Normal life was disrupted here on Wednesday due to the nationwide strike call of the central trade unions in support of their various demands, including steps to control price-rise and strict enforcement of labour laws.
The worst-hit sectors were public transport and banking.
Addressing a gathering of officers and employees of the State Bank of Patiala outside the bank, general secretary of State Bank of Patiala unit of the Associate Bank Officers' Association Parmod Sharma said, "Steps are afoot to grant licences to industrial and corporate houses to start their own private banks. Employee unions will not tolerate this privatization of banking sector," he said.
"What type of economic reforms are these? In 20 years (since 1991 when reforms started), the chasm between the poor and rich has widened. Poor has become poorer, inflation has touched new heights and common man is struggling to meet both ends. The liberalisation has helped only the MNCs, which gets tax benefits, easy money, waiver of loans etc….We want people-centric policies," Sharma said.
The CITU, AITUC leaders also held massive rallies outside the offices of different government departments, including power corporation, telecom and postal.
The public transport was affected badly, especially the inter-state services, where Punjab Roadways dominate the scene. "We are waiting since morning to board a bus for New Delhi," said Harinder Singh, a passenger at bus stand.
Sangrur: The call of complete shutdown strike for two days by different trade unions was well received by employees of different departments on the first day of the strike on Wednesday in Sangrur.
The employees of nationalised banks, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), telecom department, postal and insurance departments abstained from work.
The employees under banner of different trade unions carried out protest marches against the central and state governments' 'anti-employee' policies.
Besides a number of employees unions, members of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and Bharti Mazdoor Sangh participated in the protest.
The government buses remained off the road, putting the commuters to a lot of inconvenience. Huge rush could be witnessed at bus stops due to shortage of buses. No private or government bus was allowed to enter the local bus stand.
"I have been waiting or past one hour but no bus has come till yet. Finally, I have called my father to pick me from bus stand," said Rupinder Kaur, a student of Ranbir college.
Satwant Singh, district president of AITUC, said both Central and state governments had created tough conditions for the workers through their 'anti-employee' policies.
"Inflation, FDI in retail, unemployment were some of the burning issues, which affect the common man directly or indirectly," he said.
Hundreds of bank employees under banner of United Forum of Bank Union held a protest in front of the main branch of State Bank of Patiala.