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India gears up for two-day shutdown

Strike led by trade unions are protesting against privatisation and price rise

Gulf News

Mumbai: Banks in the city and across Maharashtra will be closed for three days starting on Tuesday even as the nation gets ready for a shutdown on February 20 and 21.

With Tuesday being a holiday due to Shivaji Jayanti and a call for Bharat Bandh (countrywide shutdown) by trade unions on Wednesday and Thursday, there would be a disruption in banking service, inconveniencing customers and resulting in a huge loss to the economy.

The All India Bank Employees Association, representing one million employees in the country, has made an appeal to make the two-day strike a “total success.” Though foreign banks remained shut for the holiday on Tuesday, most of them are expected to remain open the next two days.

Apart from bank employees, most unions in Mumbai plan to support the shutdown, but they have decided not to stay away from work. “Over 12,000 employees belonging to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in Mumbai will be wearing black bands to demonstrate against the government’s policies, but will attend work,” said an AAI employee.

The strike led by central trade unions representing banking, insurance, public sector undertakings, transporters and the unorganised sector are protesting against privatization, price rise, violation of labour laws, putting an end to Special Economic Zones, withdrawal of foreign direct Investment and several issues affecting the working class.

On the transport front, bus services of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) could be affected since the union controlled by Sharad Rao’s trade union supports the bandh. But the state administration is taking all precautions and buses that ply will have a police constable in every bus to provide security. While suburban train services are not likely to be affected, autorickshaw under Rao’s union will not ply on February 20 for 24 hours. Autos will ply on February 21 so that students appearing for the Class 12 board exams will not suffer.

Taxis have decided not to join the strike and therefore travellers arriving or departing from the city will not be affected. “We are not supporting the bandh” said Anthony Quadros, General Secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Union, “and taxis will work as usual.”

City schools plan to function normally but parents fearing sudden outbreak of violent incidents are unlikely to send their children to school.

However, hospital staff, excluding doctors, in government-run hospitals are expected to observe the strike on both days.


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