New Delhi, Feb 20: The country prepared to face a two-day agony starting Wednesday after trade union leaders failed to reach a consensus in talks with the government.
The strike, called by 11 registered trade unions across the political spectrum, started from Tuesday midnight to protest against policies of the UPA government that include price rise, poor implementation of labour laws and disinvestment in PSUs and increased foreign direct investment in many sectors. Over 2,000 independent unions have also supported the protest.
The striking unions have demanded removal of ceiling on bonus and provident fund.
The Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh, All India Trade union Congress, All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre and other organisations have jointly called the strike which is set to affect sectors like banking, transport, power, telecom and ports. Railways and airways services are likely to function normally for they are not part of the strike.
Various state governments like West Bengal, Karnataka, Odisha, Bihar and Kerala have declined to support the strike. While in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress government warned its employees against taking a leave or else, they would be served showcause notices, in Kerala, the Congress-led government took a 'no work, no pay' stand as pro-Left unions joined the strike.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier made an appeal to the trade unions to withdraw their strike for it would cause hurt the economy and also put the people in great trouble. Business body Assocham had also expressed concern over the bandh, saying it would hit the economy that was already witnessing a slowdown. The central government also a its asked its employees not to support the bandh or they would face the consequences.
On Monday, the trade union leaders met a government panel comprising AK Antony, Sharad Pawar and Mallikarjun Kharge but after the meeting concluded, CITU president AK Padmanabhan said the government had nothing to offer and they were preparing to go ahead with the strike.
The major trade unions met on Tuesday tas a stock taking execrise ahead of the two-day strike., CITU sources said.