Kerala stocks up for nationwide strike

People in Kerala, used to frequent shutdowns, were Tuesday seen queuing up outside state-owned retail liquor vends or rushing to buy vegetables, meat and fish ahead of a two-day nationwide strike call from Wednesday.

Central trade unions and federations of workers have called for the strike against price-rise and "violation" of labour laws.

"From what we hear and see, the strike will be total and not a single shop will open. Hence we decided to stock up all essential items that we normally do ahead of any shutdown," said a man outside a liquor shop.

The Kerala government has made elaborate arrangements and directed police to ensure that there is no law and order violation.

But roads would be deserted as the state-owned Road Transport Corporation is not likely to ply its buses. Around 40,000 private buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws may also stay go off the roads.

Due to the strike call, the state assembly session, which was to continue till Thursday, was cut short to Tuesday.

Speaker G. Karthikeyan quipped that members of opposition Left were in a hurry to reach their hometowns to take part in the strike.

CPI-M member A.K. Balan asked the treasury benches to take part in the strike and make it a success.

A top official of Technopark, the premier IT campus here, told IANS that they would treat Thursday and Friday as working days.

"Police will provide security to our buses that bring IT professionals to the campus," the official said, declining to be named.

Opposition Left Democratic Front that met here decided to make best use of the strike by ensuring maximum participation.

All educational institutions will have an unofficial holiday while Public Service Commission and some universities have postponed interviews and examinations scheduled during the two days.

However, the state government has announced that there would be no pay if its employees do not turn up for work during the strike and has asked office heads to submit attendance statement by 10.30 a.m. on both days.

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