Bengal industry partially affected by strike
Kolkata, Feb 21 : West Bengal was partially affected Thursday on the final day of the two-day nationwide strike, called by 11 central trade unions. Transport services returned to normal, but the state's industrial sector was partially hit.
With the West Bengal unit of the Marxist Centre of Indian Trade Unions deciding to observe Thursday only as an industrial strike, the impact of the protest was much less on normal life than on the first day of the 48-hour strike.
The strike has been called by 11 central trade unions to press for a ten-point charter of demands.
CITU said the move was made as Feb 21, the International Mother Tongue Day, is celebrated as 'Bhasha Divas' in West Bengal. The Congress-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) also stayed away from the stir in the state Thursday.
Transport services were normal, as this sector was kept out of the purview of the agitation. Private buses and taxis plied in large numbers on the roads.
Railway services were normal too, and there was no news of any disruption, Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway officials said.
Air India flights from the city's Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport operated as per schedule, official sources said.
Markets were kept open across the state, while some shops remained closed in some pockets.
However, banking services were crippled for the second day.
The bank strike, called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), in tandem with the 48-hour stir called by the 11 central trade unions, also continued for the second day.
Banking transactions across the state were paralysed as almost all branches remained closed and ATMs ran out of cash.
"Almost all bank branches were closed across the state. Most ATMs are also closed," UFBU convenor N.N. Bhattacharya told IANS.
Except for the Information Technology (IT) sector, industries were partially affected Thursday. "Industrial operations are more or less affected due to the strike," industry lobby Assocham co-chairman (East and North-East) Debmallya Banerjee told IANS.
Echoing Banerjee, Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BNCCI) secretary D.P. Nag said normal working was hampered in the industrial belts, where trade unions have strongholds.
At Barrackpore industrial area in North 24-Parganas district, normal activities were hit as workers in large numbers participated in the strike.
"About 30 percent of the total workforce in Asansol-Durgapore industrial belt (in Burdwan district) did not join duty Thursday," Federation of South Bengal Chambers of Commerce and Industry general secretary R.P. Khaitan said.
Darjeeling tea gardens, however, were unaffected. "We have not got any news of disruption in tea gardens," an Indian Tea Association (ITA) official said.