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Banking services were partially impacted as a section of employees did not report for duty, news agency PTI reported. Transactions at many public sector banks were hit and delays were expected in cheque clearances. However, there was barely any impact on the functioning of most private sector banks
The impact of the strike is prominent in eastern India as many branches of public sector banks there are closed, All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) General Secretary CH Venkatachalam said. In the other regions, branches are open as officers are present but services are being impacted due to many employees participating in the strike, he said.
Bank unions are protesting against the government move to privatise two public sector banks as announced in this year's Union Budget. They are also demanding an increase in interest rate on deposits and reduction in service charges..
Roads in Left-ruled Kerala, where trade unions hold considerable sway, wore a deserted look, and only a few private vehicles could be seen. Buses run by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) were off the roads.
However, emergency services have been excluded from the strike. The Kerala High Court has also restrained five unions at the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) from participating. The police in the state have made arrangements for those who need emergency travel facilities to reach railway stations and hospitals.
In West Bengal, even though the trade unions could be seen protesting on the streets, the state government has asked all offices to remain open and ordered employees to report for duty. Members from the Left Front gathered in huge numbers and blocked railway tracks at the Jadavpur Railway Station in Kolkata.
The call for the nationwide strike was given by a joint forum of central trade unions, to protest against government policies affecting workers, farmers, and people. Other than the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), almost all other trade unions are participating in the strike, news agency ANI reported.
Amarjeet Kaur, All Indian Trade Union Congress General Secretary, told news agency PTI that they are expecting participation of over 20 crore formal and informal workers with mass mobilisation of workers across the country. Workers in the entire coal mining belt in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have joined the protest, she said.
The unions in railways and defence sector are also expected to mobilise in support of strike at several hundreds of spots. Roadways, transport workers and electricity workers have decided to join the strike besides those from sectors such as steel, oil, telecom, coal, postal, income tax, copper, and insurance.
The Power Ministry advised all the state-run utilities and other agencies to be on high alert and ensure round-the-clock electricity supply and stability of the national grid. Power supply to those engaged in essential services such as hospitals, defence, and railways must be ensured, the ministry's advisory said and suggested setting up of a 24x7 control room for information dissemination and handling any kind of contingency.
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