Mixed response in north-east to nationwide trade union strike

GUWAHATI/AGARTALA: The 24-hour nationwide trade union strike called on Thursday by ten central trade unions evoked a mixed response in the northeastern states. Banking operations across the northeastern region were hit as a majority of the bank employees joined the countrywide shutdown.

According to officials, train and flight services in most northeastern states remained unaffected by the shutdown.

In BJP ruled Assam, markets, shops and business establishments were open in many places and closed in some parts of the state specially in southern Assam. There were few vehicles on the roads. But many government offices functioned almost normally and schools and other educational institutions also remained open, though with less attendance.

Trade union leader Biswajit Ghatak told the media in Guwahati that the shutdown is total and spontaneous in most parts of Assam except in Guwahati, where the strike was relaxed because of the funeral of former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

In another BJP ruled state Tripura, shops and markets were closed in some places but were open in some sub-divisions with very few shoppers. Most private and passenger vehicles remained off the roads.

Some hooligans attacked the headquarters of the Communist Party of India, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Socialist Unity Centre of India in Agartala, and several offices of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and damaged the properties in different places of Tripura.

“Ruling BJP supporters attacked the CITU office in Agartala and damaged the assets in the presence of the police,” CITU Tripura unit President and Former Minister Manik Dey told the media.

After visiting the party offices, CPI-M politburo member and former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar told the media that the Bharatiya Janata Party led government at the centre was destroying the country and their workers were attacking the democratic movements and national party offices in Tripura. However, BJP leaders denied the accusations of the Left party.

The 24-hour nationwide shutdown evoked very little response in other northeastern states including Meghalaya and BJP ruled Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

The strike was called by ten central trade unions including Congress backed Indian National Trade Union Congress and Left supported Centre of Indian Trade Unions to protest against various policies of the Central government.

The pro-Bharatiya Janata Party trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) however is opposing the shutdown.

The trade unions have asked the Centre to provide 200 days’ work in a year at enhanced wages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). The unions have also demanded withdrawal of anti-farmer and anti-worker labour codes, scrapping of the National Pension System (NPS), restoration of the earlier pension scheme with improvement in EPS-95.

They are also standing in solidarity with the farmers whose protest has been garnering attention over the past few months.

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