Banking services were partially hit in Gujarat on Wednesday due to the nationwide strike called by 10 central trade unions to protest against the Central government's "anti-labour" policies. Transport services are absolutely normal across the state while offices of various business establishments also remained open. Although trade unions claimed that factory production was hit in many parts of Gujarat, industrialists said it was business as usual.
"Banking services in Gujarat were partially hit as employees associated with All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA) joined the strike," said Dhiraj Desai, general secretary of Bank of Baroda Employees Union. As a result, some nationalised banks are either shut or are only partially functional, he added.
However, the strike has had no impact on the operations of the State Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and Bank of Baroda in the state, as majority of the employees of these banks are associated with other unions, which have not joined the strike, he said. While some employees of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) joined the strike, operations were running smoothly in all the major offices across Gujarat, a senior LIC official said.
Meanwhile, leaders from the farming community stated that farmers have also stayed away from the Bharat bandh. "Hardly any farmer or any organisation working for them have joined the strike," Sagar Rabari of Khedut Ekta Manch said. Senior trade union leader Amrish Patel claimed that industrial production was hit in the state due to the strike. However, industrialists have refuted the claim.
"I have not come across a single incident of strike today. All factories and services are running without any interruption in Gujarat. Strike has not impacted businesses," said Bhavesh Lakhani, executive committee member of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In West Bengal, trade unions affiliated to Left and other parties called for a bandh against the economic policies of the BJP-led government at the Centre. However, the state government said it will not support any bandh. "The Ministry of Labour has failed to assure any of the demands of workers which called a meeting on January 2, 2020. The attitude of the government is that of contempt towards labour as we construe from its policies and actions," the 10 CTUs said in a joint statement.
"We expect the participation of not less than 25 crores of working people in the forthcoming National General Strike on January 8, 2020, to be followed by many more actions seeking reversal of the anti-worker, anti-people, anti-national policies of the Government," it said.
The central government, meanwhile, has asked public sector undertakings to dissuade their employees from participating in the 'Bharat Bandh' called on Wednesday and advised them to prepare a contingency plan to ensure smooth functioning of the enterprises.
Meanwhile, in Kerala, the trade unions exempted the state's tourism sector from Wednesday's general strike. Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society hailed as "exemplary" the decision by political parties and trade unions to exempt the state's tourism sector from Wednesdays general strike. "Any employee going on strike in any form, including protest, would face the consequences which, besides deduction of wages, may also include appropriate disciplinary action," said an office memorandum issued by the government. "Suitable contingency plan may also be worked out to carry out the various functions of the ministry/department," it added.