New Delhi, Jan 8 : Banking services such as cash withdrawal were impacted in some public sector lenders while rail and road traffic was hit in Assam, West Bengal and Left-ruled Kerala as 10 major trade unions went on a day-long strike on Wednesday against the Centre's "anti-people" policies.
While banks were open, some services such as cash withdrawal were impacted in many places in the country as bank employees extended their support to the nationwide strike.
However, work at government departments remained unaffected barring sporadic demonstrations by trade unions.
Trade unions have claimed around 25 crore people will participate in the stir.
There were no reports of any impact on essential services from anywhere in the country. Train services were unaffected while electricity generation as well as oil refineries and fuel pumps operated normally.
The strike was near total in Kerala with vehicles, including state-owned KSRTC and private buses, keeping off the roads.
In the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) did not operate city and long-distance services. Very few private vehicles and auto-rickshaws were seen plying on roads.
Road and rail blockades were reported from several parts of West Bengal. The strikers also took out rallies in parts of the state and blocked roads and railway tracks in the North 24 Parganas district. However, police removed them to ensure the movement of vehicles without hitch.
In Kolkata, government buses were plying normally but the number of private buses was lower than usual in the early hours. Metro services were normal in the city and auto-rickshaws and taxis were also seen on the roads.
Heavy police deployment was seen in several areas of the city, including Tollygunge, Behala, Esplanade and Jadavpur.
In some areas of north Bengal, the Trinamool Congress took out rallies opposing the strike and urged people to maintain normalcy.
Normal life was hit in Assam as vehicles remained off the roads and markets were shut. Though pharmacies were open, educational institutions especially schools remained closed.
The government had on Tuesday asked public sector undertakings to dissuade their employees from participating in the strike and had advised them to prepare a contingency plan to ensure smooth functioning of the enterprises.
Ten central trade unions have claimed around 25 crore people will participate in the nationwide strike called to protest against the union government's labour reforms, FDI, disinvestment, corporatisation and privatisation policies. They are pressing for a 12-point charter of demands of the working class relating to minimum wage and social security, among others.
"We have been opposing government policies on bank merger, privatisation, fee hike and other wage-related issues," All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C H Venkatachalam told.
Members of 10 central trade unions, which include AITUC, INTUC, CITU, AICCTU, CUCC, SEWA, LPF, along with various sectoral independent federations, are participating in the nationwide strike, AITUC General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur said.
"We are protesting against rising prices, sale of the public sector (firms), 100 percent FDI in railways, defence, coal, pharma, animal husbandry, security services, and codification of 44 (central labour) laws," she told.
The demands also include a minimum pension of Rs 6,000 for everyone, minimum support price (MSP) for farmers, adequate supply of ration to people, she said, adding that the demands concern common man's issues besides worker-centric areas.
In Delhi, she said, rains will not impact the stir as demonstrations will be taken out in industrial areas and workers will assemble at ITO as planned and take out a procession.
"We are getting reports from all over India.? BHEL workers have gone on strike, ?oil unions are on strike. There is a situation of bandh in states of north-east, Odisha, Pondicherry, Kerala and Maharashtra. Roadways depots are closed in Haryana," she said.