As 10 trade unions in India have begun the 48-hour-long nationwide strike on Tuesday, normal life was severely hit in Kerala as some trade union members blocked trains and vehicles plying on the road. While KSRTC operated minimum services, trains were stopped at several stations by the strike supporters.
Trains: The police had to arrest and remove those protesting in front of several trains starting services from Thiruvananthapuram. This delayed other trains by hours. Trains have been blocked at Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha and Thripunithura. Railways sources told TNM that while five trains have been partially cancelled, one train has been fully cancelled.
Thiruvananthapuram-Nizamuddin Express could not depart due to the protest. Ernakulam- Shornur Venad Express stopped service at Ernakulam and was delayed by 1.5 hours. Jan Shatabdi Express and Raptisagar Express were also yet to depart as trains are being blocked from Thiruvananthapuram. Chennai-Trivandrum Mail was stopped at Thripunithura Railway Station.
Buses: Kerala Road Transport Corporation is operating services from Thiruvananthapuram to Pamba, the base camp of Sabarimala. Private bus services have also been halted.
Taxis: Taxi-hailing services, Ola and Uber are not running service across the state, Sajith Kumar, an office-bearer of Online Taxi Union told TNM.
Autorickshaws: Thampanoor in Thiruvananthapuram saw some tension as some protesters stopped autorickshaws plying on roads. However, the police intervened and removed the protesting group.
Speaking to TNM, Superintendent of Inspector at Thampanoor Police Station said, “Some of the people protesting were from Auto Union. They did not want other autorickshaws to ply when they were on strike. Some tried to forcefully make the passengers get down from the vehicle. We removed the protesters from the spot and let the passengers continue their travel. We are also taking stern action against those autorickshaw drivers who are not running the meter and are charging an exorbitant amount from the passengers,” he said.
Hotels: Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association (KHRA) State General Secretary G Jayapal told TNM that more than 50% of the shops are open. "As there are no buses services, some hotels and restaurants associated with tourism have voluntarily closed their shops due to lack of business," he said.
Government Employees: Only a few government employees have reported for work on Tuesday. An official at Cochin Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) told TNM that protesting trade union members blocked several of their employees at the gate. “The police cordoned off the area soon to allow the employees to enter. However, sensing an escalating tension, many employees returned home,” he said.
Dr Sugathan of Indian Medical Association (IMA) told TNM that doctors will be working and will reach hospitals during the strike.
Shops: In Malapurram's Manjeri, shops are being made to forcefully shut. “But we have informed the police,” says Nazrudeen, President of Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi (VVES), a trade union of shopkeepers and store-owners all over Kerala. A scuffle broke out in Kayamkulam in Alappuzha as shopkeepers were being forced to put up the shutters. The police arrested and removed the protesters.
Nazrudeen also said that 90% of the shops across the state have been opened but no major business has been happening. Major markets such as SM Street or Mittai Theruvu in Kozhikode and Broadway in Cochin are functioning.
The Central Trade Union are protesting against the policies of the Narendra Modi-led Union government for not fulfilling its promise of creating over 1 crore jobs a year. In addition to railways, banks and electricity departments, workers of the unorganised sector, including autorickshaw, taxi drivers and street vendors are participating in the strike.