In response to the two-day nationwide strike called by 10 central trade unions, workers across the country have hit the streets sine the wee hours of Tuesday, January 8. According to reports, more than 20 crore people are expected to strike work against the anti-labour, anti-people and anti-national policies of the BJP-led NDA government.
Reports from various states show that the strike is quite visible in almost every state. Unions from various sectors – including banking, insurance, coal and non-coal mines, petroleum, post, telecom, engineering, manufacturing, steel, defence, health, education, water management and projects, power, road transport, central and state government employees and auto-taxi unions are actively taking part in the nationwide strike.
In Kerala, the strike has been near total and peaceful so far. Public transportation remained off roads and workers across the state took to streets to demonstrate peacefully for their rights. In various parts of the state including Alappuzha, Thiruvanthapuram and Ernakulam, train services have been blocked by the protesters.
Workers on their way to the Cochin Export Processing Zone and at the Cochin Port were stopped by the protesters. All university examinations slated for the day have been postponed and educational institutions have been closed. However, private vehicles have been seen plying. Pilgrims to Sabarimala have also been allowed to proceed from all places.
Senior CPI-M Rajya Sabha member and veteran trade union leader Elamaram Kareem told media, "The labourers at all the estates in the state are on strike. This is a protest against the wrong policies of the Centre and it should not be confused to that of a shutdown (hartal).”
The two-day nationwide strike received a mixed response in Tamil Nadu on the first day, said a senior leader of the Labour Progressive Federation (LPF). The response to the strike was positive from the unorganised sector like construction workers and others.
"Members of our affiliated unions have not attended duty. Nearly 50 per cent of the bus services in Chennai are not plying. In other cities, about 30-40 per cent buses are on the roads operated by members of the ruling party union," LPF General Secretary M. Shanmugam told IANS.
Rail-blockades in many railway stations and sporadic incidents across West Bengal districts partially hit normal life as the two-day nationwide strike began in the state. Train services were disrupted both in Howrah and Sealdah division of the Eastern Railway and also South Eastern Railway.
The strike supporters put up rail blockades and clashed with the police in many stations in the suburbs in South 24 Parganas district's Lakhikantapur, Canning; North 24 Pargana's Madhaygram, Hasnabad and Barasat.
However, reports show that Trinamool Congress members have attacked the protesting workers and trade union leaders in many parts of the state. The state police resorted to lathi charge on the protesting workers in Asansol. Trade union leaders including CITU state secretary Anadi Sahu have been arrested in Kolkata.
Tripura has also witnessed a complete shutdown during the early hours of the strike.
In Odisha, Maharashtra and Assam, buses and autorickshaws in several cities remained off roads. They also blocked tracks at several railway stations that affected the movement of trains in the state. Besides, many shops and business establishments remained closed at various places in the state.
Meanwhile, the Left Members of Parliament have demonstrated in front of the Parliament in support of the general strike and striking workers.