Normal life in Kerala has been paralysed yet again with another general strike, this time invoked by a collective of trade unions protesting against a central government order allowing fixed-term employment across sectors.
The trade unions allege that amendment of the Industrial Employment (Standing Order) Central Rules 1946 by the Centre would make it easier for employers to fire workers on fixed term employment without even serving them a termination notice. All major trade unions, except the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), have supported the 24-hour bandh that began at midnight on Monday.
People depending on public transport have been hit by the bandh. Private buses, state transport buses (KSRTC) and autorickshaws have not been operating services, although private vehicles are not being stopped. Major establishments, restaurants, government offices, educational institutions and factories are closed. Small retail stores, however, are functioning. University exams have been postponed though PSC exams will be conducted as per schedule. Essential services like milk, newspapers and hospitals have been kept out of the strike. The police are helping commuters stranded at bus stands and railway stations.
In financial capital Kochi, the operation of Kochi Metro services from early morning has helped commuters. Major roads in the city are not as empty as expected since a large number of people are using their private vehicles to commute. Online cab services like Uber are operating though the number of vehicles on the road is less. Due to high demand, surge pricing is being implemented. Movie theatres in the city have also downed shutters and cancelled all shows.
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