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Trade union strike enters second day

Posted on Feb 21, 02:17PM | IBNS

New Delhi, Feb 21 : As the two-day nationwide strike called by several trade unions to protest anti-worker policies, labour law violations, inflation and fuel price hike of the government entered its second day on Thursday, normal banking operations were affected across the country including national capital New Delhi.

Public transport was also hit across the nation on the second and final day of the strike.

Public sector bank employees continued their strike while employees of public sector insurance companies also joined it, reports said.

Several ATMs have dried up in Mumbai on Thursday.

Meanwhile, at least 71 people were arrested and 64 First Information Reports (FIRs) have been registered in Noida where protesters torching vehicles on Wednesday.

Protesters set at least five vehicles on fire near a factory in Greater Noida.

The police are on high-alert in Noida where schools remained closed on the second day of the two-day nationwide strike.

Workers from different sectors, including banking and transport, continued to protest and did not join work in Kerala. Normal life in the state has been hit due to the strike.

In Lucknow city of Uttar Pradesh, people faced troubles on Thursday as public transport remained most unavailable.

In Karnataka, the strike had no major impact on the south Indian state but schools and colleges remained closed on Thursday.

Protesters stopped trains in Arah and Jehanabad stations in Bihar, reports said.

In West Bengal, markets in Kolkata partially opened on Thursday but other sectors like banks, industries and factories remained partially affected by the strike.

The strike on Wednesday had impacted partially West Bengal with fewer people venturing out and transport system hit in some places. Several shops in Kolkata had kept their shutters down too. But the bandh was no as successful as it used to be in the past years.

West Bengal chief Minister Mamata Banerjee later issued a statement on Wednesday expressing gratitude to people for not paying heed to 'bandh' call and maintaining normalcy across the State.

Banerjee slammed the taxi unions for putting the commuters into a mess by joining the strike.

"I was sorry to see the plight of commuters looking for taxis, all I would like to tell the Taxi unions is not to create problems for commuters or harass them. I would like to remind you that 'bandh' has been termed 'illegal 'by Supreme Court and High Court. Action can be initiated against you. I am happy that the Auto unions did not join the 'bandh' and are plying normally. I had a word with the members of Auto union at Behala, a short while back," the statement of the CM said.

Referring to the bandh on Thursday, she said, "I am hopeful that people will maintain same spirit tomorrow also and will maintain normalcy in the State. Tomorrow happens to be 'Bhasha Dibosh', the great day for people in Bengal and Bangladesh, I am confident that everything will be normal tomorrow also. I assure full cooperation on behalf of the State government to all those who did not listen to the 'bandh' call and remained open today."

Meanwhile, the West Bengal government has plied state-run buses to foil the strike. The government also ensured the state worked on Wednesday and Thursday with the adoption of a no work, no pay policy for the two-day strike.

State employees have been warned they will not be paid if they joined the strike.

Industry body ASSOCHAM on Wednesday said it feared that the loss to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be more than its initial estimates as almost 50 per cent of the economic activity has been hampered by the strike.

"In the wake of more than expected disruption, we estimate the loss to the GDP in today and tomorrow's Bandh to be in the region of Rs 25,000- Rs 26,000 crore - near 50 per cent of the economic activity," said head of the ASSOCHAM Economic Analysts Team.

ASSOCHAM reports from different parts of the country suggested that the banking sector was the worst hit followed by local transport. The small and big retail trade had less of footfalls.

The ASSOCHAM had earlier estimated the national loss figures based on the daily erosion of about 30-40 per cent to the country's GDP for two days. The disruption may go up to 50 per cent, it is feared.

As per the advanced estimates of the CSO, the national GDP for the current financial year is projected to be about Rs 95 lakh crore. In other words, it is Rs 26,000 crore per day and Rs 52,000 crore for two days.

Of this, the strike may now take its toll on at least 45-50 per cent to Rs 25,000 - Rs 26,000 crore, said ASSOCHAM.