Normal life in Kerala was paralysed as the two-day nationwide strike called by Central trade unions entered the second day today with workers from most sectors ranging from transport to banking keeping away from work.
Reports from across the state said buses and taxis were off the roads and markets remained shut. Train and air services were not affected.
Attendance in government offices was thin and educational institutions remained closed as pro-Left service and teachers unions joined the strike. Universities have cancelled examinations scheduled for the last two days.
Barring stray incidents of minor violence, the state had remained peaceful since yesterday.
Police in their vehicles facilitated the short-distance travels of train and air passengers, who arrived in the state unaware of the hartal atmosphere.
Emergency services like healthcare, milk supply and media have been exempted from the strike.
The unions have put forward a charter of 10 demands such as urgent steps to control price rise, strict enforcement of labour laws in all places of work, social security net for workers in the unorganised sector, end to disinvestment in PSUs and raising minimum wage to Rs 10,000 a month.
Apart from unions owing allegiance to the Left, the pro-Congress INTUC and pro-BJP BMS are also participating in the strike.