Millions of workers and government employees went on a day-long strike across India on Friday, protesting against the government's reform policies and demanding better pay.
Thousands of banks, government offices and factories were closed in the strike called by 10 trade unions, but essential services like public transport, power and water supply were not affected in major cities and towns.
One of the main trade unions, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, claimed that between 150mn to 180mn workers, particularly in the banking, telecom and mining sectors, joined the strike.
CITU's general secretary Tapan Sen said the unions were protesting against the government's labour and investment policies and demanding an increase in minimum wages.
"We oppose the pro-corporate changes in labour laws and recent decisions to ease norms for foreign investment in areas like insurance and defence."
"The response (to the strike) is massive. At several places, the police tried to break demonstrations, but workers are coming out to join the protests," he said.
The unions also oppose the government's plans to close state-run loss-making firms that employ large number of workers.
On Tuesday, the trade unions rejected an appeal by the government to call off the strike. Only one big union, the Bharat Mazdoor Sangh, affiliated to the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party, did not join the industrial action.
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