Bengaluru, Jan 8 (IANS) The day-long shutdown by trade unions evoked poor response here on Wednesday. Hundreds of workers staged protests against the government’s anti-labour laws and privatisation of public sector units, an official said on Wednesday.
“The shutdown ended peacefully at 6 p.m. Schools, colleges, shops, hotels, theatres and malls remained open and public transport was plying normally,” a senior home department official told IANS.
Hundreds of workers of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and the Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) participated in the protests and abstained from work.
“Despite the police curbs and high-handedness, response to shutdown call was overwhelming as hundreds of our comrades gathered at the Freedom Park, boycotting work and staged demonstration against the government’s anti-labour policies and privatisation moves,” CITU president Anantha Subbarao told IANS.
Heavy security and heightened vigil across the city ensured law and order, but prevented protestors from holding rallies in public places or marching from Town Hall to Freedom Park, about 2km away at the city centre.
Many social and civic organisations, including a pro-Kannada front, supported the shutdown, but in protest against the CAA, NRC and NPR, and extended their solidarity to the trade unions and the working class.
“Hundreds of industrial units, garment factories, small and medium enterprises in Peenya, Jigani and Hoskote remained shut as workers abstained and staged demonstration in their areas.
Banking operations were affected as employees of many banks joined the strike. Staff of the State Bank of India and new-generation private lenders, like Axis Bank, however, didn’t join the shutdown.
“Pro-farmers organisations also supported the shutdown to highlight the agrarian crisis gripping the farm sector. Similarly, hundreds of workers in the unorganised sector joined the protest,” said Subbarao.
Agricultural markets, wholesale yards, Peenya industrial area and hundreds of SMEs, however, remained shut, affecting daily wage workers and employees.
When a few leaders tried to speak against the Citizen Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizen, workers forced them to confine their speeches to anti-labour policies.
Among the major demands of the trade unions are scrapping of the labour reform proposals, rise in minimum wages up to Rs 24,000 a month, and end of privatisation of public sector undertakings. Other demands are not to privatise railways and corporatise 49 defence production units and merge 44 labour laws into four codes.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress extended support to the shutdown call, urging party workers to take part in the protest.
“I call upon everyone to oppose the hostile polities of the Narendra Modi government and defend the rights of working class people,” tweeted Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee working president Eshwar Khandre.