Strike total in Ker,business as usual in other southern states

Chennai/Thiruvananthapuram/Bengaluru, Jan 8 (PTI) The nationwide strike called by trade unions pressing for a charter of demands, besides protesting Centre's 'anti-people' policies, remained total in Kerala while it was largely business as usual in other southern states.

The central trade unions organised the protest against labour reforms, FDI, disinvestment, corporatisation and privatisation policies of the government.

The demands included minimum wage and social security for the working class.

In left-ruled Kerala, the strike was total and normal life affected, with public transport services keeping off the roads and banking services hit.

A houseboat carrying Nobel laureate Michael Levitt and his wife in the backwaters of Alappuzha was blocked for sometime by trade union activists.

Reacting to the incident, State Tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said: 'We will take strong action against those anti-social elements who blocked the boat.

Levitt was here as a state government guest. We will also look into whether there were any lapses in providing security to him.' Trade union leaders had earlier clarified that the strike will not affect the tourism industry.

Roads across the state wore a deserted look as Kerala State Transport Corporation (KSRTC), private buses, autorickshaws and taxis stayed away but a few private vehicles were seen plying.

Schools and colleges had declared a holiday and three major universities had postponed all the examinations.

Shops, hotels and other business establishments were also shut across but medical shops were seen open at major towns.

Most government staff did not report for work at the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his colleagues also did not attend office with the weekly state cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday being held on Tuesday.

Banking operations also took a hit as most PSU bank branches remained shut.

According to a Kochi report, functioning of the public sector Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd refinery has not been affected although non-management staff are on strike.

'Plant is running normal using available staff,' a BPCL spokesperson said.

In Tamil Nadu, the strike made little impact as bus and railway services were not affected. While shops and commercial establishments remained open, banking services were partially affected.

Cheque clearing and ATM services bore the brunt.

Traffic came to a halt at the arterial Anna Salai where demonstrations were held.

In Karnataka too, the strike did not affect normal life. While government buses including the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) were plying as usual, train services remained unaffected.

Schools, colleges and business establishments also functioned.

Barring banking services being hit, it was business as usual in Telangana.

In Andhra Pradesh, leaders of the Congress, CPI and CPI (M) were taken into custody as they staged a sit-in outside the RTC bus station in Vijayawada.

Reports said employees stayed off duties in various public sector undertakings, mostly in Visakhapatnam.

Most banks remained shut.

Normal life was affected in the Congress-ruled Puducherry as fleet operators kept buses off the roads responding to the strike call.

All shops and establishments except medical shops remained closed.

Attendance in government offices however was reported to be normal while industrial units suspended operations in various industrial estates.

Reports from Tirupati said police prevented youth organisations from carrying the effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a 'shava yatra' (funeral procession). PTI RRT TGB LGK UD GDK DBV COR VIJ VGN SA BN BN