People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 31, 2006
Life Comes To Standstill
IT was a sharp reaction of the people that the entire Kerala witnessed on December 14, when life came to a standstill. The protest lodged by workers against the economic policies of the UPA government was total in the state. Central and state government employees, employees of the public and private sector units and the staff in banking and insurance sectors joined the strike, among others. Farmers, agricultural labourers and workers of the unorganised sector also took part in the protest in large numbers. In the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram, the state secretariat didnít function. The ministers who were to attend the cabinet meeting at the chief ministerís residence had had to walk down. The International Film Festival at Thiruvananthapuram and the pilgrimsí vehicles to Sabarimala temple were exempted from the strike.
The CITU and AITUC led Sponsoring Committee Of Trade Unions spearheaded the strike in the state. Trade unions and other mass organisations that backed the strike kept a strict all-round vigil to make the protest peaceful. No act of violence was reported from anywhere in the state. Roads remained almost deserted, except for a few private vehicles. Shops and commercial establishments kept closed for the entire duration of the protest day.
In post and telecom sectors, employees kept away from work en bloc. Employees of the Kerala Water Authority, an essential service sector, went to do their job without marking their attendance. As many as 51 head post offices, 1800 sub post offices and 3000 odd branch post offices remained closed on the day. Employees of the central government offices such as income tax offices, accountant generalís office and ISRO rallied behind the cause of the workersí united movement.
Cochin, the main industrial city in the state, witnessed near total impasse in all sectors of work. The Cochin port, where around 4000 men are employed, was at a standstill for the whole day. Container ships from abroad didnít enter the port. The strike was near total in the central public sector enterprises such as the FACT, HMT, HIL and IRE. The TCC at Kalamassery, TELK at Angamali, Kerala Books and Publishing Co at Kakkanad, the prominent public sector enterprises under the state government, went without functioning. The strike was successful in almost all major private enterprises including the Apollo Tyres and MRF. In the MRF, only 12 were present for work out of the total workforce of 3000 labourers.
Prior to the actual occurrence of the strike, the Trade Unions Sponsoring Committee had conducted an intense campaign to take the demands of the strike down to the workers in all walks of life. In their turn, the workers as well as the general public also responded to the call enthusiastically.