The nation-wide strike called by various trade unions on Thursday, in protest against the union government's economic policies, was near total in Kerala. Normal life in the state was affected, with shops and businesses being shut and Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) buses keeping off the roads. The functioning of government offices, banks and insurance offices, as well as private businesses, was affected. Taxis and rickshaws kept off the roads, but private vehicles were plying.
The 24-hour strike was called by a central committee of joint trade unions. All government offices and major business establishments remained closed across the state. Sabarimala pilgrims were exempted from the strike, and Kerala SRTC ferried devotees across the hill temple route as per usual.
The strike has been called to protest the union governmentâ€™s new farm and labour laws, and also to raise various demands, which include the scrapping of these laws. In Thiruvananthapuram, various organisations held a protest march along the cityâ€™s East Fort and PMG Junction stretch. However, major trade unions did not organise mass rallies due to the COVID-19 situation.
The protesters, both the pro-Congress and pro-CPI(M) held a sit-in at the Secratariat in Thiruvanthapuram, following COVID-19 guidelines. CPI(M) leader and national Vice President of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Anathalavattom Anandan, inaugurated the state-level protest in the city. CPI(M) District Secretary Anavoor Nagappan, CPI leaders KP Rajendran and Binoy Viswam MP, and Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) leader R Chandrasekharan spoke at the gathering.
In some districts in Kerala, small shop-owners reportedly complained that this halt in business would make their situation worse, as they are struggling to cope in the wake of the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Trade unions like INTUC, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), CITU, All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC) and Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) supported the strike. However, the BJP-aligned Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is not in support of the strike.
With PTI inputs