LBT: Traders call off strike, finally

With the state government accepting "most of the demands" of protesting traders, the Federation of Trade Unions of Pune (FTUP) called off the indefinite strike on Monday on the 13th day of the strike. Federation leaders said they held long discussions with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Chief Secretary Jayant Banthia in Mumbai and were satisfied with the promises made by the government.

Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Babar, a member of the traders' delegation that met the CM on Monday, said: "Almost 70 to 80 per cent of our demands have been met. Hence, we are calling off the strike."

Babar, who headed the agitation in Pimpri-Chinchwad area, said a general body meeting of the federation had been called on Tuesday where the members would be apprised of the discussion held with the government and a formal announcement about calling off the strike would be made.

Among others who met Chavan and Banthia were federation president Popatlal Ostwal and treasurer Fatehchand Ranka.

To protest the state government's decision to implement the local body tax (LBT) from April 1 — replacing octroi — in PMC and PCMC areas, the traders went on an indefinite strike from April 1. This strike was, however, called off on April 6 after the CM promised to look into their demands. On May 10, the traders launched the strike again, alleging that the government had gone back on its promise by not bringing out any amendment in the LBT. The strike was largely successful with all major markets in the city remaining shut.

On Saturday, however, Poona Merchants' Chamber, one of the trade unions participating in the strike, declared to pull out. It was estimated that the strike had caused losses of business to the tune of over Rs 5,000 to traders in PMC and PCMC areas till Saturday.

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