City residents, including students, may face trouble during the nationwide Bharat bandh called by trade unions on February 20 and 21.
While the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), the parent body of various employee and transport unions in the country, on Wednesday announced it would support the nationwide strike, the city’s biggest taxi union said it wouldn’t participate in the bandh.
“This is an industrial bandh and we will not be a part of it,” said AL Quadros, Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
However, Sharad Rao, president of the HMS as well as the Mumbai Rickshawmen's Union, said that all unions affiliated to the HMS, including municipal corporations, civic bus services, autos, hawkers and commodity markets, would strike work.
This could mean that more than one lakh BMC employees, including fire brigade staff, drivers, hospital staff, nurses and ward boys, 7.5 lakh autorickshaw, 50,000 taxi drivers, 40,000 BEST undertaking staff, and 3lakh hawkers and traders may stay off work.
Thampi Kurien, chief, Mumbai Rickshawmen’s Union, said they won’t support the bandh.
“Our autos will continue to ply,” he said.
The BEST administration also assured that services would run as usual.
“We will ensure 100% attendance,” said Virendra Bagul, PRO, BEST.
The nationwide strike, called by the Central Trade Unions, Organisations and Federations, will clash with the HSC exams in the state.
“We have requested the state government to postpone the exams as the bandh can cause inconvenience to students,” said Rao.
The central trade union body is demanding the rollback of retail FDI, minimum wage for all categories of workers, eight-hour working days, among other demands.
“We have also asked the state and the BMC to withdraw all surcharges and local taxes on petrol, diesel, CNG and LPG,” said Rao, adding: “We have asked the BEST staff to participate.”
On February 18, members of HMS will gather at Maharashtra High School Maidan, Delisle Road, and march to Azad Maidan, demanding that necessary steps be taken to control inflation in food prices.
The Mumbai Autorickshawmen's Union plans to hold a rally at the transport commissioner office in Bandra on Thursday.