Bhubaneswar: The 48-hour nationwide strike called by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) entered second day affecting vehicular movement across Odisha today.
Movement of vehicles, especially heavy ones, came to a grinding halt in major cities and towns of the state. Commuters faced severe inconvenience due to the bandh while many passengers remained stranded at bus stands as buses remained off the roads.
The agitators staged road blockade at various places and resorted to rail roko at several railway stations, thereby affecting movement of trains. Schools, colleges and universities in several districts in Odisha have been closed in view of the bandh.
They obstructed train services in Bhubaneswar, Balasore, Berhampur, Cuttack and many other places in the state. The agitators were seen picketing in Bhubaneswar. However, many vehicles were plying without any hassles in the capital city.
The protesters also staged picketing at various public sector undertakings and offices.
Collectors of Khordha, Jagatsinghpur, Ganjam, Sambalpur, Sundergarh, Balangir, Kendrapara, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Bargarh, Boudh, Rayagada, Gajapati, Malkangiri, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal, Puri, Kandhamal, Nuapada, Keonjhar and Cuttack districts have announced closure of schools, colleges, universities and anganwadi centres.
Notably, the trade unions are protesting against the alleged “anti-labour, anti-people and anti-national policies” of the Narendra Modi government. In a press release, the CITU said the BJP government had made “desperate attempts” to make “gross pro-employer changes in labour laws” ignoring the viewpoints of trade unions.
“Unilaterally and through arbitrary notification on fixed term employment through executive order on the one hand and through gradual replacement of workers by apprentices in various establishments on the other, the very concept of regular employment and job security is being sought to be wiped out from the workplaces,” it said.
“Now the Cabinet has come out with amendments in the Trade Union Act, 1926, which are irrational, highly discretionary and extremely damaging to the independent functioning of unions. It is designed with the dubious intention to cripple unions, to promote pocket unions or tout unions.”
The CITU also took a dig at the FDI policy, saying it was aimed at “looting the national assets and resources on the one hand and destruction of country’s economic base on the other”.
The trade unions demanded fulfilment of a 12-point charter of demands including inflation control, minimum wages, social security schemes, stalling privatisation of government enterprises, discontinuation of foreign investments in railways, banks and insurance sectors and jobs for unemployed youths among others.