New Delhi: The nation is gearing up for yet another Bharat bandh. A two-day nationwide strike has been called by 11 trade unions over price rise and labour laws. Major sectors likely to be affected include banking, insurance, post, transportation and coal. Though the railways is expected to function normally.
The unions have decided to go ahead with the strike after talks with a government panel failed. They claim the government had nothing concrete to offer on any of their demands, which include steps to curb price rise, employment generation and enforcement of labour laws.
Though the labour ministry says a National Employment policy will be announced soon and will be discussed in the Cabinet.
In Delhi, commuters, particularly school children and office goers in the national capital may face inconvenience as a number of auto-rickshaws and taxi unions have decided to support the strike.
Supply of fruits and vegetables may also be affected as major trade unions in the Azadpur whole sale market have said that they will join the strike. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has instructed top officials of the administration to ensure that people in the city do not face any inconvenience during the two day strike.
She held a meeting with senior officials and issued necessary instructions. Five major auto-rickshaw and taxi unions announced that they will also join the strike to demand a hike in auto and taxi fares. A number of bus unions, including a section of Delhi Transport Corporation employees, have also extended support to the strike.
The Delhi government has cancelled leave of all DTC employees and asked senior officials of the corporation to be at bus depots from early morning to ensure a smooth running of the DTC bus service.
Delhi Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami said around 1,000 RTV (rural transport vehicles) and tourist buses will ply on DTC routes for next two days. "These buses have been allowed to ply on DTC routes under special service. The buses would display DTC route numbers and charge DTC fares," he said.
A statement from Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's office said all the major trade unions of DTC including DTC employees Congress, Delhi Parivehn Mazdoor Sangh, DTC Worker's Union and DTC Unity Center have agreed not to participate in the strike.
The strike may also affect the working of Municipal Corporations as some of the employees, particularly the cleaning staff, have said they also join the strike. Government officials said that non-medical staff at various state-run hospitals have also indicated joining the strike.
Normal life is likely to be crippled across India as workers from various sectors including transport and banking are set to join the protest against the Centre's economic and labour policies.
Apart from unions owing allegiance to the Left, the pro-Congress INTUC and pro-BJP BMS are also participating in the strike. The unions have put forward a charter of 10 demands.
(With additional information from PTI)