Bengaluru: Normal life will be affected on Wednesday across Karnataka in view of the day-long shut down called by trade unions in protest against the government’s anti-labour policies and in support of their demands, a union leader said. “About 15 lakh (1.5 million) workers, including employees of public and private sector enterprises, banks, insurance firms and labourers in diverse sectors, are participating in the strike across the state,” Karnataka’s CITU general secretary S. Prasanna Kumar said. As all employees of state-run and private transport corporations, members of taxi and auto unions have agreed to join the strike, buses, taxis and autos will be off roads in cities and towns across Karnataka, especially in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubballi, Hassan, Belagavi and Kalaburgi.
“Though it is a 24 hour strike for us (trade unions), transport workers have assured us they will not ply vehicles, including buses, cabs and autos from dawn-to-dusk (6 a.m.-6 p.m.) in cities and towns as they are also against the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014, as it is draconian, anti-labour and regressive,” Kumar asserted. The unions, however, exempted movement and supply of essential commodities, including milk, vegetables, groceries, hospitals, nursing homes and ambulances from the strike. “We expect schools and colleges to remain closed in the absence of public and private transport, and hope private firms also extend support to our cause,” Kumar added. About 50,000 bank employees, including about 20,000 in Bengaluru, are also participating in the all-India shut down. “All employees of state-run, regional, rural, cooperative banks working in about 4,000 branches across the state will be on strike,” Bank Employees’ Federation of India (Karnataka) general secretary Ratnakar Shenoy said. Though officers of all banks, including the State Bank group are not participating in the strike, they are extending support to the employees in support of their demands, besides expressing solidarity with labour unions.
“We are participating in the strike to protest against the government’s anti-labour policies through new amendments, increasing privatization, outsourcing and contracts, FDI policy, lowering state holding in public sector banks up to 33 percent from 51 percent in some nationalized banks,” Shenoy said. About a lakh employees and workers from across the state will assemble at Town Hall in the city centre to participate in a massive protest demonstration organised by various central and state trade unions. Members of 10 trade unions and their affiliated labour organisations have called for the day-long strike after many rounds of talks failed on ensuring Rs.15,000 minimum wages and social benefits for millions of workers in the organised sector.