WORK WAS affected in factories, Central Government organisations and a large number of banks, post offices and branches of insurance companies in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, as rallies and road blockades marked the daylong nationwide strike called by Left-affiliated unions.
While the Communist Party of India (CPI) staged a demonstration and burnt an effigy of the “Union Government’s economic policies” in the City, the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) took out a rally from Yadgar-e-Shahjahani Park and were arrested by the police on their way to block rail movement (rail roko andolan).
Addressing the gathering, CITU’s State president Pramod Pradhan and general secretary Badal Saroj said the wide response to the strike call showed that the working class has opposed the Centre’s policies. “We would continue our agitation against government’s policy to hand over nation’s property to multinational companies,” he stated.
Claiming that the strike was “90 per cent successful” in the State, union leaders said it received large support from labourers in the unorganised sector who took part in rallies.
The Bhopal unit of the CPI raised slogans against the ‘capitalist forces and MNCs’ and government’s role in promoting them. According to the CITU, the strike was also observed by workers at industrial units in Pithampur, Malanpur, Indore and Dewas, who organised rallies and demonstrations.
There was mixed response to the strike at the Capital’s premier industrial area — Mandideep. While the industries at Mandideep remained operational, the branches of the banks and insurance companies kept away from functioning. CITUU’s State unit organised a demonstration and public meet in the area, which was participated by the industrial workers and labourers.
Six members of the All India Defence Employees’ Federation were allegedly injured in the attack and police action, Badal Saroj alleged.
Saroj accused some BJP leaders of attempting to shelter those involved in the alleged attack and demanded the registration of cases against them.
Union leaders claimed over one lakh workers at three coalmines in the State had joined the strike called to protest the Centre’s economic and industrial policies, affecting work at National Fertilizer Ltd (NFL) near Guna.
Responding to the call given by the MP Rajya Nigam Mandal Karmachari Mahasangh, the Central Government employees staged a demonstration at Panchanan Bhawan in the City.
The union leaders demanded that the interest rate on provident fund be fixed at 9.5 per cent, privatisation move be stopped, appointments be made on compassionate ground and outsourcing be banned. The MP-CG Medical & Sales Representatives’ Union took out a rally raising slogans to press their demands.
Mild skirmishes were reported during a protest at the ordnance factory in Jabalpur where union leaders alleged they were attacked by anti-social elements. The trade unions claimed that farmers joined hands with the unions and staged rallies and road blockades in Ratlam, Morena and Shahdol.
As many as 8,500 union workers courted arrests during protests in Bhopal, Jabalpur, Rewa, Indore, Ujjain, Gwalior, Morena, Guna, Sehore, Sagar and Chhindwara, they claimed.
Police maintained vigil across the state in view of the protest rallies and the day passed off peacefully with no reports of untoward incidents, officials said.