All-India strike hits financial sector, transport
New Delhi/Mumbai: India's financial sector was crippled and transport hit as large parts of the country ground to a halt Wednesday in response to trade unions calling for a two-day strike to demand concrete measures to check inflation, ensure jobs and enforce labour laws.
Day one of the nationwide protest saw trains stopped in some places like Bihar and roads blocked elsewhere but it was all mostly peaceful, with the exception of violence in Uttar Pradesh's Noida and Greater Noida areas, close to the national capital, where mobs attacked factories and set fire to vehicles.
In Ambala, a Haryana Roadways employee was killed accidentally Wednesday when he came under the wheels of a bus as authorities tried to forcibly ply services.
The banking sector was the worst hit in the strike called by 11 major trade unions including the ruling Congress' Indian Trade Union Congress (INTUC). The strike impacted normal life across wide swathes of India. The charter of demands include concrete measures for containing inflation, steps for employment generation, universal social security and making the minimum wage Rs.10,000 per month along with daily allowance.
The protest, ahead of the budget session of parliament that is likely to see Manmohan Singh government cornered by the opposition on a range of issues, found wide resonance. Around one million bankers struck work, affecting the clearance of around four million cheques valued around Rs 25,000 crore, estimated C.H. Venkatachalam, general secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA).