Millennium Post

Bandh paralyses banks, offices on Day 2

Public-sector banks and many government offices were shut on Thursday on the second day of a general strike called to protest against the government’s planned pro-market reforms.

Eleven unions called the strike in protest at the measures which they condemn as ‘anti-poor’ and likely to cost jobs and raise prices.

While the impact of the stoppage was patchy and felt mainly in heavily unionised state institutions, analysts said it underscored discontent among workers.

‘The government must sit down with the workers and hear them out because it cannot afford to ignore this class any more with general elections due in 2014,’ Shubha Singh, a New Delhi-based political analyst and writer, said.

The reforms include opening the retail, insurance and aviation sectors wider to foreign investment in a bid to spur a sharply slowing economy.

They also involve raising prices of subsidised diesel and reducing the number of discounted cooking gas cylinders to reduce a ballooning fiscal deficit.

Leaders of two Left parties said they were boycotting the opening session of Parliament on Thursday in solidarity with the strikers.
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