Shutdown hits life in Karnataka

Bengaluru, Sep 2: The nation-wide shut down by trade unions on Wednesday affected normal life across Karnataka, as buses and autos did not ply, banks did not transact business and factories remained closed.

"The response to our shutdown call was overwhelming. Strike was total and peaceful across the state. Buses and autos kept off roads. Though banks were open, no transactions took place. State-run and private factories did not run," Karnataka's CITU general secretary S. Prasanna Kumar told IANS here. [Bharat Bandh Updates: As It Happened]


About 10,000 workers from diverse sectors assembled at Town Hall in the city centre and staged a massive demonstration against the government's anti-labour policies and attempts to privatise state-run enterprises and banks.

Protest rallies were also taken out to Freedom Park here from different parts of the city and leaders of 10 trade unions, including CITU president S.K. Nair, AITUC president Anantha Subbarao and Bank Employees' Federation of India general secretary Ratnakar Shenoy addressed the gathering amid tight security.

"Our main demands are the government should not take up anti-labour reforms, stop anti-people banking reforms, prevent loot of public money by corporate loan defaulters, declare willful default of bank loans as criminal offence and stop outsourcing of bank jobs to private agencies," Shenoy said.

With employees of the state-run transport corporations joining the strike, thousands of people were stranded in cities and towns across the state.

The state-run Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corp withdrew its airport service after a mob damaged a few buses by smashing their window panes with stones.

Though most three-wheeler auto-rickshaws remained off roads in Bengaluru and other cities, a few ferried commuters on main thoroughfares and suburbs, charging them exorbitantly.

Hundreds of passengers arriving at the three main railway stations in the city had a harrowing time in the absence of autos and buses. Commuters complained that taxis fleeced them by charging double the fare.

State and central government offices reported thin attendance in the absence of buses and autos, while banks, insurance firms and post offices were closed across the state.

About one lakh blue-collar employees of state-run HAL, BEL, BEML, BHEL, HMT and ITI across Bengaluru abstained from work in support of the demands and in protest against the government's "anti-labour policies".

Hundreds of factories and medium-cum-small-scale units in the Peenya industrial township were also closed as their workers joined the strike.

Fifteen platoons of the State Reserve Police were deployed in the city to maintain law and order

Movement and supply of essential commodities, including milk, vegetables, groceries, hospitals, nursing homes and ambulances were exempted from the strike.

Except officers and employees of the State Bank group, about 50,000 employees of other banks participated in the shutdown across the state.


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