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Bharat bandh hits normal life in Odisha

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 2:

Vehicular traffic and train services were affected in Odisha this morning following a 12-hour Bharat bandh call by 12 trade unions.

Trade Union activists picketing at Bhubaneswar railway station.
Trade Union activists picketing at Bhubaneswar railway station.

As many as 12 central trade unions including INTUC, AITUC, CITU and Bharat Hind Mazdoor Sangh have given the strike call over a 12-points charter of demands, including withdrawal of the proposed anti-worker amendments in labour laws and stopping the disinvestment and privatisation of PSUs.

In Bhubaneswar, the trade union activists blocked roads in major locations by burning tyres demonstrated in front of various banks and corporate houses. Besides, the agitators also picketed at the city railway stations and detained Puri-Bikaner Express, Bhubaneswar-Bolangir Inter City Express, and Duronto Express.

The trade union activists also stated demonstration in front of Nalco corporate office at Jayadev Vihar while some trade union activists took out a rally in the city shouting slogans against the Centre.

Tension ran high when some people attacked the trade union activists while they were demonstrating in front of the Accountant General (AG) office. Sources said three trade union activists were injured in the attack.

Tension prevailed in the district headquarters town of Phulbani following a scuffle between a butcher and supporters of the bandh, our correspondent Simanchal Pattanaik reports. The butcher has sustained injuries on his head following the scuffle.

The incident occurred when supporters of the bandh owing allegiance to AITUC, INTUC, HMS and Nirman Shramik Sangh, had a scuffle with a butcher who had kept his shop open at a Madikunda Chhak here. In the ensuing scuffle, the butcher sustained bleeding injuries on his head. The butcher has been admitted to a hospital.

Law and order has been tightened in the town and police patrolling intensified after the incident.

Reports from Sambalpur said the trade union activists detained Sambalpur-Puri Inter City Express train at Khetrajpur railway station for about half an hour. Besides, vehicular traffic also came to a grinding halt. Over hundreds of vehicles were seen stranded on the National Highway.

In Baleswar, the agitators staged rail roko and blocked roads. All trading and business establishments also remained closed due to the bandh.

In Nayagarh, the trade union activists blocked the National Highway-57 and stopped plying of buses and other heavy vehicles. All private schools, filling stations and trading establishments were also closed.

Besides, the bandh had similar effects in Brahmapur, Puri, Cuttack, Bhadrak, Jaleswar, Angul, Jagatsinghpur, Paradip, Jajpur and Kandhamal.

The demands of the trade unions are urgent measures to contain price-rise through universalisation of public distribution system and ban on speculative trade in commodity market, contain unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation, strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption and stringent punitive measure for violation for labour laws, universal social security cover for all workers, minimum wages of not less than Rs 15,000 per month with provisions of indexation, assured enhanced pension not less than Rs 3000 per month for the entire working population, stoppage of disinvestment in Central and state PSUs, stoppage of contracts in permanent perennial work and payment of same wage and benefits for contract workers as regular workers for same and similar work, removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus, provident fund; increase the quantum of gratuity, compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of submitting applicationsand immediate ratification of ILO Convention C 87 and C 98, no amendments in Labour Law  and no FDI in Railways, Insurance and Defence.