Traffic comes to a halt, trade union strike to continue today

On a call given by 11 central trade unions and various independent federations and associations, its workers observed a strike on Wednesday in their respective industries.

Workers affiliated to AITUC, INTUC, BMS, CTU, TUCC and CITU organised a massive protest rally in support of their demands. Union workers of Punjab Roadways and PRTC were also a part of the protest, following which there was a chakka jam at the bus stand. The city woke up to see traffic jams, and the road outside the city bus station was blocked by factory workers, thus, reportedly harassing the commuters till 5 pm. The strike will continue on Thursday as well. Public sector bank employees, Income tax department and central excise employees were also on strike.

The protestors demanded minimum wages to be fixed by the Punjab government for unskilled workers at Rs 10,000, semi skilled at Rs 15,000, skilled workers at 20,000 per month, and fill all government and semi government posts on regular basis, to disband the new pension policy effective from January 1, 2004 and implement the old pension scheme for all employees.

Protestors cited low wages in the state as a major reason for shortage of labour in the state. They demanded all anti-workers' acts recently promulgated by the Punjab government to be withdrawn with immediate effect. "Labour laws in the state are being flouted by public and private sectors with impunity. The contractual workers in both the sectors must be regularised, and these must be implemented in letter and spirit," the protestors stated.

They also opposed FDI in banks, LIC and retail, as according to them it would hit production in the small-scale sector and job opportunities. They also demanded regular jobs and equal wages for Aanganwadi and mid-day meal workers. They warned that if the government did not change its economic policies, then more militant agitations were on the anvil.

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