Mumbai

Mumbai braces for massive workers' procession


Mumbai, Feb 18 (IANS): Over two lakh workers from all over Maharashtra are expected to join a protest march led by the Shiv Sena Monday ahead of the proposed two-day all India strike called by various trade unions later this week.

With workers arriving in Mumbai from across the state, traffic jams began from early in the morning. The workers will assembly at Byculla, and march to Azad Maidan about five kilometres away.

The march is to protest rising inflation, increased privatisation, erosion of job security, the government's anti-labour policies and the rise of contractual arrangements among other things.

Monday's protest march draws support from almost three dozen top labour organisations, cutting across party affiliation. Banking, insurance and financial sector unions are set to participate.

Some banks, including the State Bank of India, have announced two hours of extra work Monday in view of the holiday that will be observed Tuesday in Maharashtra for Chhatrapati Shivaji Jayanti, which will be followed by the two-day nationwide strike Wednesday and Thursday.

Strike organisers have said that ongoing examinations in various schools, colleges and universities will not be affected.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told parents and students that the strike was anti-government, and would not inconvenience students.

The crucial Higher Secondary School Certificate Examinations began Thursday across the state.

Mumbai Police have geared up to ensure that the strike passes peacefully.

Over 2,000 police personnel have been deployed around Azad Maidan in south Mumbai, opposite Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. At least 200 volunteers of the labour unions have been roped in to maintain law and order.

Traffic on certain routes in south Mumbai will be regulated, diverted or made off-bounds. Police have directed the processionists not to carry bags for security reasons.

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