Bengaluru: The day-long strike by central and state trade unions on Friday has affected normal life in many cities across Karnataka as shops, markets, banks and factories were shut, and buses, taxis and autos kept off the roads.
In the absence of bus services and to avoid inconvenience to students, schools and colleges in seven of the 30 districts across the state, including Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hubbli-Dharwad, Mangaluru, Udupi, Kalaburgi and Belagavi have declared holiday.
"The response to our strike call has been good from across the state, as thousands of workers, including women and officers have boycotted work and are demonstrating against the government in support of our demands," a trade union leader told Indo-Asian News Service.
Essential services like ambulance, supply of drinking water and milk and private vehicles carrying commodities and vegetables have been exempted from the strike.
"Though all state-run, private, district and cooperative banks are closed, many of their ATMs (automatic teller machines) are functioning to enable people draw cash," AIBOC general secretary AN Krishna Murthy told IANS.
Suspension of state-run and private bus services on the intra-state and inter-state routes from many cities in the state has affected thousands of commuters, as drivers, conductors and their support staff joined the 12-hour dawn-to-dusk (6m to 6 pm).
Hundreds of passengers alighting from trains at three railway stations and airports in Bengaluru were caught unawares and are stranded since morning in the absence of buses, taxis and autos.
"Thousands of factory workers and officers in industrial areas like Peenya, Anekal, Bidadi and Jigani in the city's northwest and southwest suburbs, took out rallies and demonstrated against the anti-labour laws and indifference of the government to their demands.
The strike has, however, not affected the working of IT services and biotech firms in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru and Hubblali though their companies have hired in advance vehicles to ferry their employees.
In spite of the state government's offices remaining open, attendance was thin in the first hour in the absence of alternative transport for commuting from their houses.
Barring the Bharat Mazdoor Sangh, all central and state level trade unions are participating in the strike.
People residing in and around metro stations in the east-west corridor of Bengaluru are however, able to commute as the state-run organisation is operating its services.