Nation-wide strike evokes mixed response

The 24-hour country-wide strike called by major trade unions today to protest the government’s “anti-labour” policies of the government and rising prices evoked a mixed response with the banking and transport sector hit in some parts

New Delhi: The 24-hour country-wide strike called by major trade unions today to protest the government’s “anti-labour” policies of the government and rising prices evoked a mixed response with the banking and transport sector hit in some parts.

In West Bengal, there were fewer vehicles on the road but several schools and government offices remained open following the warning given by chief minister Mamata Banerjee that absence from duty will be treated as a break in service.

Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee said in Kolkata that the situation was normal in the districts. Some arrests have been made in certain places including Hasnabad and Madhyamgram for obstructing traffic, he said.

In the country’s commercial capital, Mumbai, the strike had a partial impact with financial institutions getting affected.

Barring banking and insurance sector, which have a large presence of trade unions, normal life was largely unaffected in the metropolis with all essential services especially public transport functioning as usual.

“The shutdown in the banking and financial sector has been complete. The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) clearing houses are shut. So the private and foreign banks where we do not a have a presence also get affected,” general secretary of All India Bank Employees Association, Vishwas Utagi claimed.

Services at Delhi and Mumbai airports were smooth in spite of the strike call by 11 trade unions.

In Delhi, the strike had little impact though normal functioning of PSU banks were affected and a number of autos and taxi drivers kept their vehicles off the roads to take part in the protest.

Commuters complained that the frequency of the state-run buses were low. Several passengers were stranded in the morning at railway stations and bus terminals.

Normal life was hit in Kerala due to the strike with buses keeping off the roads and shops remaining shut. The strike also affected functioning of banks and offices as pro-Left unions in the state sector also joined the protest against the “neo-liberal economic and labour policies” pursued by the UPA government at the Centre.

The Congress-led UDF government in Kerala has enforced ‘dies non’ (no work-no pay) order against the strike in government offices.

Reports from across the state said in most places, the mobility of people was hit as the impact of the strike was near total in the transport sector with buses, taxis and auto rickshaws keeping off the road.

Transport and banking services were hit in Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana in the wake of the strike.

Reports pouring from various places in the region said buses on several routes remained off the road in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh even as officials were persuading employees not to join the strike.

With major bank unions observing the strike, financial transactions came to a halt in all branches of public sector banks in the two states. However, banking services in private sector banks were not affected.

Labour leaders have claimed that the strike is going to be a historic event and a stern warning against “anti-labour policies” of the UPA government.

The key demands of the unions include guarantee of labour rights, end to the contract labour system, bringing workers in the unorganised sector under the social security net and pension benefit for all workers.

Besides the Left unions like CITU and AITUC and HMS, the pro-Congress INTUC and pro-BJP BMS are also supporting the strike.

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Telenor, Unitech move to restrain each other’s reps in Uninor

Telenor has requested for the ‘exclusion’ and ‘removal’ of Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra and his two other nominees from the “management and administrative affairs of Uninor”. Meanwhile, Unitech had requested CLB to maintain the status quo of Uninor, and not allow the transfer its assets to any other company without its consent

New Delhi: Norwegian firm Telenor and its Indian partner Unitech have moved fresh petitions before the Company Law Board (CLB) to remove or restrain each other’s representatives from their joint venture (JV), Uninor, reports PTI.

Telenor has requested for the ‘exclusion’ and ‘removal’ of Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra and his two other nominees from the “management and administrative affairs of Uninor”.

It has also requested CLB to divest four group firms of real estate player Unitech from their share holding of Uninor.

Meanwhile, Unitech had requested CLB to maintain the status quo of Uninor, and not allow the transfer its assets to any other company without its consent.

Besides, it has requested CLB to injunct Telenor’s “officers, servants and/or employees in any way interfering with the management” of Uninor.

The real estate firm has asked the board not to allow Telenor the “derogation of the articles of association of the company” and to conduct a special audit of the book of account of the JV firm by appointing a special auditor.

The cross petitions are scheduled to be heard by CLB on Thursday.

Telenor has requested CLB “to pass an order to remove all rights enjoyed by Unitech on account of the amendment of articles through a resolution of 20 March 2009.

Unitech, meanwhile, has also requested CLB to declare letter written by the Norwegian firm on 21st February informing plans to form a new entity in India and to migrate its existing business, including customers and employees, into the new company.

“Pass an ad interim order maintaining the status quo as on 21 February 2012 relating to the management of the affairs” of Telenor, Unitech has said.

Last week, Telenor had announced plans to dump Unitech and set up a new company for its Indian operations after the Supreme Court cancelled 122 telecom licences, including the JV’s 22 permits, in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation case.

Telenor had also sought damages from Unitech accusing it of “fraud and misrepresentation” of facts based on which it had invested over Rs6,000 crore in Uninor.

The Norwegian firm said it will hold 74% stake in the new company and may rope in a minority Indian partner.

Unitech, on the other hand, had said it “cannot be held responsible” for cancellation of licences and shareholders agreement “cannot be terminated by any party unilaterally”.

Issuing a statement, Telenor said it wants to prevent any “wrongful obstruction” of its effort to secure its investments in the country.

Unitech said its petition was to prevent the Norwegian firm from “assuming full control over the business including assets of (their mobile brand) Uninor”.

“On Friday, 24th February, we have moved the Company Law Board to prevent any wrongful obstruction of our effort to secure our investments and the welfare of Uninor’s four crore customers, employees and partners. We are not able to comment any further since this matter is now sub-judice,” Telenor Group said in a statement.

While Unitech in its statement said it “will continue to resist any mala-fide and/or unilateral action by Telenor”.

“Consequently, Unitech has filed a fresh petition in CLB today to enforce its rights under the Articles of Uninor and to prevent Telenor from assuming full control over the business including assets of Uninor,” the company said.

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