Thursday, May 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Stir hits bank, other services
PM to hold meeting with trade unions

Bank workers chant slogans in front of a bank
Bank workers chant slogans in front of a bank in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI photo
Banks remained deserted during the strike
Banks remained deserted during the strike of the employees at Bathinda on Wednesday. — — Photo Kulbir Beera.

New Delhi, May 21
The day-long nation-wide strike call given by the Left-led trade unions against the Centre’s economic policies today left banking and insurance services totally paralysed while evoking a mixed response in some other areas like oil, fertiliser, port and other central sector operations.

The union leaders claimed that about 40 million workers from banks, insurance, PSUs and other key sectors participated in the strike.

More than 5,000 workers were arrested while the police resorted to a baton-charge at 16 places in various places of the country as the agitationists joined the 24-hour strike in support of their eight-point charter of demands, including a halt to privatisation of profit-making PSUs and maintaining status quo on labour laws.

In Mumbai, the industrial hub, workers took to the streets, agitating against the government’s labour policies.

In West Bengal, normal life was thrown out of gear even while no major untoward incident was reported. In the South, the strike evoked mixed response in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka while it was good in Communist bastion Kerala.

While the Indian Airlines operated several flights to and from the metropolis, private sector Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines kept their operations suspended for the day, airport sources said.

Normal loading and unloading operations at various docks of the Kolkata Port Trust were also affected due to the strike. In Mumbai, too, port and dock workers joined the 24-hour strike.

However, domestic and international flights operated as per schedule.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will soon call a meeting of trade union leaders, including those of INTUC and BMS, to discuss the issues of concern to workers, Union Labour Minister Dr Sahib Singh Verma said today.

While refuting the allegation of the Left-affiliated trade unions, that sponsored today’s all-India industrial strike, claiming that Mr Vajpayee had no time for discussing workers’ issues, Dr Verma said this was not true.

“When I impressed upon the Prime Minister on Monday to hold discussions with the trade union leaders, Mr Vajpayee wanted to know if the exercise would persuade union leaders to call of their strike,’’ Dr Verma clarified.

He also dismissed allegations that the government was not serious about the issues concerning the workers and said a Bill on social security for workers in the unorganised sector had already been hammered out. TNS, Agencies



Strike paralyses bank services
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, May 21
Hundreds of workers and employees of trade unions, including AITUC, and CITU, observed a strike here today in protest against the alleged anti-worker policies of the NDA government. Employees of banks, insurance companies, the Railways, Telecom, departments of Posts, Electricity, Transport, public works the FCI and the municipal corporation marched to Putilghar Chowk, where a massive rally held. The strike was in response to a call by trade unions.

PHAGWARA: Bank services here were paralysed on Wednesday as about 500 employees of about 50 bank branches observed a strike and held a rally in protest against the alleged anti-employee policies of the Union Government.

BATALA: Employees of all banks and insurance companies of Batala held a rally at the main bus stand here against the Central Government policies.

HISAR: Bank employees on Wednesday remained on strike in support of their demands. The agitators gathered in front of their offices and raised slogans against the Central Government. Their leaders termed the BJP-led NDA government as anti-employees.

HAMIRPUR: Employees of banks, the LIC and the GIC on Wednesday took part in the day-long strike against the alleged anti-labour policies of the Central Government. The striking employees held a massive rally at Gandhi Chowk.

KULU: All nationalised banks remained closed on Wednesday in response to the strike call in the district. Gate meetings were organised by the staff at Kulu, Manali, Bhuntar and Banjar. The HP Sanchar Nigam Executive Association also supported the strike call.

YAMUNANAGAR: Bank employees held a demonstration in front of the main branch of Punjab National Bank here. They warned the government against privatisation and making anti-labour amendments to labour laws.

JALANDHAR: The Nationwide strike call given by the trade unions representing employees of various public and private sector bodies evoked an good response as the normal functioning in all branches of nationalised banks remained paralysed here.

SHIMLA: Work in banks and insurance companies in Himachal Pradesh remained paralysed in response to the nationwide strike called by trade and labour organisations in protest against the economic policies of the Centre.

SRINAGAR: Work in banks and insurance companies in the Kashmir Valley was paralysed due to the nationwide strike called by the public sector enterprise unions in protest against the alleged anti-working class policies of the Centre.

SANGRUR: A large number of members of various employees’ organisations, led by Mr Sukhdev Singh Barri, state president of the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, staged a dharna and blocked roads leading to Barnala, Sunam, Dhuri and Sangrur town at Mahavir Chowk.

Another dharna was staged at a chowk near the main bus stand here under the leadership of AITUC and CITU. Employees of the PRTC, the PSEB, banks and other departments participated in these protests.

NAWANSHAHR: Activists of various Left organisations and employee unions observed a strike, organised rallies and blocked traffic here as part of the nationwide strike call in protest against the Central Government policies. Mr Raghunath Singh, general secretary, CITU, Punjab, claimed that about 10,000 labourers working in various factories in the district observed a complete strike.

Employees of about 40 telephone exchanges falling under Nawanshahr and Banga SDCA, on the call given by BSNL NFTE, Punjab circle, observed a complete strike.

Reports of protests were also received from Palampur, Nahan, Kaithal, Gurdaspur, Paonta Sahib, Sirsa, Ropar, Dharamsala, Pathankot, Nurpur, Tarn Taran and Kangra.Back

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