The joint forum of central trade unions on Monday said that bandh-like situation prevailed in at least eight states due to the nationwide strike against various policies of the government. The two-day strike began on Monday.
"There is a bandh-like situation in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Assam, Haryana and Jharkhand," the forum said in a statement. According to the forum, agitations were held in many industrial areas across states like Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.
Security workers in Sikkim went on strike. Besides, workers in industrial areas in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir also joined the strike, it added. The forum said that around 50,000 employees picketed central government offices at 300 places in Tamil Nadu and that staff from the income tax department also joined the nationwide protest.
Even fishermen did not venture into the sea in the morning, it claimed. Farmers in rural areas also mobilised pressing for their demands. Apart from opposing privatisation in any form, the trade unions' demands include the scrapping of the proposed changes in labour laws and the national monetisation pipeline. Increased allocation of wages under MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and regularisation of contract workers are also part of their demands.
Apart from the ten central trade unions — INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC — the joint forum also includes independent sectoral federations and workers' associations. The forum said that more than 20 crore workers from across the country came out to protest on Monday.
It also claimed that many employees in banks and insurance companies did not report at their workplaces while those engaged in coal, steel, postal, oil, copper, telecom sectors also participated in the strike. Electricity department workers went on strike in all the states, including Maharashtra where the government had invoked ESMA, it said.
Kerala state unions began the strike from midnight of March 28 itself. Employees of railways and defence departments are reported to have organised demonstrations at more than one thousand places across the country, the statement added. According to the forum, anganwadi, ASHA, mid-day meal and domestic workers, construction, beedi and agricultural workers and hawkers-vendors participated in road and rail blockades in various parts of the country.
Transport workers in Haryana began their strike by picketing depots from early morning of March 28 in defiance of the Essential Services and Management Act (ESMA) imposed by the state, the forum said. However, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said the strike called by a joint forum of trade unions has been a "total flop" in the informal sector.