Banks shut, Noida burns as two-day strike begins

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SummaryA union leader was killed in Haryana and factory units damaged in Noida in sporadic violence on Tuesday at the start of a two-day nationwide strike against inflation and the government's move to allow more foreign investment in sectors such as retail, banking and civil aviation.

A union leader was killed in Haryana and factory units damaged in Noida in sporadic violence on Tuesday at the start of a two-day nationwide strike against inflation and the government's move to allow more foreign investment in sectors such as retail, banking and civil aviation.

Kerala, Tripura and Bihar were among the worst hit states where normal life was thrown out of gear while stray incidents of violence were reported in Orissa and Karnataka. Transactions worth around R20,000-25,000 crore were affected due to the strike by bank unions as cheques were not processed. Flight and rail operations remained unaffected.

Reports from state capitals said financial services were crippled and bus commuters faced difficulties.

In Haryana, bus driver Narender Singh, who was also the treasurer of AITUC, was killed when he tried to stop a bus which was being taken out from the Ambala depot despite the strike, district president, Haryana Roadways Workers Union's, Inder Singh Bhadana said.

In Noida's phase 2 , workers clashed with factory owners in a hosiery complex and set ablaze vehicles prompting authorities to deploy PAC in the area. Workers went on a rampage and damaged industrial properties, police said. From Sector 82 till Greater Noida entry point, which is the industrial belt, workers set ablaze a car, bus and a fire engine, police said.

"People just barged in, looted everything in sight and even tore our registers," an industrialist said while another said every single building in the hosiery complex had their windows broken and many vehicles were set on fire.

Banking sector unions, under the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), wanted more recruitment (citing over 2 lakh vacancies) and stoppage of the proposed banking 'reforms'.

CH Venkatachalam, general secretary, All India Bank Employees Association, told FE that UFBU has decided to press ahead with the strike as the government has not so far given any concrete assurances.

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