Members of various trade unions in Tamil Nadu on Thursday took part in the nationwide strike to protest against the Union government's new farm and labour laws, among other workers-related issues and policies. The trade union members staged demonstrations, holding rallies in all districts barring 13, including Chennai, which faced the wrath of Cyclone Nivar.
The state government had also declared a holiday for the 13 districts in view of Nivar, which crossed the eastern coast in the early hours of Thursday. According to trade union leaders, they decided to go ahead with the strike in places which were not affected by the cyclone. Those employees engaged in relief and rehabilitation work were exempted from the stir, they said.
"Our strike is against the anti-labour government policies and not against the people," trade union sources said. The activists held placards and raised slogans and termed the Union governmentâ€™s policies as "anti-people, anti-worker, anti-farmer."
The unions claimed that as many as 50,000 workers took part in the strike from Tamil Nadu. Employees of Salem Steel Plant, BHEL Tiruchirappalli and 20 percent of employees of Navratna company NLC India extended support to the stir by abstaining from work, union leaders claimed.
Factories of major companies including MRF and Ashok Leyland, located on the outskirts of the city, remained closed as employees resorted to strike, CITU State secretary Soundararajan said.
He said employees of various textile firms in Tirupur and those engaged in the firecracker industry in Sivakasi, considered the country's cracker hub, also took part.
The Forum for IT Employeesâ€™ (FITE) Tamil Nadu unit, representing the employees of the information technology (IT) sector, also extended their support to the strike call by the various trade unions. Employees, who were working from home, took pictures of themselves holding the poster of FITE as part of expressing solidarity to the agitating workers.
All India Bank Employees' Association general secretary CH Venkatachalam said bank employees also took part in the strike and termed it a 'good success'.
"In the banking sector, we find the government's policies in privatisation and unwarranted merger of banks despite our vehement protests. The main issue of recovery of corporate bad loans is being ignored and concessions are being given to the corporates while service charges are increased for common people," he said in a statement to PTI.
The bank unions demand, he said, was to stop measures on privatisation, strengthen public sector banks, take 'tough' action against loan defaulters, among others.
"In Tamil Nadu, the government has declared a holiday in 13 districts due to the cyclone. In other districts, the strike was a total success," he claimed.