State-run buses services were affected in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh following the all-India strike call given by various trade organisations on Wednesday.
People faced problems as Haryana Roadways buses went off the roads. Employees of Punjab Roadways also joined the strike and stopped plying buses. “We are opposing the new labour laws. We have other local demands also, like our opposition to privatisation of bus routes,” Parveen Kumar, a Haryana Roadways employee, said.
The strike, however, did not have much impact on most of the public sector banks though Class 3 and 4 employees joined the strike.
"Banks are functioning. Only a section of employees have gone on strike today,” said Sanjeev Kumar, an official of State Bank of India in Chandigarh. Nursing staff in government-run hospitals and employees of a few other government establishments, however, joined the strike.
In Ludhiana, members of trade unions blocked the railway tracks at Giaspura, Dhandari Kalan, due to which two trains were delayed by more than one hour. Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC) and trade unions protested outside the Amar Shaheed Sukhdev Interstate Bus Terminal.
BANK STAFF STRIKE WORK
Public sector banks, barring State Bank of India, witnessed a complete strike in Chandigarh on Wednesday. Seven unions of bank employees went on strike in the city, disrupting services. Staff of private banks, however, did not participate in the strike.
Stranded in Shimla
The transporters’ strike affected the supply of daily needs such as milk and bread in Shimla. Tourists had to cancel their plans for Wednesday as taxis were not available. “We had planned to visit Narkanda and the surrounding areas of Shimla but out tour operator informed us that no cab would be available today. Now we will have to either spend the day on the Mall or stay back in hotel,” complained Karanjit Singh, a tourist from Bathinda.
Though a few schools were closed in the hill town, students of a majority of schools were either forced to stay home due to the strike or find alternative ways to commute. Junior students in Shimla use taxis to commute to and from school. "My daughter skipped school today because there was no transport facility," said Sandeep Chauhan, a resident of Sanjauli.
Himachal government offices and educational institutions were functioning normally and there was no report of violence anywhere in the state. The impact of the shutdown was more in major towns such as Shimla, Rampur, Theog, Solan, Mandi, Nahan, Una, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Dharamsala, Palampur, Kangra, Kullu and Manali as private bus operators also joined the protest.
Services of long route buses from Shimla were suspended for the day. Over 2,000 state roadways buses were off the road. An official of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation said more than 250 inter-state routes were hit due to the strike.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) also joined the strike in protest against "indifferent attitude" of the Himachal government towards the problems of the fruit growers.
Trade unions' strike has little affect in Jammu
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) workers suspended official work and State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) buses remained off the roads in Jammu in the wake of nationwide strike called by various trade unions against the proposed labour reforms and privatisations of the public sector units.
However, there was not much impact of the 24-hour strike in Jammu. The public transport, majority being run by private operators in J&K, was unaffected by the strike call. There was normal attendance in the state government departments and other PSU undertakings.
Rail and road traffic remained normal and all educational and business institutions remained open.
Strike has partial impact in Haryana
Public transport was partially affected in Haryana as workers' union on Wednesday joined the one-day nationwide strike call given by ten central trade unions, protesting against changes in labour laws.
Public transport at several places in Haryana was affected as employees of Haryana Roadways also went on strike.
Under the banner of Haryana Roadways Employees' Union, protesting employees even held rallies and demonstration at various places in the state.
A report from Hisar said that a large number of passengers were stranded in Hisar, Hansi, Uklana, Barwala, Adampur and other bus stands as the vehicles remained off the road.
However, electricity supply remained normal in Haryana and Chandigarh, though a large number of employees of electricity departments participated in the strike.
Meanwhile, banking services in public sector banks in Haryana and Chandigarh were also hit because of one-day strike. However, private sector banks remained open.
Bank unions such as AIBEA, AIBOA, BEFI, INBOC, NOBW, INBEF and NOBO are participating in the strike, said Punjab Bank Employees Federation, Secretary Naresh Gaur.
PASSENGERS HAVE TOUGH DAY IN ROHTAK
Thousands of passengers faced a tough day in Rohtak as all 204 buses of the Rohtak depot did not ply due to the strike of the Haryana Roadways Employees Union.
The roadways employees, especially the bus-conductors and drivers, sat idle at the waiting rooms of the city bus
stand, while the passengers were left stranded as the bus services were paralysed in district.
"This is not fair. The government should take tough stand against its employees who go on strikes regularly," said Ravinder, a BA II student while waiting outside the new bus stand here for alternative vehicles to reach his college.
However, taxis, auto-rickshaws and private bus operators made the most of the strike, asking for charges from commuters.
The strike caused great inconvenience to students, especially girls, who are entitled for free traveling in government buses.
"There are 18,000 bus pass holders in the district. They all had a tough time due to the strike," said a senior officer from the district roadway office.
The employees in most of the government offices of the Rohtak administration also boycotted the work and participated in the protest against the government.
However, there was no report of any untoward incident in the district and the strike passed off peacefully.
MIXED RESPONSE IN GT ROAD BELT
Haryana Roadways buses in Karnal and adjoining districts of Panipat, Kurukshetra and Yamunanagar were partially affected due to the lukewarm response to call of nationwide strike by various trade unions.
Similarly, other essential services provided by the Haryana government functioned without much public inconvenience in the GT Road belt.
According to official sources, Karnal depot of the state transport has 760 employees and only 86 drivers and conductors abstained from duty on Wednesday.
Billing and other public dealings in state power department, public health and other units remained normal in Karnal and adjoining districts.
Presence of employees at mini-secretariats was also normal.
Few agitating employees gathered at Karan Park as a mark of protest against centre government's policies.
However, banking in public sector was totally paralysed. Employees of most banks stayed away from work and ATMs at various public sector banks in the city ran out of money.
Police sources said that there was no report of any attempt to disrupt public services from the region.
ROADWAYS EMPLOYEES CONFRONT SDM IN SIRSA
In Sirsa, Haryana Roadways employees were camping at the bus stand since Tuesday night to stop buses from plying. There were tense moments when Sirsa SDM Paramjeet Singh Chahal reached the bus stand at around 2.20 am on Wednesday and tried to facilitate the movement of Sirsa-Chandigarh bus. The roadways employees lay down in front of the bus at the main gate of the bus stand and shouted slogans against the SDM. They did not let the bus ply.
The nursing staff in the Sirsa government hospital and employees of a few other government establishments also joined the strike.