New Delhi, Kolkata: Nine major trade unions called for a 24-hour long nationwide bandh on Tuesday to protest against price rise and other issues like disinvestment of public sector, retrenchment and entry of foreign capital in retail market.
Bengal and Kerala were the worst hit due to the strike; impact was seen in Manipur and Assam Maharashtra too. But in most other parts of India, there wasn't much effect.
More than a 100 flights to and from Kolkata were cancelled by major carriers. (Read: Kolkata bandh on Tuesday, over 100 flights cancelled)
Jet Airways (along with its low cost carrier Jetlite) cancelled 70 flights in all, Kingfisher cancelled 29 and Spicejet and Indigo cancelled 20 flights each. (Read: Kingfisher Airlines update on flights)
Air India rescheduled several flights; there may be cancellations as well.
There were very few taxis and cars on the roads. Most school and colleges were closed; offices saw thin attendance. (Read: Strike hits normal life in Kerala, West Bengal)
There was huge police presence in some part of the city where CPM and Trinamool workers came out in protest, shouting slogans. (Watch: Bandh paralyses Kolkata)
The bandh was effective across the state.
According to reports there's a near total shut-down in Kerala with normal life completely disrupted. Educational institutions and offices were closed, very few no buses were plying.
All shops, business establishments and markets were closed in Manipur. Even educational institutions were shut. Passenger buses stopped their services.
The 24-hour long nationwide bandh called by nine major trade unions also hit Assam, where all public transport was off the roads. (Watch: No public transport in Assam, Manipur)
Over one lakh auto rickshaws and thousands of taxis across Mumbai went on strike in protest against the price rise of essential commodities. A few city-based taxi and auto rickshaw unions decided to lend support to the nationwide strike.
Operations of the BEST buses, State Transport buses and local trains however remained unaffected.
Normal life was affected in Orissa due to disruption of transport services and closure of financial institutions in the wake of the nationwide strike called by central trade unions.
Tuesday's strike comes just two months after the BJP brought the country to a stand-still in July with its Bharat bandh call against escalating prices.
Banking services were also affected at several places as the federations of bank employees joined the strike.
The Railways, however, was kept out of the purview of the strike as Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee opposed the strike. The Left Front was supporting the strike called by the trade unions but urged people to keep it peaceful.
"Nearly six crore workers will participate in the strike across the country. Those employed in private sector will also join the strike in many places," All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) General Secretary and CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta said.
"AITUC, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), AIUTUC, TUCC, AICCTU, UTUC and federations of different categories of workers and employees will participate in the general strike, which has been called by Coordination Committee of Central Trade Unions headed by Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) President G Sanjeeva Reddy," he said.
"This is going to be biggest strike that ever happened in recent years in this country as after 63 years all the trade unions have come together on a common platform," Dasgupta claimed.
All the "branches of economy" will be affected due to strike as workers from sectors including coal, power, telecom, banks, insurance, defence, port and dock, road transport, petroleum and construction will join the call, he said.
Trade unions earlier had drawn up a five-point charter "asking the government to curb the price rise but nothing was done," he charged.
"The trade unions have been agitating against disinvestment of public sector. They (trade unions) are angry because labour laws are being violated," he said.
Trade unions want massive investment for social security for unorganised labourers. "We are also protesting against job loss and contractualisation of jobs in the country," he added.
Dasgupta said that the strike will not be the "last thing". If the situation does not improve, workers will march to Parliament in February next year.
"Trade unions cannot be marginalised. They must be heard. We want social justice, reasonable share of the wealth workers produce. That's all," he added.
BJP-affiliate Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), however, kept itself away from the strike call.
"BMS is not participating in the strike as it is politically motivated and not for the welfare of workers," vice president of Delhi unit of the union Kiran Dutta said. (With PTI inputs)