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Banking, transport sector hit on day two of nationwide strike
New Delhi: Banking services were on Thursday paralysed with ATMs running out of cash in metro cities and public transport disrupted on second day of the two-day Central unions sponsored strike which evoked a mixed response in most states barring Kerala where normal life was hit. Life remained normal in West Bengal though banking services were crippled with nationalised and private banks closed and ATMs remaining non-functional. Transport services were normal and shops, markets and business establishments opened in the state. In the Delhi, commuters faced hardships for the second consecutive day as majority of auto-rickshaws and taxis stayed off the road in support of the strike. Various industrial units and banks either remained closed or witnessed thin attendance while markets and commercial areas were open. In Maharashtra, majority of ATMs dried up in the financial capital Mumbai. “A majority of ATMs have dried up while (bank) branches are shut. Additionally, there has not been any cheque clearing as personnel from RBI too joined the strike. It will take at least 2-3 working days to clear the backlog for banks”, said All India Bank Employees Association Vice President Vishwas Utagi. Suburban railway, the city’s life line, functioned normally and road traffic remained unaffected. In Kerala, normal life was paralysed due to the strike with workers from most sectors ranging from transport to banking keeping away from work. Reports from across the state said buses and taxis were off the roads and markets remained shut. Train and air services were not affected. Attendance in government offices was thin and educational institutions remained closed as pro-Left service and teachers unions joined the strike. Universities have cancelled examinations scheduled for the last two days. The unions have put forward a charter of 10 demands such as urgent steps to control price rise, strict enforcement of labour laws in all places of work, social security net for workers in the unorganised sector, end to disinvestment in PSUs and raising minimum wage to Rs 10,000 a month. However, the strike had no major impact in most parts of Karnataka. Though banking services were hit, many buses, taxis and autos plied and shops remained opened. However, schools and colleges were closed. Employees of banks and public sector organisations in Andhra Pradesh continued their protests on the second day of the strike. In Tamil Nadu, banking and postal services remained affected while shops remained open and transport services plied normally. Members of the protesting trade unions staged demonstrations in various parts of Chennai. Though there were reports that some labour unions representing employees of Maruti Udyog at its plants in Manesar and Gurgaon had joined the strike along with Unions of HeroMotoCorp, workers of the company attended duty in the state. According to Union representatives of Hyundai Motor India Employees and Ford Motor India, which has manufacturing facilities at Sriperumbudur and Maraimalai Nagar, they have decided to conduct a mass rally today in view of the strike. Transactions of cheques worth of Rs 3000 crore in Chennai were affected while most of the ATMs of several banks have dried out due to lack of cash. In the north, public transport and banking services continued to be affected in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh due to the strike. Reports pouring in from various places suggest that majority of state owned buses plying on inter-state routes and inter-city routes in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh did not ply. With bank employees observing strike, banking transactions were hit, causing inconvenience to customers. Industrial production in Punjab and Haryana was unaffected. A report from Hisar has said activists of different trade unions staged dharnas in front of their respective offices. Normal life was partially affected in several parts of Odisha due to the strike. People faced difficulties in commuting as buses, taxis auto-rickshaws remained off the roads, leaving a large number of passengers stranded at different places. Shops, markets, business establishments and petrol pumps remained closed in Odisha, while eating joints and kiosks were found open. Banks remained closed with employees picketing and demonstrating at different places. Train services were disrupted by protesters blocking tracks at many places including Bhubaneswar, besides at Cuttack, Balasore, Khurda Road, Berhampur and Sambalpur, railway sources said. In Assam, the strike evoked lukewarm response. Public transport operated normally and markets and shops were open but public sector banks and insurance companies remained closed.
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