By A Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Sep 7: The workers in the state joined the nationwide strike against price rise called jointly by a number of trade unions in the country today. Those who called the strike included AITUC, CITU, HMS, INTUC, TUCC, UTUC, AICCTU, AIUTUC, LPF and other federations of trade unions and employees organizations. In Manipur the strike was supported by the Coordination Committee of Trade Unions (CCTU).
During the strike today police apprehended two members of the CCTU in Imphal while five more women supporters were held from Lilong. Further, two women were also held in Singjamei for causing a road block in the area as a part of the strike, and in Bishnupur two supporters were held for causing disturbance during the strike.
Normal life was severely affected in the state due to the strike and the airport, banks, telecom services, educational institutions, postal service and insurance companies came to a grinding halt. The secretariat remained functioning but with only around half the normal strength. Public transport including the inter-state buses did not ply throughout the day. The marketplaces in the city like the Khwairamband, Paona Bazar and Thangal Bazar also remained closed.
The CCTU called a press meet in connection with the strike at the Irawat Bhawan in Imphal today where the general secretary of the AITUC, Sotin Kumar informed that today was also the International Working Class Solidarity Day. He further observed that the other states in the country had joined the strike because of an increase in the price of commodities like petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas by a few rupees only, while in Manipur people were facing a situation in which the commodities were not available at all or were available for almost double the normal price. The economic blockade in the state which has been continuing non-stop for over five months now was due to the carelessness and apathy of the chief minister and the state government, he averred.
The trade unions would be intensifying their movement against price rise and improper sale of goods in the black market from the month of September, he said adding that those selling petrol in front of the petrol stations would be hauled up by the members of the trade unions.
He also questioned why the government was not taking any action or making any moves to stop the extortion racket run by the underground organizations like the NSCN(IM) even though the outfits were in peace talks with the Centre. He asked for the four-laning of the national highways 39, 53 and 150, deployment of highway protection force on these lifelines of the state, and fixing of the prices by the state government so that prices could not be manipulated by the traders.
He also announced that the trade unions would demonstrate during the winter session of the Parliament on the issue of price rise, non-availability of commodities, unemployment etc. He blamed the privatization policy of the government for the various problems like unemployment and price rise.
The CCTU also thanked all the traders and businessmen in the Imphal markets, employees of the state government, students and others for cooperating with the strikers by remaining away from their occupations for the day. It also appealed for full cooperation to the trade unions in its upcoming agitations.