Two-day nationwide Bharat Bandh: Protesters sat on train tracks in Kerala
New Delhi: The two-day Bharat Bandh called by ten trade unions disrupted normal life in many parts of the country today. Sporadic violence was reported in West Bengal, Odisha and Kerala. Tyres were burnt and buses were vandalised at many places in Bengal. Protesters blocked roads and obstructed train services in all the three states. Around 20 crore workers of the Central Trade Unions (CTU) are participating in the two-day nationwide strike today and tomorrow. Trade unions are protesting alleged anti-worker policies of the Central government.
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- Trinamool Congress and CPM workers clashed in Kolkata, Asansol and Hooghly districts in West Bengal. The police had to lathicharge to disrupt the mob in Asansol.
- A school bus was vandalised in Barasat, around 30 kilometres from Kolkata. There were two students in the bus but weren't hurt. Buses were vandalised in Asansol and Hooghly as well. Train services were disrupted in Jadavpur, Sodepur, Rishra and Uttarpara.
- Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her government is opposed to any bandh. "We have taken a stand of not supporting any bandh. Enough is enough. In the last 34 years, they (Left Front) have destroyed the state by calling bandh," Ms Banerjee said today.
- In Odisha, trade union CTU members protested and blocked roads in Bhubaneswar. Protesters also blocked the National Highway 16 and burnt tyres. In Kerala, protesters sat on the railway tracks and raised slogans alleging the Central government's anti-people policies. Very few state buses were seen on the roads in state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
- In east Delhi, members of the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) were out on the streets, protesting privatization of government sector businesses. Protesters raised slogans demanding minimum wages and social security.
- In Mumbai, over 32,000 employees of Mumbai's civic transport went on an indefinite strike to demand higher wages. The protest, which coincided with the trade unions' strike, affected nearly 25 lakh daily commuters.
- One of the major demands of the trade unions is enactment of the Social Security Act and setting minimum wages at Rs. 24,000 for the unorganised transport sector.
- Trade union leaders alleged that the government has "failed to create jobs and grossly ignored" the 12-point charter of demands, which includes minimum wages and social security schemes. Farmers' groups affiliated with the Left parties have threatened to call gramin hartal protesting the Centre's failure to address rural distress.
- Workers from sectors such as telecom, health, education, coal, steel, electricity, banking, insurance and transport are supporting the strike. Farmers and students' groups have also supported the strike.
- On Wednesday, the protesters have planned to march from Mandi House to Parliament and similar marches will be held across the country, said trade union leaders. The unions alleged that suggestions on labour codes were given to the government but they were rejected.
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