There was a poor response on the first day of the strike call given by the Goa Convention of Workers in the state on Wednesday as part of the two-day nationwide protest.
A massive rally, taken out to protest against the economic policies of the central government, wended its way through the main streets of the city shouting slogans of immediate rollback on subsidised LPG cap, rollback in petrol and diesel hike, abolition of contract system etc.
The rally culminated at Azad Maidan where speakers lashed out at the central government for its anti-labour policies, corruption, price rise etc.
AITUC leader, Mr Christopher Fonseca demanded abolition of contract system in permanent posts; amendment of the Minimum Wages Act to ensure universal coverage irrespective of schedules of employment; removing all ceilings on payment of bonus, provident fund and increase in the quantum of gratuity, assured pension for all, compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days etc. He also demanded alternate sources of livelihood for mining-affected people in the state.
The strike call is given to protest against corruption, unchecked price hike in all food items of mass consumption, hike in prices of petrol and diesel, cap on subsidised LPG cylinders besides rising unemployment and rampant violation of labour laws.
The speakers stated that the Indian political system has become one of the most corrupt systems in the world where tax evasion, accumulation of black money is rampant.
In the state, they said the BJP government was brought to power with a hope that things would turn over a new leaf but nothing has changed instead the situation has only become worse.
Mr Ajit Singh Rane of INTUC said, “We brought BJP back to power thinking the party would protect the interest of the labour class in the state.” However, the government is trying to gag the voice of the labour class with actions and policies that are detrimental to the working class, he added.
Mr Thalmann Pereira, Mr Subhash, Mr Suhaas Naik, Mr Raju Mangueshkar, Mr Shripad Madkaikar, Mr Naresh Shirgaonkar, Mr Hrudainath Shirodkar were amongst others who expressed their anguish.
In Vasco also, the strike call received a lukewarm response. According to available information, all commercial establishments remained open and transport services – be it road, rail or air – operated without any disruption.
Local banks in Vasco including cooperative societies remained open throughout the day. The bandh also did not affect schools and colleges.
Several decisions of the central government pertaining to diesel and petrol price hike, allowing FDI in multi-brand retail saw central trade unions giving a two-day nationwide strike call. The bandh will continue on February 21.
In Margao, a large number of police personnel were deployed in all major areas of the town to prevent any untoward incident on Wednesday. The bandh passed off peacefully and no untoward incident was reported from any corner of South Goa. Most of the schools, including private, functioned as usual while bus services and commercial establishments also remained unaffected. Banks and government offices also saw staff in full strength. [NT]