New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) The day-long nation-wide strike by trade unions Tuesday has been severely criticised by India Inc, as it has caused losses worth several thousand crores of rupees, and came at a time when industry was on the road to recovery after two trying years.
“Today’s strike by major trade unions is totally unjustified. Such strikes do not serve any purpose, only affect productivity and adversely hit social and economic development, apart from the interests of average people,” said Assocham president Swati Piramal.
The chamber also reacted to the opposition of trade unions to foreign investment into the country and their stand on divestment of shares in state-run enterprises.
“Foreign capital is required in India for economic activities such as manufacturing, which will create jobs and ensure social and economic uplift of India and opposing it will only push India’s growing economy into isolation,” Piramal said.
“Foreign investment and disinvestment are realities of the day to survive in a competitive economy and opposing them through nationwide bandh hardly makes a sense.”
The unions claimed that around 100 million workers and employees from sectors including banks, insurance, coal, power, telecom, defence, port and dock, road transport and petroleum and unorganised sectors such as construction had joined the strike.
Though rail services were largely normal, air and local transport services were badly hit, especially in in Left-ruled West Bengal and Kerala, with 129 flight cancellations and postponements.
The country’s largest private airline Jet Airways cancelled around 70 flights, including one international service to Bangkok, while the second largest carrier Kingfisher also cancelled 29 flights, including one international service to Dhaka.
The strike was called by eight major unions, including those affiliated to the Left parties and the Congress party, to protest high prices, divestment of stake in state-run banks and foreign equity, apart from demanding better labour laws and social security.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) reacted in a similar vein.
“Bandhs mean loss of business, loss of face, lots of inconvenience,” said Sanjay Budhia, chairman of the chamber’s national committee on exports. “With due respect to political parties, ultimately in democracy discussion and debate should decide the destiny.”
PHD Chamber said the strike was ill-times and came at a time when India Inc was on the recovery path and affected a cross section of industries including coal, power, telecom, banks, insurance, defence, port, road transport, petroleum and construction.
According to Vishwas Utagi, secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association, around one million bank employees protested against a host of issues including foreign direct investments in public sector banks and entry of foreign banks.
The bank employees are opposing foreign investment in private lending institutions and want the government to expand the network of public sector banks from the present 40,000 branches to 100,000 across the country.
Their strike affected normal banking operations in several states, though people were able to withdraw money from automated teller machines.