed in the 7,000 branches of state-owned banks as about 30,000 employees went on strike.

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